The FA announcement of the teams who will form the two top tiers of the newly structured Women’s Super league excludes Sunderland Ladies. When the football club firstly told the team they must go part time and then excluded them from training facilities at the Academy of Light and from playing their home games at the Hetton Centre many felt the writing was already on the wall.
Despite this demotivation, the team retained a huge collective determination and recently achieved 7th place in the top tier. The FA however required applicants for this top tier from 2018-19 onwards to display a sustainable budget plan for full-time playing and coaching staff and it is now apparent that Sunderland, despite a rumoured new link with Northumbria University, have failed to provide the necessary assurances, even for a part-time team in the second tier.
This is clearly a PR disaster for Sunderland Football Club to be upstaged by Yeovil in the top tier, and Lewes in the second tier. Whether those involved in the team will have the desire to continue in existence at the feeder third tier is at present unknown but our thoughts must go out to those who have not only progressed to the team from the club’s link with Gateshead Academy for Sport and the Sunderland Regional Talent Club but also players from other teams at home and abroad who have contributed so much to the team’s success over the last four years.