Crystal Palace Ladies have applied to become a part of the new FA Women’s Championship, which will be the second highest tier in the sport.
The Palace Ladies, who currently sit third in the southern division of the FA Women’s Premier League, are also looking to become a semi-professional club.
This all comes following the Women FA’s announcement to restructure the league’s pyramid, with an invitation for new clubs to join next season. The top division will be for professional clubs, retaining the Women’s Super League name, while the second division will be for semi-professional teams and is to be renamed the FA Women’s Championship.
As Crystal Palace Ladies are currently an amateur set-up – they will, therefore, have to show they can generate enough income in order to become a long-term member of the newly expanded league.
Richard Spokes, chairman of Crystal Palace Ladies, said: “This has been eight years in the making and we have built the club from the ground upwards, putting in place a structure that can support an elite team and make Crystal Palace Ladies a sustainable club that can compete at the highest level.
“Being part of the FA Women’s Championship would help attract more players. It would be an endorsement of what we have tried to do here – to make Crystal Palace Ladies an elite football team on a par with what the club has achieved in the men’s game. We are grateful to the Crystal Palace Football Club board for supporting our ambitions.
“More than 1000 girls and women have passed through the club in the last eight years so we have already made a considerable social impact and our ambition is to make Crystal Palace Ladies a club for life. We want girls to come through the Academy, play in our teams and then get involved in coaching, creating a virtuous circle which spans the generations”.
The club is almost completely funded by Crystal Palace Football Club, who will continue to provide financial support as well other assistance. The Palace Ladies are hopeful of having a squad of at least 20 players, six of which will be contracted – and there will also be extra resources committed to marketing the team.
Steve Parish, chairman of Crystal Palace Football Club, said: “We are delighted to be helping Crystal Palace Ladies pursue their ambition of becoming a member of the new league. The club has made enormous progress in the last few years and we want to help give south London a women’s football club to make it proud”.
Jess Maidment, marketing and communications director of the club’s shirt sponsor Utilita, said: “It is fantastic to see CPFC Ladies making strides in the women’s game – we feel that the club has the capability to compete at the highest level and we are looking forward to continuing our partnership with the team.
“The involvement of the community is a huge reason we have supported CPFC Ladies – it’s a family-friendly club at its core and we wish them the best of luck in their application”.
There are up to 14 places that are likely to be made available in the FA Women’s Championship and the deadline for applications is March 9th, which will then be followed by a three-week assessment period.