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Reading Women downgraded to Tier 5 due to ‘complexities related to separate property’

Die Damenmannschaft bestreitet ihre Spiele im Select Car Leasing Stadium <i>(Image: PA)</i>” bad-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/”/><button class=

The women’s team plays its games at the Select Car Leasing Stadium (Image: PA)

Reading FC women’s team has been relegated to Tier 5 this football season.

The Berkshire-based team, which finished tenth in the Championship last season, has slipped to the lower ranks of the women’s football pyramid due to the disastrous ownership of Chinese billionaire Dai Yongge.

This happened after a possible takeover failed in the final stages.

In recent weeks, concerns about the future of this complex, which was once one of the most beautiful in the country, had grown and a petition had been started to convince potential buyers to save the building.

Yongge had no funds to keep the team in the second division, but a takeover offer for the women’s team only was accepted.

However, according to the Reading Chronicle, the deal fell through in the final part of the process and the 5pm deadline on Friday 28 June was missed.

In its official statement, released at 10am on Sunday 30 June, the club said: “Reading Football Club can today confirm that it is with a heavy heart that it has withdrawn from the Barclays Women’s Championship for the 2024/25 season. The women’s first team will now move to Level 5 of the women’s football pyramid.

“In order to continue to compete at Barclays Women’s Championship level, the Club requires a further capital injection from the owners to build a competitive squad and meet the revised mandatory criteria ahead of the 2024-25 season.

“This would have included a return to a full-time training model as well as further investment in premises and staff.

“While these requirements are in line with the exponential growth of women’s football, it is widely recognised that a direct financial return on annual investments can only be expected in five years at the earliest.

“Given the club’s current financial situation, the expenditure required to achieve these levels is unfortunately simply not possible without significant self-financing.

Club personnel, with the support of the FA, have thoroughly explored all options, including external funding and new investment opportunities for Reading FC Women that would enable the team to maintain its status in the Barclays Women’s Championship and discussions are currently taking place with various parties.

“Despite our best efforts, it has not been possible to operate Reading FC Women under a separate funding model due to the complexity of the separate ownership structures.

“The club recognises that being downgraded to Level 5 will be a huge disappointment to everyone associated with the club.

“However, this solution offers the club the opportunity to continue operating a women’s football department.

“Significant cost reductions have been made in all departments of the club in recent years.

“While the Club recognises and encourages the huge increase in the popularity and commercialisation of women’s football, unfortunately it does not have the financial resources required to increase investment in Reading FC Women.

“Reading have been among the elite of women’s football for many years.

“Despite being one of the few clubs outside the Premier League, they have performed admirably in recent seasons alongside the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United.

We are also proud of the role Reading FC Women have played in promoting and developing grassroots football, providing role models for young girls who aspire to become professional footballers and paving the way for future stars to pursue a professional career in football.

“Promotion to a lower division of the FA Women’s Pyramid will potentially enable Reading FC Women to progress into the top leagues in the future – whilst maintaining an important grassroots pathway and opportunity for young women to further pursue their football ambitions through Reading FC Women.

The club and the FA continue to liaise with all individuals affected and are committed to providing each individual with appropriate support.

“We would also like to thank all the players, staff and fans who have shown outstanding performances in the 2023/24 season – the first team avoided relegation despite a season full of challenges and our U21 team won the domestic league and cup double.

“The club will provide a further update in due course with further information on the upcoming 2024-25 season.”

Dawn Airey, Chair of the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship Board, said: “We are extremely disappointed that Reading FC Women have decided to withdraw from the Barclays Women’s Championship.

“We have worked closely with the club throughout the season and made every effort to find a solution and prevent this result.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact this will have on Reading FC Women’s players, staff and fans, as they have all played a key role in women’s football and their wider community.

“It was also very important to us to find a way to ensure that Reading FC Women can continue to participate in the women’s football pyramid next season.

“Our priority now is to support the club’s current players and staff, including the Professional Game Academy, to ensure they have every opportunity to continue to participate in women’s football.”

In the 2024/25 season, the Championship will feature eleven clubs and there will be only one relegation place.

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