Reading FC Women reverting to part-time status is a terrible decision for the club, the area and the women’s game

Emma Harries captained Reading FC Women for the first time against Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Neil Graham.
Emma Harries captained Reading FC Women for the first time against Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Picture the scene.

Emma Harries leading the FA Women’s Championship a merry-dance as Reading FC Women challenge for promotion back to the FA WSL at the first attempt – inspiring the Royals just like Fran Kirby did in 2015 before heading off to Chelsea and England glory.

But that’s not going to happen. On Tuesday morning Reading FC and its silent owner Mr Dai Yongge announced the Royals women’s team, relegated from the top tier of the game in England at the end of this season, were reverting to part-time status.

Both Harries and her recently departed team-mate Faye Bryson have highlighted the lack of support for the team from their club who have argued that a £6 million investment over five years and use of the club’s state-of-the-art training facility at Bearwood as proof in fact, that they have.

There be drummers at Reading FC Women. Photo: Neil Graham.
Reading have an opportunity in front of them. It looks like they aren’t going to take it. Photo: Neil Graham.

The Women’s game in this country is growing exponentially, with TV coverage, sponsorship, and winning international tournaments. It’s all going on, and there isn’t a women’s team within throwing distance that can match the status of Reading.

Right now is the perfect time to back the club’s women’s team. Dust themselves down, tie-down out-of-contract Harries to a new deal along with some of the club’s other star players and go all guns for promotion back. Build a winning mentality and give the youngsters of Berkshire and beyond opportunities in their own back garden, and something to be proud of and aspire to.

“Now we focus on establishing a more sustainable model for Reading FC Women”

The statement published by the club says: “Now we focus on establishing a more sustainable model for Reading FC Women which can ensure that pathway for young female footballers can extend into competitive women’s football played in the blue and white hoops of Reading Football Club.”

As one of my colleagues pointed out, Mr Yongge hasn’t exactly managed to fund the men’s team particularly cleverly in the last few years so under what faith are we accepting this?

The statement released by the club cites costs not matching income despite increased gates and sponsorship. That is understandable. But where was that thought process when they spent £7.5 million on George Puskas?

Reading FC Women was a top-tier club, and has some fantastic talent coming through. I sincerely hope they don’t waste it.

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