Burnley have announced plans to integrate their women’s team into the club as they set their sights on earning promotion to the FA Women’s Championship and turning professional.
The move is part of a long-term strategy from ALK Capital, who completed a takeover of the club last month, to capitalise on the growing women’s game.
Following back-to-back promotions to the National League Northern Premier Division, the third tier of the game, chairman Alan Pace has set a target of reaching the Championship by 2025, at which point moves would be made to turn the team professional.
Pace said: “The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was arguably a turning point for the women’s game, attracting new fans and inspiring men and women all over the world to see football in a new light.
“The global pandemic has since had a huge impact on women’s football, but I believe it has a major role to play in the sport’s future growth, bringing in new audiences and demographics.
“Burnley FC is an inclusive club for all and today’s announcement signals our intent to put women’s football at the very heart of it.
“Over the coming seasons we will fully support and invest in our new women’s football strategy, with the ambition to gain promotion to the FA Women’s Championship within four years and ultimately become a full-time professional outfit.”
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Burnley Women are currently operated as part of the Clarets’ community programme but a move will immediately be made for it to become its own entity within the club.
The process of setting up a women’s academy is also under way with the Football Association.
Burnley Women’s season is currently suspended due to the pandemic, with the game on hiatus below the top two divisions, but once play does resume the players will share the men’s facilities at the Barnfield Training Centre.
Burnley Women manager Matt Bee said: “Today’s announcement is exciting for all aspirational young footballers in Burnley, with the club demonstrating real ambition within the women’s game and a commitment to invest in infrastructure and development over the coming seasons.
“This is an exciting time for Burnley FC Women, and I can’t wait to work closely with Alan Pace, the ALK Capital team and (chief executive) Neil Hart to once again build on the fantastic success we’ve had in recent seasons when football can fully resume.”
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