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Why don't Manchester United have a women's football team?

Why don't Manchester United have a women's football team?

It seems unbelievable that in 2017, a club the size of Manchester United don’t have a women’s senior team to represent them.

Sadly, that has been true for a while now – but why?

They used to have a team…

Manchester United fans protest the Glazers' ownership of the club - (Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport)
Manchester United fans protest the Glazers’ ownership of the club – (Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport)

Yes, it wasn't always this way. Back in 2000 it looked as though United were getting with the times, absorbing long-standing women's team Corinthians.

However, in 2005 the Glazer family took control of Manchester United and ended United's arrangement with Corinthians almost immediately - three months before the north west was due to hold the 2005 Women's Euros.

They described the team as “not being part of the core business”. Hmm.

What do they have?

United do have a focus on women's football at some level – anything less would seem negligent – with their girls’ football programme awarded Tier 1 status by the FA.

When United announced the decision to no longer support a senior female team, club director of communications Philip Townsend said: “Our aim is best served concentrating on youngsters.”

It's only right that United continue to support youth, but the fact is, when the girls reach adulthood, they have to find another club – and perhaps more damagingly, look to other countries for a career.

Should they have a team?

Steph Houghton at the Women's World Cup - (Vaughn Ridley/EMPICS Sport)
England performed brilliantly at the 2015 Women’s World Cup – (Vaughn Ridley/EMPICS Sport)

Women’s football in 2017 is thriving more than ever in the UK – the latest boost to ticket sales for the Women’s Super League came when England managed third place at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the country’s second best World Cup finish in history.

For Manchester United, arguably the biggest club in the world, to be absent from that growth is unacceptable – and it’s not like money is a problem, either.

United regained top spot in the Deloitte Football Money League recently, boasting turnover of £515.3 million across 2015/16. The top players in the WSL earn around £80,000 a year, which we don’t need to tell you is substantially less than some of United’s stars earn in a week.

It's not for lack of political pressure

Department for Culture, Media & Sport Tracey Crouch - (Nick Ansell/PA)
Department for Culture, Media & Sport, Tracey Crouch – (Nick Ansell/PA)

Several have tried, and failed, to apply pressure on the Old Trafford side to support a women’s team.

In 2015, sports minister Tracey Crouch suggested United should rectify that anomaly, while Labour MP Barbara Keeley told Sky Sports News: “The size of a Premier League club like Manchester United should think about having a women’s team because these girls in future need to have a club.”

Furthermore, FA head of women’s football, Sue Campbell, has perhaps unsurprisingly urged the club to re-evaluate their commitment to a women’s team as well.

The public want it

Old Trafford - (Richard Sellers/EMPICS Sport)
Old Trafford – (Richard Sellers/EMPICS Sport)

It’s not like the public aren’t asking for a women’s team either – it seems the fans would welcome one with open arms.

There was a petition calling for Manchester United to form a women’s football team recently too, which gained 4,596 supporters.

And more recently, there has emerged an obvious reason for the club to return to the women’s game.

Could a rivalry draw them out?

Manchester City celebrate winning the Women's Super League - (Barrington Coombs/PA)
Manchester City celebrate winning the Women’s Super League – (Barrington Coombs/PA)

There surely couldn’t be a better time to invest in a women’s senior team for United, given the emergence and dominance of their closest rivals, Manchester City.

City’s 2016 season could almost not have been better – the side won the WSL undefeated (13 wins and three draws) as well as claiming the WSL Cup against Arsenal.

That all means United are falling behind City every day they don’t invest in a women’s team – might that bring about a change of heart?

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