I think it is shocking that in 2017 a club the size of Manchester United does not have a women’s team, and what is even worse is they will not properly explain their position.
Look around the world and every other major football club has a women’s team, or plans for one. Two of the biggest, men’s Champions League finalists Real Madrid and Juventus, are about to set up theirs.
Most of those teams are fully integrated with the rest of the club and being backed financially too – a few miles from Old Trafford, for example, Manchester City’s commitment to their women’s side is clear.
Southampton are the only other Premier League side not to have an affiliated women’s team, although they have just announced a new under-21 team for next season, giving a pathway for the young female players in their girls’ sides – something United’s girls do not have.
Locally, nationally or globally, whichever clubs United compare themselves to, they are allowing themselves to be left behind.
I don’t understand why.
When people have talked about this issue in the past, they have focused on how, with the club’s vast resources and worldwide profile, a United team would help develop the women’s game.
That is still true, but it now works the other way too – United are missing out on an easy way of engaging with their huge female fanbase, in Manchester and further afield, and promoting the importance of women in the make-up of their club.
A women’s team would do all of that. The game is growing fast and other clubs have demonstrated they believe it is a big commercial asset, at very little cost.