Cam­bridge show another United the way for­ward

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Joshua Richards

AF­TER months of try­ing, Cam­bridge United fi­nally got their girls this sum­mer and now the club is aim­ing high.

Cam­bridge Women, who play in the fourth tier of the English game, have merged with Cam­bridge United in a move that’s hoped will boost the club’s pulling power as they look to reach the Women’s Su­per League.

Manch­ester United have come un­der fire this week from sports min­is­ter Tracey Crouch for not hav­ing a se­nior women’s team, hav­ing cho­sen to scrap their side a decade ago.

In­evitable

But Cam­bridge Women man­ager Steve Ed­wards be­lieves it is in­evitable that the north-west club will fol­low their lead.

“It is now harder to find a pro­fes­sional club that doesn’t have a women’s team, to one that does,” he said.

“We had been in dis­cus­sions for quite a while. Cam­bridge United ex­pressed an in­ter­est to us and it made sense, we were keen to push on.

“We can take on the brand and kit of a recog­nis­able club, which will help to at­tract play­ers and po­ten­tially the sup­port­ers of the men’s team. It will give us a greater media pres­ence and spon­sor­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Our long term am­bi­tion is to reach the WSL. We would love to have done that in our own right, but re­al­is­ti­cally that would have been very dif­fi­cult to do in­de­pen­dently. Now we have a far greater chance.”

Cam­bridge, in their pre­vi­ous guise, played their Premier League South East Di­vi­sion One home matches at Ely City’s Down­ham Road ground, based some 17 miles out­side Cam­bridge city cen­tre.

Land­mark

To her­ald their land­mark deal, the club staged a friendly with Queens Park Rangers at the Abbey Sta­dium last month, a match at­tended by a crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 300 sup­port­ers – far ex­ceed­ing their usual av­er­age gate.

And though Cam­bridge United will re­turn to Ely for the first home match of the new sea­son against MK Dons in Septem­ber, boss Ed­wards hopes their re­cent out­ing at the Abbey Sta­dium will not be their last.

“Ideally, we want to be based in Cam­bridge not 20 miles out­side,” he added.

“Ely are good enough to pro­vide us with a fan­tas­tic venue. They have a good play­ing sur­face, but we would love to move to the Abbey Sta­dium, though there are a num­ber of lo­gis­ti­cal is­sues if they are to stage matches.

“It won’t be the last time we play at the Abbey Sta­dium though, I’m sure of that. There is a pos­si­bil­ity we could play an FA Cup tie there.

“And if we reach the WSL then we would be in a bet­ter po­si­tion to make a case for play­ing at a venue like that.

“When we played QPR, it was ad­ver­tised by Cam­bridge and 20 min­utes be­fore kick-off we had over 250 fans in. That greater media pres­ence is the kind of thing that will re­ally go a long way to ben­e­fit this club.”

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