Cambridge show another United the way forward
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.
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.
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.”