When it was announced a few weeks ago that Sunderland Ladies have indeed applied for promotion to the FA Women’s Championship, the fans reacted to the news on social media with great positivity after what has been a frustrating couple of seasons for players and fans alike.
In a recent club podcast featuring Sunderland Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman, he spoke about the five year plan which has been drawn up for the Ladies team with the guidance of manager Mel Reay. That plan will hopefully start to be implemented from a position of a club that’s been promoted to the second tier of the women’s game.
When the FA announced there would be two promotion places available to the Championship, they stated that the criteria for their selection would be weighted at 75% results-based, taken from the last two seasons. On the first of the criteria Sunderland will most definitely score well. They have the highest PPG of all of the clubs in the FAWNL.
The remaining 25% taken by assessing the facilities and infrastructure of the club and in this regard, given the facilities at the disposal of the side, the application of the Lasses will again be strong. The Ladies train at the Academy of Light, as well as having played their matches there during the pandemic. It does however remain to be seen where the Ladies will call home next season. It must be assumed that the Hetton Centre and the Hebburn Sports and Social Ground will be their preferred choices.
Although the news of the application was met by supporters with great enthusiasm. There will also inevitably be some scepticism from a fan base who have been on the end of some unfair decisions from the FA in recent times. When assessing the strength of the Sunderland application, there must be cause for confidence on Wearside, of its success, and promotion to the second tier of the women’s game in England.
As far as the fans are concerned, promotion would be fully deserved and the ladies would go into the season with a good squad. Players with the quality of Neve Herron, Grace McCatty and Maria Farrugia to name just a few, would not struggle with the step up to the Championship. The team will most likely be strengthened by Reay with some summer signings. Former black cat and fans favourite Charlotte Potts recently left Scottish side Hibernian Women, and would be an astute addition to the squad.
After a successful season for Durham Wildcats, finishing runners up in the Championship, north-east derby then would be on the cards - home and away - if the Lasses were to be promoted. It would also mean a reunion with two former key players from the dominant Sunderland side of the 2019/20 season; goal machine Bridget Galloway, and midfield dynamo Mollie Lambert.
We keep our fingers crossed that the news from the FA is positive. The club is anticipating to receive a decision by the end of this month or, at the latest, in early June.