Reading withdraw from Women's Championship and move to fifth tier

Reading have confirmed their withdrawal from the Barclays Women’s Championship next season and they will play at Tier 5 of the women’s pyramid instead.

The club – who were part of the Women’s Super League in the 2022/23 season – said in a statement they would have needed a further ownership cash injection to compete at Championship level.

The statement read: “Club personnel, with support from The FA, have exhaustively explored every option, including external funding and new investment opportunities for Reading FC Women, which would allow the team to maintain their Barclays Women’s Championship status – with dialogue with various parties taking place.

“Despite best efforts, the complexities around separate ownership have meant operating Reading FC Women under a separate funding model has not been possible.

“The club understand the demotion to Tier 5 will come as a huge disappointment for all connected with the club. This solution, however, does provide the club with the opportunity to continue to operate a women’s football department.

“All departments within the club have seen costs cut considerably in recent years. Whilst the club recognises and encourages the huge rise in popularity and commercialisation of the women’s game, it unfortunately does not have guarantees of the required finances to increase investment into Reading FC Women.”

As a result of Reading’s demotion, the Championship will have just 11 teams in the league next season, with only one relegation place. The second tier intends to return to 12 clubs and two relegation places in the 2025/26 season.

The FA confirmed it had approved Reading’s application to re-apply to the women’s football pyramid in the fifth tier.

Reading were in the Women's Super League in the 2022/23 season
Reading were in the Women’s Super League in the 2022/23 season

Women’s Super League and Championship board chair Dawn Airey said: “We are very disappointed that Reading FC Women have decided to withdraw from the Barclays Women’s Championship. We have been working closely with the club throughout the season and have made every effort to find a solution and to prevent this outcome.

“We are deeply saddened by the impact this will have on the Reading FC Women players, staff and fans, as they have all played a key role in women’s football and within their wider community.

“t was also very important to us to find a way to ensure that Reading FC Women could continue to participate in the women’s football pyramid next season. Our priority now is to focus on supporting the current players and staff members at the club, including the professional game academy, to ensure that they have every opportunity to continue to participate in the women’s game.”

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