FA looking to change the game
Leading figures from within women's football and the Football Association have called on England's top men's clubs to invest more money in their female teams as the game took another step towards a professional structure.
The FA announced a highly-ambitious five-year plan that it hopes will help women's football overtake men's cricket as England's second most played team sport.
Under the plan, called 'Game Changer', the FA will appoint a head of elite development, look for increased sponsorship and broadcasting of the women's game, and expand the eight-team Women's Super League (WSL) in to two divisions by the 2014 season.
The expansion of the WSL means either 10 or 12 clubs currently competing in the lower leagues will be able to apply to join the WSL, a semi-professional competition that runs through the summer and began last year.
Of the eight teams currently in the WSL, only four are affiliated with a Barclays Premier League men's side. The FA want to see more high-profile teams follow the lead of Arsenal, who have invested heavily in their women's side with impressive results both on and off the pitch.
"It would be great if big clubs were involved in (the expansion of he WSL)," FA general secretary Alex Horne said.
"Clubs need to be brave enough to invest in the model and look at their own corporate reasons for looking at investment in the women's game.
"Arsenal is a great model. They have been a big part of the women's pyramid for a long time and they are reaping the benefits, they are winning trophies regularly and the engagement that the men's club have with the women's club is powerful for them on a number of levels."
Arsenal Ladies defender Steph Houghton, who was the star of Britain's Olympic team this summer, hopes both Manchester clubs commit a women's team to the expanded WSL.
"To have clubs like Manchester United or Manchester City involved would be great for the women's game," she said. "All they need to do is look at Arsenal, at how successful we have been over the last few years."
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