OOH Lincoln Ladies to play in FA Super League

OOH Lincoln City Ladies are to compete against some of the biggest teams in the country in the elite FA Women’s Super League that kicks off in March 2011.

OOH Lincoln City Ladies manager Rod Wilson (pictured left) and sponsor Ray Trew. Photo: Melissa Rudd

The Lady Imps’ place in the summer elite league was confirmed today as they were one of eight clubs to have had their bid accepted by the FA, along with Premier League champions Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

City submitted a substantial bid in December, with the backing of sponsor and Notts County owner Ray Trew and sports marketing consultant  Fiona Green, who has previosuly worked for Manchester United, Real Madrid and AC Milan.

The other founder members of the league will be Everton, Bristol Rovers, and Doncaster Belles. In total 16 clubs submitted bids and Nottingham Forest Ladies and Leicester City Ladies were among the unsuccessful teams.

Lincoln have been granted a two-year license to play in the Super League and will have to meet criteria to keep their place following this period. The season will run from March to October and live matches along with highlights packages will be televised on ESPN, although venues for home matches have not yet been confirmed.

“It is absoloutely fantastic for the city and for the region,” said OOH Lincoln manager Rod Wilson.

“In the bid we named Ashby Avenue and Sincil Bank but that’s not set in stone. We have to think of a strategy and build support. Some people have said it’s best to have one home ground where as others have said to play games at different venues around the region.”

Wilson added that although the squad needs to be improved, the current crop of players will have the opportunity to prove their worth ahead of the selection process.

“There is a limit of 20 players to the squad and we can pay four players over £20k a year. We need a stronger squad but the girls who have done us proud here at Lincoln over the last few years have got a chance now to play at this level.

“We have said to the players that between now and the end of the season it is virtually a trial. After that, we will be approaching other players including full internationals, not only to play for us but to come and work for us and deliver the business plan to help to increase female participation in sport in the the county.

“We have had discussions with several top class players already and maybe overstepped the mark a little bit in terms of our enthusiasm — the FA have set guidelines on this now.

“We have had a lot of interest and believe we will be able to attract a lot of top class players. This is the first time women in this country could make a living out of playing a team sport which is fantastic.

“It is going to be difficult but we aren’t going to just make up the numbers. Ourselves, Doncaster and Bristol will probably be viewed as the smaller teams but we believe with our business plan that we will be able to attract players and compete.

“We aim to employ five or six players on a professional basis and hopefully with the help of the university offer scholarships when girls could do courses there as well as play for us,” he said.

“I’m extremely elated that the club will be in the Super League and can only see them going from strength to strength. I can see commercial benefits for both parties and potential joint-sponsorship,”  commented Trew, who is a long-term financial backer of the club and gained ownership of Notts County in February.

Club captain Megan Harris, who has been with Lincoln City Ladies for over a decade, told The Linc that competing at the top level will be a dream come true.

“Obviously it’s been on our minds for the last few months and it’s been great to have this positive news this morning.

“We’re probably going in as the underdogs but we have some really good things in place. We aren’t just going to be happy with being one of the eight teams, we want to compete with winning the league and be successful,” she said.

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