Leicester City are set to become the latest Premier League club to inject further funds into their women’s team with the aim of promotion from the Championship, the second tier of women’s football.
Leicester finished in a respectable sixth place in the division during the 19-20 season, which was curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, but were 25 points behind league winners Aston Villa. Villa were promoted to the Women’s Super League after the final standings were decided on a points-per-game basis. Leicester had also reached the quarter-final stage of the FA Cup, which has been postponed indefinitely due to coronavirus.
The Times understands Leicester are interested in a number of established names from the WSL, including former England international Jo Potter, and Courtney Sweetman-Kirk, who left Liverpool last month.
Although the Championship is a predominantly part-time division, recent investment from the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham and Aston Villa, who have now all been promoted to the top tier, has encouraged others to increase their commitment to the women’s game.
The league will be increasingly competitive in the 2020-21 season, with the likes of Sheffield United, Durham, Liverpool (who were relegated from the WSL) and now Leicester attracting the investment and talent to be able to compete with those at the lower end of the fully professional WSL. Nine of the 12 WSL teams had parent Premier League teams last season.
Many players in women’s football are on short-term contracts, often lasting the length of a single season, leading to a high turnover of players expected this summer. Earlier this week, Reading announced that eight players would not be renewing deals upon the expiration of their contracts. They included midfielder Remi Allen and forward Millie Farrow, who have both been strongly linked to Leicester.
The majority of players who have been released by clubs have been unable to sign pre-contract agreements given the continued social distancing rules in place due to coronavirus. The women’s transfer window is expected to open on June 19 and run until September 10, with the new season due to start on the weekend of September 5.