Southampton have announced that their women's team will adopt a full-time model ahead of the 2022/23 season.
The Saints earned promotion to the Championship for the first time in their history on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Wolves in the National League play-off final.
The Championship currently consists of a mixture of full-time and part-time teams, and Southampton have confirmed that they will move from the latter into the former ahead of their debut season in English football's second tier to ensure they are 'best placed for the challenge ahead'.
This will see the team have access to all facilities and support at Southampton's Staplewood Campus training ground.
“The change in status for Southampton FC Women from part-time to full-time is an exciting one,” said first-team manager Marieanne Spacey-Cale.
“We are aware of the challenge moving into the Championship will bring on the pitch, so having quality time with the squad based at Staplewood will support this transition and give us a good chance to settle into the league.
“The club are extremely supportive of this transition into full-time and have been all in getting the application process and the detail right to ensure this can happen for season 2022-23 in the Women’s Championship.”
Southampton currently boast one of the best setups outside of the top flight, attracting four-figure crowds during their various appearances at St Mary's last term. Seven of the team that started Sunday's play-off victory over Wolves had progressed through the club's academy.
"This is another exciting step for our Women’s programme in what has been a hugely successful campaign on and off the pitch," director of football operations Matt Crocker added.
“As a club we wanted to make sure our women’s team are in the best possible position for their first season in tier two and moving to a professional full time programme fully integrated at Staplewood supports our ambitious plans for continued success and development in the women’s game.
"We want to thank everyone at the Club who dedicated their time and effort into getting the application process over the line and ensuring the next step for our women’s team is given the best chance possible of being a success.”
Source : 90min