Leeds Ladies open to a return to Leeds United fold

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LEEDS Ladies would welcome a return to the Leeds United fold in the near future, according to their director of football.

New Leeds United co-owner Andrea Radrizzani hinted at the prospect of women’s football returning to the Elland Road club after replying to a fan on Twitter.

Andrea Radrizzani.

Andrea Radrizzani.

The Italian said women’s football was “on my agenda” in a list of priorities including buying back Elland Road.

Leeds United Ladies Football Club was originally disbanded in 2014 after owner Massimo Cellino controversially withdrew his support.

The women’s team was left without financial backing and rebranded as ‘Leeds Ladies’.

The club have since been without an affiliation to a male counterpart, but current first-team manager Lewis Atkinson believes re-merging would benefit the club.

“We’d be foolish to say we’re not interested,” Atkinson told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

“That association with the badge, the male counterparts, the sponsorships. It would help us drive the club forward.

“As a committee were very open to having a conversation with Leeds United and see if it would be mutually beneficial for both parties.”

Leeds Ladies – who play in the FA Women’s Premier League Northern First Division – recently announced a complete overhaul of their infrastructure to secure the club’s future.

In an official statement, the club announced Lee Townend would be their new chairman and that first-team boss Atkinson would take on the position of director of football whilst maintaining his coaching role.

Atkinson said the previous leadership had lacked direction and that he believes there are promising times ahead for the Yorkshire club.

“The main reason for the new structure is to give the fans and the club a bit more transparency, and a bit of focus in terms of achieving its goals,” said Atkinson.

“Were not attached to any male supporting club but other clubs in our division have attachments to universities or to their male counterparts, so they have some sort of support. I certainly think with the new structure and the new investment we will compete off the field but also attract the right kind of players on the field.”

The manager – whose side currently play in the FA Women’s North First Division One – admitted the focus for the club has always been on encouraging young girls to get involved in the sport.

“It’s about the club – the badge, the brand and Leeds Ladies having a presence in women’s football.

“It is vitally important that the city has that club there to encourage young girls to be involved in the game and have that ambition to want to play for a leading ladies football team.

“We still believe as a club we can really push forward and be the leading team, not just in Leeds but in the north of England as well, and really give girls that desire and ambition to want to play women’s football in the Leeds area.”

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