Women’s football: Ladies are United in rising from the ashes

Leeds Ladies FC
Leeds Ladies FC
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HE might have failed to acquire the city’s famous football club but commercial director Mike Farnan says a strong ladies’ team is crucial to the “modern and youthful” city of Leeds.

Farnan had hoped to take control of Leeds United through his Together Leeds consortium which was unsuccessful with its endeavours to buy the Whites.

But former Manchester United International managing director Farnan has still ended up being heavily involved in the city’s sporting scene as commercial director to Leeds’ female football outfit.

Having been shunted by United and eventually reformed as Leeds Ladies, Farnan was brought on board by the club’s chairman, Gary Cooper, whose club pay their trade in the fourth tier of women’s football – the FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division One.

Farnan says it’s “scandalous” the club are not playing in Women’s Super League, but is moreover relieved the outfit are still going and urging maximum support to take Leeds Ladies from strength to strength.

Farnan told the YEP: “The city of Leeds is such a modern city, such a youthful city and not to have a Leeds Ladies team competing against the big ladies teams in the English Premier league is scandalous.

“Leeds should always be there – no different to what I have said in the past that Leeds United should be in the Premier League.

“I just got involved because during the build-up to trying to acquire Leeds United I got to know Gary Cooper very well.

“I found him very helpful to myself and Gary Verity in supporting our initiative.

“When Mr Cellino sacked off the Leeds Ladies, I thought it was an awful thing from a Leeds point of view in general.

“Gary said to me ‘we’ve no money, we need support and can you help us with connections and contacts?’

“I’m a Leeds United fan and the best thing for me to do was to try and help facilitate sponsorship and some funding.”

Farnan became involved with the club in January and five months later Leeds Ladies are preparing for another season battling it out with the likes of Mossley Hill, Chester Le Street and Chorley.

The division Leeds are in was won by Guiseley AFC Vixens, who will now compete with the likes of Nottingham Forest and Blackburn Rovers in the FA Women’s Premier – one tier below the second tier of Women’s Super League.

After some troubled times, Farnan hopes that for Leeds Ladies the only way is up.

Farnan explained: “The future of Leeds Ladies and female football in Leeds is key so we need to make sure this project works. We all know that this is a passionate sporting city and I cannot believe the dedication these girls put in.

“They work as hard as anybody, they are so passionate, and it’s amazing really and Gary himself has been inspirational.

“This man is spending his own personal time and money in making sure this works.

“I’m in the business of international marketing and the natural thing for me to do is to support what, in my way of thinking, is still part of Leeds United as a club.

“These girls go out and play in the colours of Leeds, they are passionate and they believe they are playing for Leeds United’s women’s team.

“That’s the way I see it and the way I’ll always see it, to be honest.

“The fact that the club had to reform, to me, is wrong.”

Farnan was speaking as he jetted out for business with his international management company, though the Irishman insists his work with Leeds Ladies has only just begun.

Farnan added: “I just want to stress how important it is that corporate Leeds gets behind Leeds Ladies.

“I’m happy to meet anybody to discuss as the more people that get behind Gary and the team the better.”

FACT FILE

Formed: 1989.

Division: FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division One (fourth tier of women’s football).

Manager: Gary Lee.

Assistant manager: Jak Oldroyd.

Chairman: Gary Cooper.

Captain: Emma Bentley.

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