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Are Reading's Owners Reversing the Progress Made by the Women's Team?

Reading were demoted from the Women's Super League, the top-tier of Women's football in England, at the end of the 22/23 season. Following their demotion to the Championship, the club's owners announced that they would be operating on a part-time basis rather than the full-time basis they have been operating for years.



This decision from Reading's owners led to a large number of the Royals' players leaving the club, seeking teams that are more willing to put the money, time and effort into getting the best out of their players.


Emma Mukandi made 42 appearances for Reading in the WSL, and was their captain for the 22/23 season. However, following their relegation from the WSL, Mukandi chose to leave the club at the end of her contract, moving to London City.


Mukandi was one of many senior players who left the club following the expiration of their contracts, with others including long-term players Grace Moloney, Becky Jane and Amalie Eikeland.



Reading were the first club in England to host all Women's Super League games at the same ground as their men's first team.


However, following the men's first team's relegation to League One, the funding of the club dropped significantly. Reading's men's team was forced to cut their wage bill in half in order to stay operational. With Reading as a whole struggling to finance both their men's and women's teams, cuts have had to be made to both sides.


The funding required to compete in the top-flight of women's football has grown over recent years, meaning the men's sides have needed to financially back their women's teams.


Women's professional teams rely heavily on their male counterparts to fund their progress. The top four WSL clubs (Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City & Manchester United) are given more money due to the success of their club in the men's Premier League, but with Reading's men's first team competing in League One, they don't have the money to afford to give their women's team the same funding that Premier League clubs can.


Despite Reading increasing ticket sales, having more sponsorships and a higher broadcast revenue earned, the club still struggled to keep their women's team afloat. Reading's owner was forced to provide £1 million to finance the women's team for the 22/23 season to keep the club running.



With Reading now competing in the Championship for their 23/24 campaign, there will be a significant drop in broadcast fees and funding from the FA.


Thus, the club's owners made the tough decision to move to a part-time basis in order to establish a more sustainable model for Reading women to ensure the club can still compete in the top two tiers of women's English football.


They now face a difficult rebuild over the 23/24 season in order to compete for promotion back into the top-flight of women's football.





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