Southampton have announced they are looking to invest around £1m annually into developing their women's teams as the club set their sights towards reaching the FA Women's Super League.
The Saints currently ply their trade in the fifth tier South Region Women's Football League, but are confident the significant injection of money, and guidance of women's soccer head Marieanne Spacey-Cale, will steer them towards their ultimate goal.
Still top of the league despite not having a game. Work to do before the big game at home against Keynsham Town next Sunday. https://t.co/hLBm4Oz88Y— Southampton WFC (@SotonWomensFC) March 3, 2019
The news was announced by managing director Toby Steele in the Southern Daily Echo (via Sky Sports), who sees the project as both exciting and as an opportunity to garner a wider fanbase.
"This is our second season of running the women's first team in a regional league with hopes to climb up to the Women's Super League within a few years so we have made significant investment in that," Steele said.
"All told and taking our regional talent club, which is youth development and the first team, we're investing about £1m into that part of the club. We see it as a good development for us, good engagement for the fans and opening ourselves up to new fans and we're enjoying seeing the performance of those teams adding to the club."
The idea is to replicate the structure used for the men's team, with physiotherapists and coaches being brought in, while Spacey-Cale left her position with the Football Association as player and coach developer to join the club and provide her experience in building the project.
"It is a significant investment, but we don't want to do it half-hearted," added Steele. "We want to put the investment in now so we hopefully have a smoother ride into the Super League in time.
"It's absolutely embedded in the club so everybody involved in the women's team works within the offices at (the club's training ground at) Staplewood, has access to the same facilities, they're training there as well."