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Manchester United Women Football Club is a professional football club based in the Salford suburb of Broughton, Greater Manchester, England, around 1.5 miles from Manchester city centre, that competes in the Women's Super League (WSL), the top tier of English women's football, after gaining promotion from the Championship at the end of the 2018–19 season. They are based at The Cliff, formerly used as a training ground by the men's equivalent.[1]

1970s–2001: Unofficial team[edit]

A team called Manchester United Supporters Club Ladies began operations in the late 1970s and was unofficially recognised as the club's senior women's team. They became founding members of the North West Women's Regional Football League in 1989.[2] The team became increasingly competitive throughout the 90s at various levels of the FA Women's National League up until 2001.[3]

2001–2005: Partnership and disbandment[edit]

It's very disappointing. The progress of women's football can be really helped by professional clubs taking women's teams under their umbrella and it's a blow to the game that a great club like Manchester United will no longer be doing this.

—Ray Kiddell, FA vice-chairman, 2005[4]

In 2001, the team formed an official partnership with Manchester United. However, the club began to stagnate with a string of successive mid-table finishes in the third division.[2] The team were disbanded four years later, in 2005, shortly after Malcolm Glazer's completed takeover with the new regime deeming the women's team to not be part of the "core business" and unprofitable.[5] A media spokesman for Manchester United also claimed the club wanted to focus on its women's academy instead of its senior team.[4]

2018–present: Current team[edit]

In March 2018, Manchester United announced their intentions to reintroduce a women's football team.[6] Manchester United Women Football Club were founded on 28 May 2018, following the club's successful application to join the newly-formed 2018–19 FA Women's Championship.[7][1] It marked the club's return to women's football after a thirteen-year absence; though the club's academy continued via the Manchester United Foundation, with the likes of Izzy Christiansen and Katie Zelem being produced by United's Centre of Excellence academy.[8][9] Casey Stoney was appointed as the club's first head coach on 8 June,[10] with their inaugural 21-player squad announced just over a month later.

The team's first game back was on 19 August 2018, where they won 1–0 in an away game against Liverpool in the FA Women's League Cup, with Lizzie Arnot scoring their first competitive goal in thirteen years.[11] Three weeks later, their opening Championship encounter ended in a 12–0 victory away to Aston Villa.[12] On 17 April 2019, United secured promotion to the FA Women's Super League following a 5–0 win against the same opposition.[13] They clinched the FA Women's Championship title three days later following a 7–0 win at home to Crystal Palace.[14] In May 2019, Manchester United were named FA Women's Championship Club of the Year at the 2019 FA Women’s Football Awards.[15]

Ground[edit]

Following the club's acceptance into the 2018–19 FA Women's Championship, it was revealed that the women's team would be based in Broughton, Salford at The Cliff training ground; subject to completion of redevelopment work.[1] In the meantime United play their fixtures at Leigh Sports Village.[16] Moss Lane serves as a backup venue for when the Sports Village is unavailable.[17] Ewen Fields has also been used as a contingency plan, hosting United’s FA Cup fifth round match against London Bees in February 2019.[18]