Stoke City: Ladies in bid to join big league
STOKE City Ladies have applied to be part of a new women's Super League.
The FA are planning to expand the current eight-strong league to a two-tier competition with 20 clubs in 2014.
Stoke are one of 33 teams who have applied for a place in the elite set-up.
They currently play regional football in the Midland Combination League, but are enjoying a superb season under joint managers Andrew Frost and Duncan Gilchrist.
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They are top of the table and also through to two cup finals. Stoke's first team will play their reserves in the Staffordshire County Cup final at Norton United on March 19.
The first team are also through to the final of the League Cup, a match which will be refereed by leading Premier League official Howard Webb.
The League Cup final, against Leafield Athletic, will be played at Stafford Rangers' Marston Road ground on April 28 (2pm).
An independent panel will decide in June which 20 clubs have won a place in the women's Super League's two divisions.
They will make their decision based on a number of issues including quality of club's coaching staff, plus their marketing and financial management.
Joint-manager Frost is hopeful Stoke can win a place in the new set-up.
He said: "It would promote women's football, and would be great for our club and this area. The changes could also be massive for women's football in this country.
"They will hopefully mean that players would stay and play in the English Super League rather than going to the USA and other countries to play instead."
Stoke Ladies players aren't paid, but the current eight-team Super League is semi-professional.
Stoke Ladies play their home games at Stone Dominoes' Yarnfield ground, but they train at Stoke City's Clayton Wood complex.
The football club also supplies Stoke Ladies with kit and transport. Frost added: "It is fantastic for us to be able to train at Clayton Wood.
"I don't know of any other ladies team who train at the first-team's ground apart from Arsenal Ladies."
The 33 teams who have applied to be part of the new two division Women's Super League include Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Manchester City and West Ham United.
Manchester United are not the candidates and haven't run a women's team since 2005.