Crystal Palace Ladies FC have applied to the FA to become a semi-professional club in the new Women’s Championship from the 2018/19 season, the second highest tier in the sport.
Roy Hodgson and several of the men's first team have thrown their support behind the Ladies bid to the FA, who are due to decide upon applications in the coming weeks.
The club is currently third in the southern division of the FA Women’s Premier League, but the FA Women’s Super League is being restructured from the 2018-19 season and new members are being invited to join. The top division will be for professional clubs, retaining the WSL name, and the second division will be semi-professional and renamed as the FA Women’s Championship.
Should the bid be successful, Crystal Palace Football Club will significantly increase it's financial contribution to - and marketing of - the Ladies, who will have a squad of at least 20 players, six of whom will be contracted.
Pam McRoberts of the current Ladies squad said, "I think it just shows just how far we've come - coming from a lower league to now getting the support of the men's players and the manager. Now we've all come together - we've got the men's, the Ladies, and the Palace for Life Foundation - it's good!"
Richard Spokes, chairman of Crystal Palace Ladies, said: “This has been eight years in the making and we have built the club from the ground upwards, putting in place a structure that can support an elite team and make Crystal Palace Ladies a sustainable club that can compete at the highest level.
“Being part of the FA Women’s Championship would help attract more players. It would be an endorsement of what we have tried to do here – to make Crystal Palace Ladies an elite football team on a par with what the club has achieved in the men’s game. We are grateful to the Crystal Palace Football Club board for supporting our ambitions.
“More than 1,000 girls and women have passed through the club in the last eight years so we have already made a considerable social impact and our ambition is to make Crystal Palace Ladies a club for life. We want girls to come through the Academy, play in our teams and then get involved in coaching, creating a virtuous circle which spans the generations”.