Both the Premier League’s Coventry teams now have new identities after Coventry City severed their links with the men’s club in a move that they believe will safeguard their future.
City become Coventry United Ladies – the new female addition to the progressive men’s outfit – in a move that the club believe offers them the best opportunity to succeed in their quest for Super League football.
The move comes weeks after neighbours Copsewood left the city altogether to become Nuneaton Town Ladies.
After signing the agreement with Coventry United FC, the former Sky Blues issued a statement, saying they believed it was in the best interests of the club to end their 24-year affiliation with the League One club.
Chairman Tim Kalns said: “Discussions have been going on behind the scenes for a number of weeks about how we can get the right structures in place to progress this club toward semi-professional status.
“The board have been in negotiation with Coventry United for a while and believe we now have an agreement in place that will give us the best possible platform to enable the club to move forward.”
End of the blues
United will not only have a new name, but a different badge and different kit, ending a quarter of a century’s association with the sky-blue colours synonymous with the city. However, they will continue to play at Bedworth United’s Oval.
It is understood that as Coventry City Ladies, the team’s support from the cash-strapped men’s club was limited. They began last season playing their home games at the Ricoh Arena, but have since had to return to Bedworth after it became the new home of Wasps RUFC.
Ironically, Coventry City’s loss of a women’s team comes a day after Mark Sampson, manager of England’s Women’s World Cup semi-finalists, called on more professional men’s clubs to adopt women’s sides to help build on the momentum created during the tournament in Canada.
Kalns said: “This was not an easy decision to make. Coventry City Ladies are a long-established club that have been playing in the top level of the women’s game in recent years and can arguably lay claim to have been the most successful side in the FA Women’s Premier League over the last four seasons.
“We do, however, remain ambitious. The next step is Super League status.”
He told BBC Coventry & Warwickshire: “We’ve enjoyed a good, solid, working relationship with Coventry City men’s team.”
But he added: “The level of support we need to take us forward is a little bit more tangible… Coventry City need to concentrate on getting themselves back up where they belong, and we are going to leave them to do that.”
Kalns added in the club statement: “We will retain our own independent board of directors, our intellectual rights and history [as] Coventry City Ladies FC. All current partnerships, facilities, staff and league status are unaffected. What you will see is a different kit and a different badge.”
The club’s statement did contain a word of thanks from director of football Tom Stack to Coventry City FC.
But the emphasis was well and truly on the future, with reference to an “exciting” new era.
While there has been a Coventry City Ladies for more than a century, the current club were formed in 1991. But its ties with the Sky Blues are now permanently severed.
The future is now red and green.
Starting from a relatively high position compared with the men’s club that they now join, Coventry United Ladies will kick off in the FAW Premier League Southern division – the third tier of the women’s game – a league they won two years ago.
By contrast, Coventry United FC started life just two seasons ago, in the then-Midland Combination, finishing second in Division Two in their maiden campaign.
Last season, they won the newly created Midland League Division Two and will play in Division One in the coming season.
However, they still remain half a dozen steps away from the Football League.
The change of club marks the latest development in an eventful couple of months for the old Coventry City LFC.
- In May they were docked six points for fielding ineligible players, effectively putting them out of the Premier League Northern title race and ending their hopes of making next season’s Super League
- Last month they were rocked by the resignation of manager Craig Nicholls and assistant Joe Robinson after winning three trophies in two seasons with the pair in charge
- Then a fortnight ago they found themselves back in the southern division after once again becoming the most southerly Midlands side following Copsewood’s move to Nuneaton
Coventry appointed Paul Iannaccone, who has been coaching in North America, as Nicholls’ replacement earlier this week.