Aberdeen Football Club could be set to take over the running of Aberdeen Ladies’ relegated Premier team ahead of the new season.
Talks are ongoing, but it is understood the currently manager-less senior side would be incorporated into the Pittodrie club’s academy structure, with the Dons to advertise for and employ a new head coach.
Aberdeen Ladies dropped out of Scottish Women’s Premier League 2 at the end of last season. It was their second successive relegation and they are now facing a tough season playing against a number of fellow north-east sides like Cove in Division One North, with the new campaign to begin in the spring.
The team, initially promotion favourites as former SWPL1 high flyers, struggled last year.
They parted with head coach Stefan Laird but lack of sponsorship and the need for a volunteer boss meant they struggled to attract a replacement.
A points deduction for fielding an ineligible player compounded matters further and, despite a brilliant end to the campaign which saw them take 14 from the last 18 available points, the team couldn’t escape the drop.
Many of women’s football’s most successful teams, like Hibernian in Scotland, as well as Manchester City and Arsenal down south, work closely with their male counterparts.
The move is something that has often been mooted among those involved in the north-east women’s game, with the hope Aberdeen FC’s clout can stop the talent drain that takes the best players away from the region, where the game remains amateur and players still mostly pay to play, to wealthier clubs or national performance academies.
It is understood the rest of the Aberdeen Ladies club – formed in 2011 from a host of teams in the Granite City – would continue to remain a separate, though affiliated, entity from Aberdeen FC, with a focus on their existing age group teams.
A memorandum of agreement would be required and should let youngsters move up from youth sides to the senior side when necessary.
The men’s and women’s clubs had already announced an affiliation agreement in 2016. This resulted in the ladies side wearing kits which matched the Dons, as well as receiving access to meeting space at Pittodrie.
Aberdeen FC’s legal team also helped them reduce an initial larger points deduction last term, and Reds coaches and youth player Ryan Harrington volunteered to help run the team for some of the campaign.