Leeds United Ladies forced to rebrand

Leeds United Ladies.

Leeds United Ladies.

Leeds United Ladies are set to be re launched tonight as Leeds Ladies after Leeds United club owner Massimo Cellino withdrew support.

It was feared the city’s leading female football team, set up in 1989, might fold after the Italian businessman took over in April and hinted he did not want the Ladies to use United branding.

Chairman of Leeds United Supporters’ Trust, Gary Cooper said: “We’ve been waiting for a decision for weeks. I spoke to Massimo back in May and he told me he wasn’t particularly interested in the women’s team.”

Leeds United Ladies have been funded by the Leeds United Foundation- the charitable arm of the club – who provided an annual £25,000 towards running costs.

Alan Scorfield, member of the Leeds United Foundation, said he didn’t want to comment on why the foundation has withdrawn support.

He said: “Leeds Ladies is a brand new club and it has nothing to do with us.”

Unable to use the branding and badges of Leeds United AFC, Leeds United Ladies will now continue as Leeds Ladies FC and have created their own branding but said they are keen to keep the traditions of the Yorkshire football club alive.

Mr Cooper said: “This meeting tonight ensures that the traditions and essence of Leeds United will live on through us and allow the City of Leeds to have a female team that are steeped in the traditions of the club.”

Leeds United Ladies were a former Women’s Premier League team but now find themselves starting life as a new brand in Division One.

Gary Cooper said he still thinks it is possible for them to go all the way to the Women’s Super League, the highest competitive level in the women’s game in England, if the right structure and support is put in place.

He added: “It won’t be easy, but it is certainly possible. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

Leeds United said they did not wish to comment.

For more on this story, tune in to the livestream from the Yorkshire Voice TV studio at 4.45pm.

1 Comment

  1. DelGarde says:

    So how hard would this have been? Cellino says to the Ladies that Leeds United don’t have the cash right now to fund them, but maybe in the future when the club is back in the Prem he will look at it again and if its possible, help the Ladies financially. In the meantime, the Ladies are FREE to use the Leeds United badge, play in the club’s colours and have a FREE page in the club’s matchday programme to promote themselves … and their own page on the club’s official web site. Also, when possible, the Ladies will be invited to join coaching sessions with the First Team to learn and progress. Cellino would be honoured to attend two Leeds United Ladies games a season as their “Special Guest” to help forge a bond. Added to this, Leeds United will speak to their sponsors to see if their would potentially be a willingness to sponsor the Ladies as well, even if it is for a small amount. So I ask again, how hard would it be to do something like this? Why not help build a Ladies team in a fast growing market segment that we can be proud of as a club?

    Once again Leeds United simply butcher another good opportunity to build its brand and goodwill out there. I think it may well be that the negotiations with Cellino were pretty pathetic, and as such he didn’t take to them. Leeds Ladies should rethink their strategy when it comes to dealing with the club, and take small steps at first. When you look at other clubs, they are starting to really buy into the Ladies brand, and the leading light over the years has been Arsenal by a long way, but others are now stepping up as well. Take a look:

    http://www.mcfc.co.uk/Teams/Women

    http://www.arsenal.com/ladies/players

    http://www.chelseafc.com/teams/chelsea-ladies.html

    All these are proudly represented as part of the main club site, complete transparency and there to promote their Ladies teams. In all honesty, I am totally flabbergasted that Leeds United are not making an effort. Is it because the talks with Cellino were approached the wrong way, or is Massimo simply an arrogant egotist who can’t see the wood for the trees? Right now Leeds United should be offering to help the Ladies team in other ways if they can’t financially, and I just don’t get this pathetic swipe-and-be-gone approach. My daughter, who used to come to many Leeds games with me (yes, she even sat through the Preston 4-6 debacle, and Shaks met her after a Tuesday night Leyton Orient game) decided to switch to Arsenal because she could identify with their Ladies team. Now, before you start off with “traitor” and “club for life”, just think it through. Here’s another example. I went to see the Rhinos get thumped at Wembley a couple of seasons or so ago with my son (he is still Leeds even though they play like girls) and on the train after the game we were sat with a family in Rhino shirts, all glum. Got talking about the football and the dad says, “Don’t ask her, she’s Chelsea”, pointing to his daughter all kitted out head to toe in Leeds Rhinos gear. “Why?”, I asked. Her response? You guessed it, they have a Ladies team and at least they don’t play in red. So there you go. How many more young female supporters will we lose in this manner? When these girls become mothers, who do you think they are going to encourage their kids to follow?

    So it just doesn’t make sense to me that Leeds United want NOTHING TO DO with the Ladies team. It’s a massive error regarding brand development and promotion, and therefore a plain stupid and senseless decision. Then again, it is Leeds United, home of doom and gloom, rubbish football, forever doomed to live in the past as our support base slowly shrinks to nothing.