Sunderland Ladies excited by switch to South Shields

Sunderland Ladies at Mariners Park.
Sunderland Ladies at Mariners Park.

Head coach Melanie Reay says Sunderland Ladies are excited as they prepare to break new ground on Saturday.

The Lady Black Cats play their own home fixture of the Women’s Super League 1 programme when they host champions Chelsea.

Sunderland have left their Eppleton CW base, in Hetton, to move north to South Shields’ Mariners Park.

It’s a switch from the club’s Durham heartland to an area very much split down the between the different coloured stripes of North-East football, but Reay says the squad are “excited” about the start of a fresh era .

“We are all very much looking forward to our opening home game at our new ground at Mariners Park,” said Reay, whose team kicked off the season in style with a 1-0 win at Reading on Sunday.

“We have started the season in a positive way – it’s always good to get points on the board early on.

“We are under no illusion Saturday night is going to be tough but we are looking forward to the challenge.

“We have reviewed our performance against Reading and reflected and are always working hard to be a better team.”

Sunderland hope to have forward Keira Ramshaw available following injury.

Tickets are available online in advance at www.safcladies.com or a cash turnstile will be in operation.

Single ticket prices (on -line version first hen ground price: Adults £4/£5, Concessions £2.00/£2.50, Family one adult and one child £5.50/£6.50, two adults and two children £10.50/£12.00.

Meanwhile, the Ladies look set be relegated from the top flight this season – regardless of how they perform on the pitch.

Plans announced by the Football Association will condemn Sunderland to the drop. In a re-structure of the women’s game, the top tier will be only for full-time clubs.

Sunderland were building to a full-time structure, but then back-tracked to revert to their part-time model.

The FA has approved changes to Super League licences, and all clubs must re-apply for their places. Clubs have until November 10 to submit their applications.

The only way Sunderland could stay in the top flight would be to go full-time and meet the FA’s requirements – and that looks very unlikely given the club’s financial position and the fact the new changes would probably cost in excess of £1million a season.

A club spokesperson said: “We are aware of the announcement regarding the FA’s restructure of the league format and once further details are made available to us, we will consider how we move forward in light of the changes being proposed.”

Clubs already full-time include Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Doncaster Belles, Bristol City and Brighton.