Despite the best efforts of stand in managers Alan Parkes and Paul Fox, Leeds United Ladies’ season came to an end on Sunday as thoughts of relegation became a crushing reality. Having had the best of play in the first half, the team conceded three goals for Derby County from set pieces which, combined with an assist from a deflection off the referee for a fourth goal, all but sealed the result. A spirited effort in the second half saw Leeds United pull two goals back and again have the better possession, but the damage had been done and the end result of 5 -2 meant the final defeat of the season confirmed our worst fears.
In reality the damage had been done much earlier as a string of disappointing results left the Ladies team languishing at the foot of the table from the beginning of the year. This young side lacked experience at this level and struggled to reach the standards promised by manager Neil Ross, though the effort applied by the players following Ross’s departure with two games to go shows there is no lack of enthusiasm at the club.
Mick Ferguson, CEO of The Leeds United Foundation is philosophical about the position of the club, saying, “Obviously we are not where we wanted to be at the end of the season and relegation is a difficult pill to swallow, but we have to regroup and put plans in place to get us back up as quickly as possible. This is not the end and we need to move quickly to ensure we have the quality of players and staff to provide the most competitive football possible and get back to a winning habit.”
A highlight of the last season has been the level of support for the team, particularly from members of the Leeds United Supporters Trust via Chairman Gary Cooper. Staff at the Derby County home ground were impressed by the number and spirit of the travelling Leeds fans which has been a feature of both home and away games.
One of the issues this season has been the lack of a frontline sponsor and it is an issue that still needs addressing. Without sponsorship for travel, kit and equipment it is difficult to attract the right quality of staff and players and the club struggles to fulfil it’s potential. On this subject Mick Ferguson is clear. “We can offer an attractive package to potential sponsors and we believe that sponsorship offers an excellent opportunity to support female football in the city.” Sponsorship opportunities range from group packages for community clubs to individual player sponsorship and interested parties should contact the Leeds United Foundation on 0113 367 6015.
Despite the disappointing end to the current season, work has already begun on planning next season with an AGM on June 11th and details of trials to be announced soon. All players will be invited to pre-season training after a well-earned period of rest.