Barnsley Women Football Club’s Chief Executive Steve Maddock believes the team have the potential to be in the Super League in five years, despite narrowly avoiding relegation last season.
Barnsley are currently third in the Women’s National League Division One North, three points behind league-leaders Burnley and are two promotions away from being in the second tier of the Women’s Super league.
Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Leeds made it seven straight wins for the Tykes, who are now starting to believe they can challenge for the league’s only promotion place.
This would be a remarkable turnaround in 12 months after the club avoided relegation by a single goal last season.
However, a squad overhaul and a new manager has seen the side go from strength to strength and Maddock wants the team to keep their ambitions high.
He said: “We’ve got a five year plan to get to the Super League but I think we could do it in two or three.
“Lissa Woodhouse hadn’t played that much 11-a-side football before she came to us and now she’s our top scorer.
“We’ve got a lot of new players, a new manager and we’re lucky to have Dave Kelly, who has worked with Manchester United for eight years, advising players and staff so we’ve got a great system in place.
“I think some teams have come here this season and not taken us seriously but after a difficult start to the season we’ve now won our last seven and are in a great position.”
Maddock has also been working hard to establish a stronger relationship with the men’s club, who have agreed to promote the women’s team on social media platforms, as well as allowing players to wear the club’s shirt.
“All the players are proud to wear the Barnsley shirt, including our 11 junior teams.
“The men’s club have 110,000 followers on twitter so it’s fantastic that they are able to raise our profile and we had about 300 people at our game against Leeds which I think is the biggest crowd in the league this season.”
South Yorkshire women teams have struggled in recent years with the former FA Cup winners Doncaster Belles unable to financially sustain a Women’s Super League team.
However, with the creation of a Sheffield United Women’s team, who were placed straight into the Super League 2, Maddock believes the growth of the game will get stronger but admitted the financial requirements can often put pressure on clubs.
“You need about half a million for the Super League Two and probably double that for the Super League One. It can be a lot of pressure on clubs and the FA might have to re-think the way they do things in that respect.”
Barnsley play their home games at Oakwell’s Academy ground and they’ll be back in action on the 2nd December at home to Newcastle.