- guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 January 2010 20.53 GMT
Leeds Carnegie have withdrawn their interest in becoming founder members of the Football Association's new Super League, a decision that could lead to the club folding while also hindering the already rocky progress towards realising the FA's vision of a professional women's league played during the summer months.
"The girls were devastated, tearful and some of them very angry," said the manager, Rick Passmoor, after informing his players – seven of whom are in the current England squad – that their patrons Leeds Metropolitan University had opted out of bidding for one of the league's eight places.
"The University cannot commit to the substantial increase in budgets proposed under plans for Super League," read a statement from the university. Clubs were originally told that a minimum annual budget of £140,000 (half provided by the FA) was envisaged, but then came the stipulation that player salaries must be over and above that figure and £250,000 is now reckoned to be the likely annual spend. "It's disappointing that Leeds have withdrawn their bid," said the FA spokesman Johann Alexander, "but we have another 15 clubs interested and the process goes on."
Leeds Carnegie, who in a fortnight's time will face Everton in the Premier League Cup final, may not go on. "A decision will be made in due course about the support of the club," said the university spokesperson Helen Goodwin.
Even if the club survives it will be substantially weakened by the certain loss of key players. Passmoor said: "I've told the girls I want them to stick together for the rest of the season, win the League Cup and go out with a bang."