Reading’s Charlie Estcourt blasts ‘poor communication’ from club on future of women’s team

Reading’s Charlie Estcourt blasts ‘poor communication’ from club on future of women’s team

CHARLIE ESTCOURT has criticised a lack of communication from Reading officials over the future of the Royals’ women’s side.

The Wales ace, 26, was sharing her thoughts a day after the launch of an online petition hoping to prevent the former WSL team and its girls’ academy from being axed.

AlamyReading and Wales midfelder Charlie Estcourt says she has not had much communication from the Royal concerning the situation facing their women’s team[/caption]

Players and supporters fear the Royals’ girls academy and women’s side could be at risk of being axed

Earlier this month it was reported the Royals’ women’s section, whose former players include England’s Fran Kirby and Mary Earps, could be at risk of being shut down.

This follows the FA rejecting a proposed takeover bid of the club which is currently owned by businessman and entrepreneur Dai Yongge.

According to The Guardian only two players from Reading Women’s senior side currently have contracts.

Parents of players in the Royals’ girls academy say they have been warned “there is no guarantee for the women’s football club and academy for the 2024/25 season”.

And Estcourt, who helped her side finish tenth in the Women’s Championship last term, described the situation as a “worrying time” with costs being cut across the club.

On Saturday, the 40-capped Wales midfielder told BBC Radio Berkshire: “We haven’t heard too much directly from the club, but have seen what everyone else has seen.

“It doesn’t sound good. No kits being ordered for the women’s pre-season, threats of us dropping down to tier four or there not being a side at all, so it’s worrying times.

“There had been whispers about it for a while.

“I had never really taken them seriously and didn’t think there was any substance behind the rumours.

“But as the off season has gone on we haven’t heard anything and with a couple of weeks left on people’s contracts, it feels as if it’s becoming very real.

“As far as I know, no one knows anything but we haven’t heard from our staff so I don’t know whether that means they haven’t heard from anyone at the club.

“The communication from all levels unfortunately has been very poor.”

Estcourt’s comments in a BBC interview broadcast on June 21, came two days after the creation of an online petition call in support of Reading Women.

The petition, which on Monday evening had 3,123 signatures, is calling on the FA to help avert “the permanent dissolution” of the side and its girls’ academy.

Last term Reading’s Under-21s team won the Berks and Bucks Cup by beating the senior side of MK Dons.

Although their Royals’ future is currently up the air, players who signed PGA academy contracts with Reading Women are currently restricted from contacting other clubs.  

And one parent of a player says they will remain under contract unless the club were to lose its PGA academy status.

It is claimed the FA will require confirmation of Reading’s academy status to be made by July 1.

After this girls within the Royals’ academy will be free to contact other clubs.

A parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “We were devastated to learn that there is an imminent threat to not only Reading Women’s football club, but also the girls’ academy too. 

“Reading FC have been pioneers in women’s football over the years and have had players such as Earps, Kirby and Fara Williams to name just a few. 

“Only last year, they were playing in the WSL.

“Due to a cut in funding we’ve watched them struggle to maintain a place in the Championship which they successfully managed to do through sheer grit.

“As the mother of a young player, I believe there is a huge discrepancy between how professional women’s football is portrayed and what it’s really like. 

Last season the Royals Under-21s women’s side won the Berks and Bucks Senior Women’s Cup

“The FA narrative is that it’s a great time to be an elite young female football player in the UK, and that they can offer a clear and supportive pathway to become a Lioness. 

“However, the harsh reality on the ground is very different unless you’re signed to a club like Chelsea or Arsenal.”

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