Sunderland handed major boost as bid for promotion to the Women's Championship is successful
Sunderland have been successful in their bid to win promotion to the FA Women's Championship.
It is a major boost for Mel Reay's side, who had seen their last National League North campaigns curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the best points-per-game average in the division in that time (and a strong cup record), they were well placed when the FA confirmed its intention to open up an application process for promotion to the second tier.
However, the club had to put forward a comprehensive proposal to meet the licencing criteria.
Sunderland s excellent record in producing playings through the regional talent centre has continued in recent times and was integral to the success of the bid.
"Applications were marked against a criteria weighted 75% on-field and 25% off-field," an FA statement said.
"The on-field criteria considered aspects such as points per game, cup performances and goal difference, across the last two seasons.
"The off-field section marked clubs on areas such as club structure, workforce and facilities.
"Clubs applying to move into the FA Women’s Championship also had to demonstrate that they would be able to meet the required licence criteria."
Sunderland will be joined in the 12-team Championship for next season by Watford, who were also successful in applying for promotion from the National League South.
Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman has stressed the new executive regime's commitment to women's football in the city and said the club could now move forward with improving the infrastructures around the team.
"We are delighted to have been awarded FA Women's Championship status and we thank the FA panel for approving our application," Speakman said.
"This success is a testament to Leann Cowperthwaite [Head of Academy Operations], who project managed the submission, and to the collaboration between our football and business operations, who produced a detailed proposal despite facing a quick turnaround.
"It also represents a tangible reward for Mel and the team for their stellar record over the last 24 months and we now look forward to delivering on our plan and building our infrastructure to support the players and staff during the upcoming campaign."