Sunderland Ladies set to return to Academy of Light as home venue revealed

Sunderland Ladies are returning to the Academy of Light and Hetton Centre
Sunderland Ladies are returning to the Academy of Light and Hetton Centre
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Sunderland Ladies will once again train at the Academy of Light after the club's new regime welcomed the side back in-house.

The Lady Black Cats were recently relegated to the third tier of women's football - the FA Women's National League - after an unsuccessful bid and then a failed appeal.

But they have been handed a boost in their pre-season preparations after the club confirmed that they would be returning to the Academy of Light to train.

Mel Reay's side were forced to train in Newcastle for most of last season after being told that the club's training base would be unable to accommodate them.

Sunderland, who finished seventh in the top flight last season, were also made to play their home games at South Shields' Mariners Park in a move which saw their attendances and gate receipts fall.

READ: Sunderland Ladies' demotion - how it happened, what it means and what next

But new owner Stewart Donald indicated early on during his tenure that he wished to bring the Ladies' side back in house, and such promises have no become a reality.

Reay's side will now be able to train at the Academy of Light while they will also return to the Hetton Centre - a venue which hosted the side for several years and drew in four-figure crowds on several occasions.

Such news was welcomed by club officials and the venue's management alike, with both sides excited to see the Lady Black Cats return to their former home.

Sonia Kulkarni, General Manager of Sunderland Ladies, said: “We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to everyone at Mariners Park for their help and co-operation last season and to all those fans who supported us.

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“Having previously played our games at Hetton, we know that there was huge interest in the women’s team and we are looking forward to returning and continuing to grow the interest in women’s football."

Hetton Town Trust Chairman Alex Scullion added: “It will be a pleasure to welcome the women’s team back home to Hetton.

"Hopefully they can once again make it the fortress it was for them in previous years, which saw them win promotion to the top tier of women’s football in England.”

Sunderland Ladies' first home fixture at the Hetton Centre will be against Fylde Ladies on Sunday, August 19 (kick-off 2pm).