London: Manchester United have announced plans to form a women's professional team after long being criticised for lagging behind their rivals. The Premier League giants are the only top-flight club in England without a senior women's team.
United said they had submitted an application to the Football Association to join the second tier of the Women's Super League.
"We are pleased to announce that the club intends to establish its first-ever professional women's team and has submitted an application to enter WSL2," said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
"The FA has provided excellent support through the process and we believe that launching a team in WSL2 would give many more of our graduates from the regional talent club the chance to establish themselves as first-team players.
"The Manchester United women's team must be built in the same image and with the same principles as the men's first team and offer academy players a clear route to top-level football within the club."
Ex-United player and current England women's coach Phil Neville recently called on his former club to form a women's team.
Sports minister Tracey Crouch praised Manchester United for "finally dragging themselves into the 21st century" in the House of Commons on Thursday.
Commons Speaker John Bercow, an avid Arsenal fan, chimed in, saying: "They are light years behind Arsenal.