London City Lionesses players have expressed concerns over the future of the club and have called on owner Diane Culligan to seek new investors or a buyer. In an email sent on behalf of all 20 players by captain Harley Bennett on 2 June, they highlighted the club’s “very existence” being under threat due to financial instability and staff departures.
Responding to the players’ plea, a club statement emphasized their commitment to running the club in a sustainable manner and striving for excellence both on and off the pitch. The statement revealed ongoing discussions with globally recognized strategic investment partners to support the club’s growth. They reiterated their dedication to providing a conducive environment for players and staff as they aim for promotion from the highly competitive Women’s Championship to the Women’s Super League.
The players’ email outlined several concerns, including the lack of staff in key roles, a small number of contracted players, management of injured players, and the absence of a manager. They emphasized the urgent need for action, highlighting the risk of undoing the club’s progress and putting the future of contracted players in jeopardy. The players appealed to Culligan to explore alternative ways of running the club, such as seeking new owners and investors who can bring much-needed financial stability to ensure the team’s longevity.
London City Lionesses have been without a manager since Melissa Phillips’ departure in January, and they have undergone management changes. Nicola Williams was recently appointed as the first team’s assistant coach, while Nikita Runnacles served as caretaker manager last season.
The club, which launched in 2019 as an independent breakaway from Millwall Lionesses, has operated as a fully professional outfit under Culligan’s ownership. The players acknowledged Culligan’s courage and passion in establishing the team and urged her to consider all possible avenues for the club’s survival and growth.
The Football Association (FA) has been involved, holding meetings with Culligan and other club representatives earlier this year after being made aware of staff concerns. Clubs participating in the Women’s Super League and Championship must meet FA license requirements, which include financial stability, stadium availability, pitch standards, and player welfare. The FA is actively working with London City Lionesses to ensure they have the necessary financial support to meet the license criteria for the upcoming season.
In April, the club received approval from the FA to launch a tier one professional game academy, demonstrating their commitment to development despite concerns about meeting next season’s license criteria.
Following the players’ email, the club has also advertised sponsorship opportunities for the upcoming season. In the previous season, London City Lionesses finished third in the Women’s Championship, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Women’s Super League.
The future of London City Lionesses hangs in the balance as players appeal for urgent action to secure the club’s survival. The support of new investors or a potential buyer could be crucial in ensuring the club remains competitive in the Women’s Championship. The FA’s involvement and their proactive approach indicate a commitment to assisting the club in meeting license requirements. The decisions made by Diane Culligan in response to her players’ plea will determine the course of London City Lionesses’ future.