Melanie Reay: Shearer's cousin plots Sunderland Ladies' return to big time

Melanie Reay: Shearer's cousin plots Sunderland Ladies' return to big time

14-Feb-2020 10:00:27 | The Guardian

Birmingham of the WSL visit Sunderland on Sunday in the FA Cup and the resurgent Wearside club are keen to make a statement

Name the coach seconded to assist Phil Neville during his first two World Cup qualifiers as England women’s manager? She is related to a famous former striker; can you identify him? The respective answers – Melanie Reay and her cousin Alan Shearer – may challenge quiz participants outside the north-east, but few who know their women’s football. In the latter circles Reay is instantly recognisable as the gifted and ultra-loyal coach of a Sunderland Ladies side who were summarily demoted two divisions in 2018 when the Football Association turned a revamped Women’s Super League all professional.

Sunderland had just finished a respectable seventh but, with their parent men’s club hitting financial problems prompted by two swift relegations, they failed to meet the funding criteria required for a licence to play in the WSL or even the semi-professional Championship.

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