A move often asked for, begged for, and pleaded for, became real on Thursday when the club announced the re-purchase of the historical training facility Melwood.
Only this time, Melwood will be updated to become an elite training facility for the Liverpool Women’s team, mostly bringing the Women’s team back to Merseyside.
The Women’s team will share the facility with their own academy as well as the LFC Foundation. The Found will use their part of the facility for community outreach programs, and in partnership with the Fowler Education and Football Academy (FEFA).
The facility was originally sold in 2019 to Torus - an affordable housing provider and developer - in preparation for the men’s team’s move to their brand new AXA Training Facility in 2020. While the criticism at the time (and to be fair even now) was that the Women’s team should have been included in the move to Kirkby, the change of leadership at the top of the Women’s side clearly had other plans.
A planning application will be brought forward “in due course” for the renovations that the facility will require. The club’s intention is that “Melwood will offer an elite facility that enables LFC Women’s first team to continue to compete at the highest level, attracting, developing and retaining the best talent in the game.”
Also buried in the announcement is the club’s plan to drop the honorific “Women” from the club crest entirely, to promote inclusivity and being very much a part of Liverpool FC. This move is not wholly unprecedented as clubs like Arsenal have been operating in this way for years. It’s honestly about time for Liverpool to catch up and make it official to really drive home their “one club” ethos.
“This is a truly historic moment for Liverpool Football Club and the continued desire of the LFC Women board to elevate and develop our women’s first team and Category 1 Professional Game Academy,” Liverpool’s Managing Director Andy Hughes said of the move.
“Now is the right time to make this move and we’re absolutely delighted that we’ve managed to take this opportunity to return to Melwood and to see it start a new chapter of Liverpool’s commitment to our women’s first team and academy.
“We also have an opportunity to further develop the use of the site to support the local community by using it as an additional base for LFC Foundation. We are delighted that FEFA will continue to use the site for its college that provides sport and educational opportunities for young people.
“We would like to thank Robbie Fowler and Jamie Carragher for their work with Torus since we left the site in 2019.
“We have always taken the views of the local community seriously and we look forward to re-engaging with them in the near future.”
No timetable was provided for the move or the renovations (considering a plan hasn’t even been submitted for approvals yet) so it is unknown when the Women’s team will be able to make the move back over the river. But now we know it’s coming and hopefully this hastens the search for a new playing home on Merseyside as well.