Polly Bancroft exclusive: Manchester United Women ahead of curve with new ‘Head of Women’s Football’ role | Football News


The appointment of Polly Bancroft as Manchester United’s head of women’s football has positioned her as one of the most powerful executives in the English women’s game.

In this unique and brand new role, Bancroft will be responsible for helping to take United to the pinnacle of European football.

Bancroft started the process of becoming Manchester United’s first women’s football boss like any other job application.

“I saw the ad!” he told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview. “I was immediately interested in the scale of the role and the opportunity that this brand has, both in terms of the participation of the women’s first team in the Women’s Super League, but also, broadly, the power of the brand at the level international and the power for good it brings.”

Bancroft had spent the past two years as managing director of Brighton’s women’s team, having previously worked for UEFA and the FA.

“Bringing integration and collaboration was how I worked [at Brighton]”, he explains. “Without a doubt, there is also a desire to do it at Manchester United.

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“There is a lot of knowledge and experience within the club. This club knows how to play football.

“And yet it’s balancing that understanding of female athletes and the women’s game with understanding and learning from the men’s side. [It’s about] these two combinations of specialty and experience and bring them together.”

The role, “head of women’s football”, is quite unique within the women’s game, but it’s a position Bancroft believes we’ll see more WSL clubs adopt as they realize they can’t necessarily translate their understanding to the men’s game clearly to that of women.

“There are certain nuances when it comes to working with female athletes. We’re in a different league, so certain different rules and regulations have to be met. So it’s not a copy-and-paste model, but understand the needs of the game and be able to navigate that.”

At United, the role will be a boardroom role that combines business and footballing elements.

“I think there are several different layers to the role,” says Bancroft. “Obviously it’s working very closely with Marc [Skinner], the players and the staff with the first women’s team. But also along the way.

“We have eight women’s teams within the club and have also just launched an Emerging Talent Centre.

“So we’re supporting all those women and girls along the way, to then further integrate women’s football within the club. We’re working with the recruitment department, the club secretaries, commercial, the legal department.

“And I guess the third layer is working with the main players in the game. Working with the FA, the broadcasters and our fan base to further develop the women’s game.”

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Highlights from the Women’s Super League match between Manchester United and Chelsea

The fact that women’s soccer only grows with each passing season means that many of the challenges Bancroft could face in her new role are not yet apparent.

One of those changes likely to come is the WSL’s transition from being run by the FA, which Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has called for.

“[We’re] look internally in terms of our role in these conversations. We have club members who are very involved in different committees within the FA, and I think we have an excellent role and a good voice… in those conversations.

“There is a lot of dialogue between clubs and with the FA about the best future for the women’s game. Everyone is committed to finding the best long-term home for the women’s game.”

That’s just one potential development that Bancroft will look to navigate in his new role. Surely there are other challenges on a more everyday level.

“I think because the breadth of the role is so big, it’s football and it’s not football, it’s about working through the priorities to have the biggest impact.

“I think [it’s about] being able to be aware of the different requests that occur, whether in marketing, recruitment and working with staff.

“So I think it’s just being able to be very clear about what the priorities are and then stick to your guns and use your knowledge and experience, but do it in the right way.”

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Our pick of Ella Toone’s best moments from the Women’s Super League after the striker signed a contract extension with Manchester United

Obviously, with a club the size of Manchester United, it will still come first to what happens on the pitch.

There have been three straight quarter-finals in the WSL, but now there are also three Euro 2022 winners in the squad: Mary Earps, Alessia Russo and Ella Toone. Expectations will only rise.

“There has been rapid growth. This is the fifth season of the new era.

“We’re ambitious and we want to win every game. We want to compete in the latter stages of every competition we’re in. And we’re all behind Marc and the whole team at the club to help us achieve that.” .

In Bancroft, Manchester United may have found the final piece of their puzzle.

Watch Arsenal Women vs Man United Women live on Sky Sports Main Event on Saturday from 5.15pm; start 5.30 p.m.


Source: Polly Bancroft exclusive: Manchester United Women ahead of curve with new ‘Head of Women’s Football’ role | Football News

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