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Last Updated: Friday, 3 August 2007, 12:58 GMT 13:58 UK
Leeds Utd women eye bright future
By Tony Leighton

Leeds star Sue Smith
Smith has been joined by some of her England colleagues
Leeds United's women's team have landed a five-year sponsorship deal worth in excess of 250,000.

Twelve months ago Leeds hit financial hardship after being cast aside by their Elland Road parent club.

But a new partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University has enabled them to recruit several international players and secure the club's future.

England players Steph Houghton and Carly Telford joined from Sunderland and Katie Holtham moved from Charlton.

And with England stars Sue Smith and Amanda Barr already in the club's ranks, new manager Rick Passmoor is demanding a concerted trophy hunt in the season ahead.

Passmoor said: "We've got to start competing with top teams like Arsenal and this new partnership will help us come a step closer.

"We've got ambitious aims - I've told the players that this season I want a top two finish in the league with no more than two defeats."


Passmoor is also looking to go one better than his predecessor Julie Chipchase in Cup competitions, Leeds having been defeated by Arsenal in both FA and League Cup finals in the last two seasons.

As well as boosting the Leeds United finances, the Leeds Met Carnegie partnership will provide the club with support from the University in areas such as administration and marketing plus the provision of sports science and performance facilities.

Leeds chairperson Mel Vauvelle said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for our club and hopefully a boost for women's football in general after what's happened to Charlton.

"It's great to have support from a men's club and hopefully we may get that from Leeds United FC again at some time in the future.

Arsenal are the best team in the country at the moment - but I think we can be the team of the future

Steph Houghton

"But women's teams have to be self-financing - and this new partnership shows that with hard work and the right approach, there can be a good future for the women's game.

"Our own future for the next five years is secure and we are also now in a position to compete with the top clubs for the signatures of leading players."

Leeds' new muscle in the transfer market is demonstrated by the capture of Houghton, who they beat quadruple winners Arsenal to sign.

The versatile 19 year-old, at home in midfield or defence, said: "It was really difficult choosing between the two clubs.

"I spoke to (Arsenal manager) Vic Akers and looked at the set-up down there, but when I spoke to Leeds I was very impressed with their plans and what this new partnership can bring to the club.

"Arsenal are the best team in the country at the moment, there's no doubt about that - but I think we can be the team of the future."

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