SUNDERLAND LADIES have relocated to South Shields, and will no longer share training facilities with the men’s team at the Academy of Light.

The switch has been instigated by senior executives at Sunderland, and is the result of difficulties that arose because of the switch of the Women’s Super League from a summer to a winter tournament.

Sunderland Ladies had been playing their home matches at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, but Sunderland use that facility for their development-team matches and with the WSL switching to winter, a number of fixture clashes became inevitable.

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As a result, the women’s team will now play their home games at Mariners Park, the home of Evo-Stik North side South Shields.

Sunderland Ladies will no longer be training at the Academy of Light as their evening sessions would have clashed with the training schedule of Sunderland’s junior teams, who use the indoor barn facility at the club’s training ground during the winter as the outdoor pitches do not have floodlights.

Melanie Reay’s female squad are set to relocate their training base to Northumbria University’s Coach Lane Campus in Benton, which backs on to Newcastle United’s training ground.

Earlier this year, Sunderland chief executive Martin Bain announced that the women’s side would be reverting to a part-time status despite their recent success in gaining promotion to the top-flight of the WSL.

The move was widely regarded as a cost-cutting measure, although Sunderland Ladies continue to have access to the club’s medical and physiotherapy facilities.

“Mariners Park is a great venue, and we are very much looking forward to our new season at South Shields,” said Sunderland Ladies general manager Sonia Kulkarni. “Our fans have given us such tremendous support over the last few seasons, and the move to Mariners Park will open up a whole new audience to women’s football, which is a huge positive for us.

“We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground. We had some memorable matches there, and would like to thank everyone at the Hetton Centre for their support.”

Sunderland Ladies play their opening game of the new season against Chelsea at Mariners Park on Saturday, September 30 (6pm).