MEL Reay says promotion to the Women's Super League would be "huge" for Sunderland ahead of two season-deciding games in the Championship title race.

Second-placed Sunderland host Charlton, who are a point and a spot behind them in the table, at Eppleton on Sunday (2pm) before a final day trip to face leaders Crystal Palace, who they currently trail by just two points.

Palace will be expected to win at lowly Lewes this weekend, meaning Sunderland will likely have to win their last two games to secure promotion back to the WSL - which would be transformative for the club, says boss Reay.

“We know it would be huge to do it, it's where the club was and where it wants to be," she said.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for our young players and their pathway, to have an exit route to the very top of the game. It will showcase the club in a bigger light in terms of the coverage the WSL gets, you're on Sky Sports etc.

"You can attract bigger crowds, play at bigger stadiums. That's the ambition, whether that happens this season or the near future - that's where we want to be.

“It's why we play football, it's exciting and it's why we all love the sport. If it does go down to the wire then what an exciting story for the Championship. I think it's going to get tougher again next year, that's certainly been the case this year and it's an exciting and challenging league to be part of.”


If Sunderland do win promotion, they'll need a licence to join the WSL that will almost certainly require some investment from the club's ownership. Reay hasn't given that too much thought, with her focus purely on the football and getting the results her side require, but she's confident she'll have the backing of the club if Sunderland win the title next week.

“I think so, I've heard all the right things that I need to hear,” she said.

“At the same time, my full concentration has to be on the team and the next two games. Ultimately if we don't win the next two games then the application and all those meetings that need to take place are irrelevant.

"At the moment, it's still a case for me of just keeping all eyes on the grass and making sure the team is fully prepared. It’s all eyes on Charlton. We know we can’t slip up or we know that might be it done. The full focus for our last three weeks has been on this game coming up on Sunday.

"It's going to be a tight game, there's not going to be much in it and it's about winning your individual battles on the pitch. If we can do that then we'll get a good result.”

With a big crowd expected at Eppleton, Sunderland are advising supporters to buy tickets in advance.