LIAM Gilbert has welcomed Premier League investment into the third and fourth tiers of women’s football in England, particularly for clubs hit by the pandemic.

On Tuesday, the FA Women’s National League announced the funding, which will see £1 million pumped in, in each of the next three seasons.

The strategy, coined Empowering For Success, will focus on eight key areas, including improving training for players, developing coaches, and improving the standard of refereeing.

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Gilbert’s Oxford United side finished second this season in National League Southern Premier, the third level of the women’s game.

He said: “It’s brilliant for our area and the entire country – however the money is spent, the fact it’s now available will hopefully have a better effect across the country, and for the clubs that have been struggling and finding times hard after Covid.

“Hopefully they’ll be able to put business plans together, to be more sustainable as football clubs, and we can start being our own clubs instead of relying on men’s clubs, which is still happening a fair bit.”

For United, who pushed for promotion to the second tier this season, Gilbert acknowledged the money may not have a direct impact on the pitch in the club’s quest to become a Women’s Championship side.

“The money will go to more off the pitch stuff, it’s more looking at building the infrastructure of the game and the level of expertise within that, so with the one per cents we normally talk about, I don’t think that will have a direct effect for us,” the U’s manager said.

“It could do where we get more fans in or more exposure, which is a one per cent in a different way.”

The specific details in how the money will be distributed among teams remains unclear, with Gilbert prepared to sit tight until the club finds out more from the FA.

He said: “The FA have sent out their strategy plan in how they want to divide the funding up, and when we see how that looks on an individual basis, we’ll have a better idea of what will be beneficial to us and what won’t.

“The conversations we’ve had with the FA are that more will go to different avenues of how to build up the entire women’s game.

“They’ve put together different packages of what each club will need at the level they’re at, and it’ll just depend on what’s beneficial to us.

“The million pounds will go across 74 clubs, they’re not going to be giving out lump sums to clubs.

“They’re going to be putting together things that will help to grow the game over the next two or three years.

“We can’t ask for funding directly, we can go and ask what will benefit us, but until they give the next level of how the plan will look, we’re waiting to see the details of it.”