Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha has agreed to make a “substantial financial contribution” to the club’s women’s team to “support the development” of their players.
Palace Ladies were accepted into the FA Women’s Championship — the second tier of women’s football in England — for the 2018-19 season in August.
A statement from the club denied reports that players were being asked to raise £250 in sponsorship or face leaving the side, explaining how exactly they are funded and saying that Zaha has offered to help the team.
“Everyone knows what Crystal Palace means to Wilf and he wants to give the same opportunities to the next generation of aspiring players at Palace Ladies that he enjoyed when coming up through junior teams,” the statement said.
“We are grateful for Wilf’s support and for the ongoing support of Crystal Palace Football Club and Utilita Energy, which enables our senior team to play in the FA Women’s Championship.
“Our senior squad currently consists of 21 players, all of whom are contracted to Palace Ladies and either receive a wage or are paid expenses.
“This is made possible by the substantial financial support we receive from Crystal Palace Football Club and our principal sponsor, Utilita Energy, who are committed supporters of the women’s game and are backing Palace Ladies for the third consecutive season.
“Our budget and business and marketing plans were clearly set out in our application to join the FA Women’s Championship; in common with many other clubs, we encourage players to seek personal sponsorship to help raise the club’s profile and build links with the business community, but it is not a condition of playing for Palace Ladies.
“All our other teams operate on an amateur basis and, as with any grass-roots membership club, players pay an annual subscription fee. To help the development of our reserve team players, we have heavily subsidised their annual membership fees.”
— Wilfried Zaha (@wilfriedzaha) September 5, 2018
Zaha signed a new five-year deal at Palace last month worth a reported £130,000 a week after he was linked with a move away from Selhurst Park.