NEW Burnley chairman Alan Pace has pledged to turn Burnley FC Women's team into a fully professional outfit, and has targeted promotion to the FA Women's Championship within the next four years.

And as part of the Clarets chief's long-term strategy to boost women's football, the Burnley FC Women's team and operations will be fully integrated into the football club.

Despite the current temporary suspension of the 2020/21 leagues due to Covid-19, the move will take place with immediate effect, meaning the day-to-day running of Burnley FC Women will move away from Burnley FC in the Community and become its own entity, operated as part of the club.

As such, the team will share the club’s Barnfield Training Centre facilities with their male counterparts

and will seek new partners on an international scale, with the aim of improving every level of Burnley

FC Women and its wider operations.

Major investment, including the creation of a Women’s Academy, is planned to move the women’s team to the next level, following unprecedented back-to-back promotions into the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division - the third tier of women’s football.

Clarets chairman Pace said: “The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup was arguably a turning point for the women’s game, attracting new fans and inspiring men and women all over the world to see football in a new light.

"The global pandemic has since had a huge impact on women’s football, but I believe it has a major role to play in the sport’s future growth, bringing in new audiences and demographics.

“Burnley FC is an inclusive club for all and today’s announcement signals our intent to put women’s

football at the very heart of it.

"Over the coming seasons we will fully support and invest in our new women’s football strategy, with the ambition to gain promotion to the FA Women’s Championship within four years and ultimately become a full-time professional outfit.”

Burnley chief executive Neil Hart added: “I would like to personally thank Burnley FC in the Community for all their hard work so far.

"I see this as a huge opportunity to move BFC Women forward and we will be supporting women’s manager Matt Bee and the players to do this. I am looking forward to rekindling my involvement with BFC Women and their full integration into the day to day operations of Burnley FC."

Burnley FC Women's manager Bee, who has overseen the team's back-to-back promotions, said: “Today’s announcement is exciting for all aspirational young footballers in Burnley, with the club

demonstrating real ambition within the women’s game and a commitment to invest in infrastructure and

development over the coming seasons.

"This is an exciting time for Burnley FC Women, and I can’t wait to work closely with Alan Pace, the ALK Capital team and Neil Hart to once again build on the fantastic success we’ve had in recent seasons when football can fully resume."