Reading stars of the past and present have reacted to the heart breaking news that the women's team will drop to the fifth tier and the Academy has been shut down.

The Royals, who spent nearly a decade in the WSL and reached an FA Cup semi-final, were a shining light of a women's set-up, becoming the first side to share the training ground and stadium with its male counterparts.

However, due to 'the complexities around separate ownership' funding was not forthcoming and the future of women's football in Berkshire looks bleak.

Kelly Cousins, who for a long time almost ran the women's set-up single-handedly, departed last summer for America.

Serving as captain, manager and Director of Football, Cousins had a near- 20-year association with the Royals.

"I actually don’t know what to say anymore," she said on X. "We can all fight from the outside but unfortunately there has to be people higher up in the club that want to fight too! "How one person can destroy a club layer by layer is mind-blowing! I feel so sorry for everyone! 17 years down the drain!"

Fara Williams, an England legend with 177 caps, spent four successful years in Berkshire at the end of her illustrious career.

"This is devastating for all involved," Williams explained. "I spent some of my best years at this club, both as a player and the girls RTC coach. It’s shocking that it has come to this. I feel for all the players and staff affected by this decision."

Emily Wallace, a defender for Watford Women, rose through the ranks with the Royals and called the club home for over a decade.

She commented: "Having played for the club from the age of seven until 20, the news is heart-breaking for all at Reading.

"A club that developed, guided and taught me to be the player I am today. Individuals have worked so hard for the club and it’s devastating that this is what it’s come to."

Similarly, Wolves Women defender Ellie Wilson spent a long time at her hometown club before departing for the likes of Sheffield United and London Bees.

Wilson added: "WSL to Tier five, in two seasons. HOW? How can a club with so much history & influence on the Women's game, be in this situation?!

"It's hard to express how much of a shame this is, especially for those who've successfully driven the club in the right direction for so many years!"