A host of departing Reading Women players have issued emotional messages to supporters in the wake of news that the first-team side is being demoted to tier five.

The club confirmed on Sunday that due to a lack of funding, their Championship status was returned and a team will be fielded in Southern Region Women’s Football League while the Academy system has been shut down.

Now playing at a grassroots level, 16 semi-professionals from last season have departed with the hope of returning to a higher level.

Deanna Cooper, who played almost 80 times for the club, commented: "Words won't do justice to what we as the players are feeling."

Bethan Roberts, who rose through the youth ranks in more than a decade at the club, said: "After 12 years at Reading FC, it’s time to move on. I’m devastated by the circumstances in which this has come about, but this chapter has to come to an end.

"To all the staff I’ve worked with- thank you for all your dedication and belief in me. To all the players past and present- it’s been a journey full of ups and downs but I’ve played with some unbelievable footballers and made friends for life.
To the fans- thank you for sticking by our team and club. It’s not been easy over the last couple of years but your support has never gone unnoticed.

"It’s been an absolute dream to play for my hometown club and I’ve got memories to last a lifetime, but I’m excited for a new challenge."

Jackie Burns, a talented goalkeeper who featured regularly in the WSL, said: "It’s hard to find the right words to explain Reading Women and everything that has happened and is going on.

"I wish there was better times for this club to look forward to, but problems out of the control of everyone who was committed to the team make it tough. Women’s football should be evolving instead of taking these steps backwards. All that’s left to say is thank you."

Madison Perry, another Academy graduate who racked up first-team appearances, added: "Thank you to the fans, all the staff and all the girls for everything you’ve done for me and the club over the last few years, it’s been a pleasure and I'm forever grateful for everything I've experienced and the friends I've made along the way … time for the next chapter."

A message from the club itself read: "Each of these players has contributed significantly to the team, both on and off the field. Their commitment, talent, and passion have been instrumental in shaping the team's identity and successes over the years. As they move on to new opportunities, we extend our heartfelt thanks and best wishes to each one.

"Thank you for your invaluable contributions to Reading FC Women. We will always remember your time with us fondly and support you in your future ventures."