Phil Neville has questioned the unwillingness of his former club Manchester United to form a women’s team.
The new England Women coach admitted he has “no idea” why United remain one of only two Premier League clubs without an affiliated women’s side.
The only other top-flight team without a full women’s side, Southampton, has recently announced the formation of an under-21 team at St Mary’s.
Neville said: “A club of the size of United should be the leaders, the pioneers. I am sure they are working to do that.
“I have no idea (why they don’t have a women’s team). I will be encouraging them.
“They have a fantastic community programme for female players and coaches, some of the best in the country, and when they do set out their women’s team it will be one to challenge City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool.”
A previous United women’s team was abolished shortly after the takeover by the Glazer family in 2005 because it was not deemed part of the “core business”.
Rivals Manchester City set up a women’s team in 2012 and they have gone to become reigning FA Women’s Super League champions and reach at least the last eight of the Women’s Champions League in each of the last two seasons.