Saints have committed to spending £1m-a-year to fund their women’s and girl’s teams.

After years without a women’s side, the club have established a firm base with their regional talent centre and have hired England legend Marieanne Spacey-Cale to oversee the set-up and manage their first team.

The aim is to have a side in the Women’s Super League as quickly as possible with Saints currently four promotions away from making that a reality.

And they are pledging serious backing to make it happen.

Saints managing director Toby Steele explained: “This is our second season of running the women’s first team in a regional league with hopes to climb up into the Women’s Super League within a few years so we have made a pretty significant investment in that.

“All told and taking our regional talent club, which is youth development, and the first team, we are investing about £1m into that part of the club.

“We see it as a good development for us, good engagement for the fans and opening ourselves up to new fans and we are really enjoying seeing the performance of those teams adding to the club.”

Saints failed in their application to jump into one of the top two divisions when the women’s pyramid was recently restructured but remain confident they will find themselves there in time.

“We weren’t successful with our application and we are pragmatic enough to realise that won’t happen again unless something pretty drastic happens and then we will put your hands up because in our view we have everything from a track record perspective to show we can slot straight in there,” said Steele.

“That would mean three to four seasons before we are there via gradual promotions. Of course, that is not a given and we need to compete and so on, but the investment we have made around the infrastructure and getting ourselves ready.

“The investment has been around the physios, the coaches, and mirroring everything we do both from the academy perspective and the men’s team into the women’s team.

“Yes, it is a significant investment, but we don’t want to do it half-hearted. We want to put the investment in now so we hopefully have a smoother ride into the Women’s Super League in time.

“It is absolutely embedded in the club so everybody who is involved in the women’s team works within the offices at Staplewood, has access to the same facilities, they are training there as well. It is not like they are segregated away and just being called the club. They are 100 per cent part of the club.”