Hashtag United will be fielding a new women’s team when football returns after the coronavirus for season 20/21.
The one-of-a-kind football and e-sports club launched in 2016 by YouTube creator Spencer Owen announced they were merging with AFC Basildon Women at 5pm on Monday.
The newly-rebranded team will play as Hashtag United Women FC in the FA Women’s National League Division 1 South East, the fourth tier of women’s football in the UK.
The move will see Essex’s most successful women’s football club introduced to Hashtag’s global audience of over one million fans across their digital platforms. The club will also field Under 23 development and U18 youth sides.
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Both clubs saw promising league and cup campaigns for the past season ended following the recent Football Association decision to expunge results of all competitions below Non-League’s top two tiers.
Hashtag were in pole position to secure back-to-back promotions from the Essex Senior League to the Isthmian League. They also had two cup semi-finals to come while AFC Basildon were vying for promotion in their league, having already booked a final spot in the BBC Essex Women’s Cup.
The club hopes that the announcement of the partnership will give both sets of fans and players a boost during the UK’s lockdown to fight the coronavirus and increase anticipation for the season to come.
Owen made the announcement on Hashtag United’s YouTube channel at 5pm, in a video which also features good luck messages from personnel at both clubs as well as fans and a number of top names from women’s game and Chelsea Women including Sue Smith, Karen Carney and Siobhan Chamberlain.
The club’s founder said: “Our goal at Hashtag United has always been to grow the club at a controlled and steady rate with an aim of being inclusive and representational for all. Following the 2019 Women’s World Cup I made a personal pledge to support the growth of women’s football and had been looking for the right opportunity to do so since.
Click on the image to play Hashtag’s video release
“I knew the best-case scenario would be bringing a women’s team under our wing at Hashtag so I could ensure continuous support long-term. After reaching out locally to see what teams were in need of support, AFC Basildon stood out from the rest right away as a club that are not only geographically very close to our base but are also the most successful women’s team in the county.
“Upon meeting the committee there I felt we were on the same page in terms of what we want to achieve. They’ve done a fantastic job in getting the club to where it is and now we want to see what we can do working together.
“This is a very uncertain time for much of football right now but we hope that by committing to the growth of Hashtag United we can reassure our players, staff, volunteers, supporters, and future supporters, that we will continue to do what we are good at in giving people a thoroughly enjoyable football experience, whether they play for us, work with us, support us or watch us online.
“This move also furthers the important process of us putting down some permanent roots and providing opportunities to those in our local community, whilst simultaneously bringing more attention to the women’s game.”
We’ve really enjoyed having him with us, but the time has come for @JRA10 to join his new team with our friend/investor @CesarAzpi , and we all wish them the best of luck.
Full info here:https://t.co/Gh7mV9ZsxT
— Hashtag United (@hashtagutd) April 20, 2020
Basildon’s secretary Sean Eldridge added: “We are all really excited for the opportunity to join Hashtag United. After meeting Spencer, it was clear that we shared the same vision to build a lasting, sustainable football club that can compete at the highest level and give opportunities to women and girls in the local community.
“Combining our experience in Women’s football with Hashtag’s world-class social media expertise feels like the perfect fit and will give the FA Women’s National League the exposure and audience it so thoroughly deserves. On the pitch, we have one of the most exciting young teams in the league and we hope to build on that for the 2020/21 season as we embark on this new and exciting chapter in the club’s history.
The women’s first team will continue to play home games at Canvey Island FC, with the men’s team moving to Bowers & Pitsea FC after a season at Tilbury FC. Both teams will be supplied by adidas, with a new home kit launching this summer.
Under the partnership, AFC Basildon’s social accounts have been rebranded and will now be run in conjunction with Hashtag United, allowing the club’s global fanbase to engage with the women’s teams. New content plans for the expanded club are expected to be revealed ahead of the new season.
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper from this weekend for the latest news on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on football as the National League’s clubs prepare for an historic first poll on how to conclude their ‘indefinitely’ suspended campaigns.
In shops on Sundays and Mondays until they close, The NLP is always available as a pound-busting digital edition and full replica of the printed paper from midnight on Saturdays. Save cash on single issues, even more on longer deals and the pages still rustle!
Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & @hashtagutd/Twitter