Lincoln Ladies: Casey Stoney accepts fans' anger over move

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The new team will be known as Notts County Ladies.

Lincoln Ladies captain Casey Stoney has sympathy for fans after the decision to rename the club Notts County and move games to Meadow Lane next season.

The team have been in the FA Women's Super League top tier for the last two seasons, finishing fifth and fourth.

But with the league expanding to two divisions in 2014, Lincoln will move 35 miles to a club where owner Ray Trew also has a controlling stake.

"There has been a lot of discontent and I understand that," said Stoney.

"I'm gutted for the fans because they have been brilliant and I hope they continue to support us for the rest of the season until we change over."

England skipper Stoney, 30, told BBC Sport: "All I would say to them is that your players haven't changed, they will absolutely give 100% for Lincoln while we are still Lincoln players."

According to the club, Lincoln have averaged crowds of 526 and 269 over the last two Women's Super League (WSL) seasons. The overall average for the summer league is about 500.

Under its new guise as Notts County, the team will remain one of eight teams in the top tier of the WSL next season.

However, some fans have compared the situation to MK Dons, who were formerly Wimbledon FC and moved to Milton Keynes in 2003.

Lincoln chief executive Luke Negus-Hill said: "I understand why the fans are upset. Notts County is 30-odd miles away and we won't forget Lincoln. We are just pushing into a bigger region in the East Midlands.

"It is about sustainability - we have to ensure we can deliver as per the FA requirements - and with the right backing from Ray Trew and Notts County we can do that.

"From a player perspective, the facilities and expertise that are available for the men's team at Notts County will become available for our team.

"We have to make sure this club continues and it is all about the progression of women's football."

The timing of the announcement from the FA last Thursday has also caused an issue with Doncaster Rovers Belles. After playing only one league game this term, they discovered they would compete in the second division next season.

Doncaster boss John Buckley said the move was a "farce" as his team would be "demotivated" for the rest of the season.

The FA said it would not comment on the application process until a two-week appeal period had passed.

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