Sunderland Ladies: WSL 1 club revert to part-time status
Sunderland Ladies are to revert to part-time status after three years employing some full-time players.
The Lady Black Cats finished seventh in Women's Super League One last year and fourth in 2015 after promotion in 2014.
A club statement said: "Having a mix of full-time and part-time players was not working as effectively as the club, and indeed the players, had envisaged.
"With a number of the squad committed to careers or study, full-time football careers were not an option for them."
The statement added: "A part-time model for players therefore ensures that students and those with careers such as teaching, can continue to be committed members of the first team squad, without having to make a choice between their career and football."
Chief executive Martin Bain added: "We are reviewing the operation of every aspect of the football club as we aim to improve, both on and off the field. Our support for women's football remains and we believe that at the present time this structure is a more effective way forward for all of us."
For the 2016 season, BBC Sport figures found that Sunderland were one of three top-flight clubs to see a decline in average home crowds compared to 2015.
Attendances at The Hetton Centre saw the biggest decrease in WSL 1, falling by almost 24% to an average of 710.
In December, the Football Association announced that WSL clubs will receive an increase in central funding from next season, with WSL 1 clubs set to have access to up to £92,500, up from £70,000.