IT'S Bridgwater Town, Jim, but not as we know it...

From next season, Bridgwater Town Football Club and Yeovil United FC are to unite under one name - Bridgwater United Football Club.

Following approval from the relevant football authorities, men's and women's football will be brought together in Bridgwater under the new name from the start of the 2020/21 campaign.

Adam Murry, who rescued Yeovil Town Ladies (as they were then known) from financial collapse in 2019, became Bridgwater Town's chief executive earlier this year.

Murry said: "’This exciting announcement is only just the beginning for Bridgwater United FC.

"Supporters, and indeed the town as a whole, can expect further organisational developments to be released in the coming weeks.

"There has been an incredible amount of work undertaken in recent months and it will demonstrate our determination to return the women’s side to the Women’s Super League (WSL) and see our men’s team progress through the National League System."

This 'one club' approach will, says Ewan Greenhill (chief operating officer and club director), enable Bridgwater United to "acquire the mantel of one of the biggest football clubs within the South West region".

Greenhill added: "The one club will now offer football through their women’s and men’s 1st XI sides, the Under-21 Women’s FA National Reserve League squad, a newly introduced Under-23 men’s squad, the Dual Career Academy Education programme, the existing Girl’s Academy and the newly-launched boys academy, with trials beginning in May.

"As one club, the current strength and potential upside of growth in both the male and female pathways will provide a stronger future for the club and the town of Bridgwater itself.

"The club will now operate with an increased amount of full time resources and with a greater pool of experienced people in coaching, administration, commercial and marketing."

Yeovil United are currently in the Women's Southern Premier Division (third tier of the women's league pyramid), while Bridgwater play in the Western League Premier Division (Step 5 of the National League System).

The unified club will work towards 'Elite Academy Status' within both the male and female pyramids, with its academy to support the development of young players in Somerset and the South West, from Under-9 to Under-23 level.

Uefa-licensed coaches will lead their development, while the boys programme will join the girls in playing matches in the Junior Premier League (JPL), and the club will continue its education partnership with Bridgwater & Taunton College.

Chairman Bob Buckingham said: “This merger will further enhance our place within the heart of our local community, something that has been a key driver during the five years I have been directly involved with the club.

"The success of our ‘United 4 Bridgwater’ Marathon Challenge, which raised more than £10,500 for local charities, was a testimony to that commitment.

"The clubs joining forces is the first step towards our ambitious, extensive plans for the future at Fairfax Park.

"It is a truly pivotal moment for our club as we embark on what we are certain will be an exciting and fulfilling journey for us all."

Dave Pearse, joint manager of Bridgwater Town's 1st XI, commented: “This is another big step forward into new heights for the football club.

"The joining of the two clubs and the array of future developments makes it a really exciting time to be part of this big project, not just on the pitch but off it as well.

"This will make the club the centre of the community and something for the whole town to be a part of."

Karl Baggaley, joint manager alongside Pearse, added: "What a great opportunity for the town of Bridgwater to be involved in this exciting news, starting from a new academy with a natural progression into men's football and beyond with the standard of coaching and facilities available.

"I'm really pleased to be part of this and am looking forward to the challenges ahead.

"After the success of our charity event it proves both the men and women's teams will be united for both the club and each other.

"Let's bring many years of success and enjoyment to everyone involved with Bridgwater United."

Jamie Sherwood, Yeovil United 1st XI manager said: “The decision to see the clubs merge as Bridgwater United is the right one, to allow for our own sustainability and to allow the region to have an even higher profile female football club than it already does.

"The vision and the commitment to achieving the ambition that Mr Murry has set out for Bridgwater United takes me back to the days when the club first took its journey to the top tier of the women’s game, and this infectious ambition is a huge contributing factor as to why I believe it’s right to provide a joint home next to our headquarters at the college, pool resources and the professional support we will be offered."