JONATHAN James this week stepped down as chairman of Doncaster Rovers Belles - with the club said to be on the brink of becoming a full time professional outfit.
James’ four-year reign saw the Belles win an exclusive place in this year’s inaugural FA Women’s Super League.
The outgoing chairman told the Free Press that he believes the Belles will turn professional within the next 12 months.
James has passed the boardroom baton to retired police officer Alan Smart, who was appointed as vice chairman at a board meeting on Monday night.
James said: “I’m stepping down but I will remain a volunteer and a huge supporter of the Belles.
“There is now a fantastic opportunity for someone to come in and become the new chairman and take the club forward.
“I firmly believe that this time next year the girls will be full time and every game will be on television.
“The women’s game is taking off, thanks in no small part to the ongoing World Cup, and this is a very exciting period of the Belles’ history.
“I’ve had a fantastic time as chairman and I wish the club every success in the future.”
Super League clubs have been instructed by the Football Association to set up professional full time business models, a demand that James was unable to combine with his role as a global manufacturing manager.
Doncaster-born Smart, who joined the Belles board three months ago, takes over as the club’s vice chairman and general business manager.
Smart, 51, said: “We want the Belles to have a standing not just in UK women’s football but also world football.
“There’s a big buzz about the Women’s World Cup at the moment and we need to tap into that.
“The likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton have a link to their men’s sides but we don’t have that at Doncaster.
“What we need is more people to get involved and help take things forward.
“Women’s football is an entertaining and accessible product, almost 140,000 people watched our game with Everton on ESPN earlier in the season.
“My task is to get the people and businesses of Doncaster to buy into that.”