JON FLATMAN believes York City Knights Ladies are “one of the big success stories in the sport this year” as they prepare for their maiden Betfred Challenge Cup final on Saturday (11.15am).

York travel to the Leigh Sports Village to face St Helens this weekend as they aim to complete a remarkable turnaround in their recent fortunes.

The Knights finished second-from-bottom in the 2019 Women’s Super League season, winning just one of their 13 games in the competition and suffering the biggest defeat of any side that year.

However since then, the club have had greater investment, making eight high-profile signings - including multiple England internationals - and adding Lindsay Anfield and Adam Cuthbertson to their backroom staff.

As a result, results have changed drastically and York have beaten Wakefield Trinity, Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers to secure a place in this weekend’s cup final.

On the side’s success, York chairman Flatman said: “When we first took over the club in the back end of 2016, there were some short, sharp priorities that needed dealing with immediately.

“That was fundamentally to get a men’s team on the field that could compete at that stage in League One.

“We reached a point around four to six months ago where we looked at the club as a club, not just the men’s first-team.

“There’s many parts to the club: the disability team, the men’s team, the women’s team, the juniors.

“And we saw an opportunity with the Ladies team. Women’s sport is on the up and it’s never been in such a good position.

"Broadcasters are interested in women’s sport like they never have been before and, from a corporate perspective, it is an absolute necessity.

“We had a great group of people in our Ladies team in the top tier and, I hold my hand up to this, it wasn’t something I’d given enough focus or energy to.

“But I thought now was the right time to invest in it. We’ve got two of the best coaches in Lindsay and Adam, who expressed an interest in being part of something special.

“They’ve shaken it up with their own ideas and they’ve absolutely delivered to their word and they’ll continue to do that.

“It’s been one of the big success stories in the sport this year.”

As well as offering the chance to win a first Challenge Cup trophy, the game will give the Knights mainstream attention, with the final is being shown live on BBC Two.

“To reach a Challenge Cup final is absolutely fantastic and they are 80 minutes away from silverware," said Flatman.

“And what an opportunity on terrestrial TV. Should they bring home the silverware, that’s fantastic for the city, the club and the team."