A multi-million-pound investment in a women’s football team has been called off because it would have left the men’s side out.

Discussions between Lewes FC and Mercury/13 ended after the football club said the deal would conflict with its “ethos, identity and structure”.

Mercury/13 is a multi-club ownership group focused on acquiring controlling stakes in professional women’s football teams and wants to invest $100 million in clubs in the next few years.

In July 2017, Lewes FC became the first professional or semi-professional club in the world to equally resource its men’s and women’s teams.

Both the men’s and women’s teams play at the club’s home ground in Lewes, The Dripping Pan.

Lewes FC is a 100 per cent community-owned club, led by directors elected by its 2,500-plus owners.

The club said Mercury/13’s mission to invest only in women’s football teams would pose a disruption “far too big” to Lewes FC’s foundation.

The women’s team plays in tier two and last season finished as the 21st-highest-ranked women’s side in England.

While the men are members of the Isthmian League Premier Division, which is the seventh tier of English football.

Lewes FC CEO Maggie Murphy said: “Lewes FC is a club that has always had community and social impact at its core. Through our discussions, we found that whilst we shared a common belief in the future growth prospects of women’s football, the structure needed to make this specific opportunity work would be too disruptive to other values that we hold dear.

“We are committed, as always, to identifying other opportunities for investment that can help us realise our full potential on and off the pitch. We remain a club with the vision, heart, and passion that we know can impact the wider football ecosystem for the better.

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“We’d like to thank the team at Mercury/13 for their professionalism and support throughout the process.”

The club said its board and CEO will continue to “actively explore alternative financing options that protect the values and strategy” of Lewes FC as an aspirational community club.

Mercury/13 CEO Victoire Souki Cogevina said: “The leadership team at Lewes FC have been incredibly professional, diligent, and provided thorough documentation throughout our investment process. Lewes is a pioneer in its approach to equality, and we firmly believe the club should continue to protect these principles.

“This decision does not in any way diminish our shared commitment to fostering equity and progress in women’s football. We were already big fans of Lewes and this process has allowed us to gain an even deeper appreciation for the club.

“From players to supporting staff, to management and fan-owners, it is clear that this is a very special club that we will always support in whatever way we can.”