Manchester United have submitted an application to join the second tier of the Women's Super League, the Premier League club have confirmed.
United and Southampton are currently the only top-flight clubs without a women's team. The Red Devils scrapped theirs in 2005.
The club have applied to the FA to form a professional women's team in the WSL2, as they look to challenge the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea, who have dominated the women's game in recent seasons.
A statement released by United on Wednesday read: "Manchester United has submitted an application to the Football Association to establish a professional women's team in the second tier of the Women's Super League.
"If successful, the move would provide a career pathway for players who graduate from the long-established and highly successful Girls' Regional Talent Club, which has seen some 15 of its graduates playing international football this season alone.
"The squad would be based at the club's historic training centre at The Cliff."
United chief executive Ed Woodward says the club's planned women's team will be built "in the same image and with the same principles" as the men's first team.
"We are pleased to announce that the club intends to establish its first ever professional women's team and has submitted an application to enter WSL2," he said.
"The FA has provided excellent support through the process and we believe that launching a team in WSL2 would give many more of our graduates from the Regional Talent Club the chance to establish themselves as first team players.
"The Manchester United women's team must be built in the same image and with the same principles as the men's first team and offer academy players a clear route to top level football within the club."
England Women head coach Phil Neville recently called on his former side to form a new women's team shortly after taking up his role with the national side.
"I will be encouraging them," said Neville. "They have a fantastic community programme for female players and coaches.
"When they do set out their women's team it will be one to challenge City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool. A club of the size of United should be the leaders, the pioneers. I am sure they are working to do that."