Watford Ladies' players and staff have been left lamenting "false promises" over the future of the club, the Watford Observer understands, after it announced it will not be seeking to join the new full-time Women's Super League line-up next season.

The Lady Hornets will instead apply to play in the existing FA Women's Premier League - the third tier of women's football - and although promotion will be a possibility, the decision will essentially mark an immediate relegation for Keith Boanas' side.

The head coach is thought to be considering his position and a significant proportion of the squad - who were informed of the decision only 40 minutes before it was made public - feel they have been fed false promises.

Staff and players were operating under the impression Watford would at least apply for a full-time WSL licence until as recently as a week ago, with some summer acquisitions signed with assurances this would be the case.

And it is understood every indication from senior figures within the club over the past few months had suggested that it would look to support a full-time team.

Watford's public rationale for applying to drop into the third division is apparently not seen as a financial one by the club itself, although a statement did say it was seeking to build a "fully sustainable future provision" for its women's sides.

Instead, it will look to bring through local players to the squad at a level it believes it can do so - although the club concedes it will be viewed as unambitious for this decision.

Part of its reasoning does lie with the Football Association's plans for the proposed shake-up of women's football, and there is some understanding among both the club and players that their suggestions may yet prove unsustainable in the long-term.

Both groups feel others will follow suit in the near future in deciding against applying to join the full-time WSL.

But in the mean time, the squad is understood to be shocked and frustrated ahead of Sunday's trip to Aston Villa in WSL2, on the back of their first point of the campaign against Tottenham Hotspur last time out.