Swedish champions Göteborg FC have dissolved their senior side just two weeks after going out of the Women's UEFA Champions League.
Göteborg won their domestic title for the first time in their 17-year history last month, and went down 5-1 on aggregate to Manchester City on 17 December.
But Peter Bronsman, the club chairman and owner of its main sponsors Kopparbergs, decided to stop funding immediately after that defeat and has released players including several Sweden national team players heading to Tokyo 2020.
Rio 2016 silver medallists Pauline Hammarlund, Stina Blackstenius and Elin Rubensson were among those told they would have to look for new clubs on Tuesday (29 December) with Göteborg saying they will help them do so.
"I had no idea, nobody did. It really was a bolt from the blue. I was very shocked, sad and confused. I did not understand anything." - Elin Rubensson speaking to fotbollskanalen.se,
Bronsman told Göteborgsposten, "There is no short answer to why, but it will be best in the long run. In 2003, we were commissioned by Gothenburg politicians to invest in women's football and run a club like the big men's teams in the city. They thought we could.
"Seventeen years later, IFK Göteborg, BK Häcken, Öis and even Gais all have women's teams. We have done what we promised we would and created many role models.
"Now that men's teams are opening up activities for women too, we think they should take the baton."
He added, "A few years ago we beat Manchester City 8-0, now they have moved past us. They have done so terribly well."
Göteborg FC, who had USWNT star Christen Press in their ranks in 2018, had recently held talks over a merger with the city's biggest men's club IFK Göteborg.
Another top Swedish side, Tyresö FF, was dissolved six years ago due to financial difficulties a week after reaching the Champions League final with Brazilian star Marta in their squad at the time.
England international Anita Asante expressed her shock at the news.
A statement on Göteborg FC's website read, "Women’s football has grown massively in Europe in the last couple of years. Big men's teams like Lyon, PSG, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United, Barcelona, and Juventus have realised the potential of women’s football. They've given women’s football resources we can’t match.
"We’ve created big interest for women's football in Gothenburg and showed that it's possible to establish a top team, even win a championship, as long as you have clear goals in creating challenges and motivation. This is something the professional clubs in Gothenburg must now continue. If they do, we're convinced that women’s football in Gothenburg will quickly take new steps forward."