Division 1 Féminine, footofeminin articles, France

Amandine Henry in PSG training camp before officially signing up in January

Her move to PSG had been rumoured for a while now, the France WNT midfielder will play a few months for PSG before going back to the USA.

The PSG team are going towards Montpellier this morning, where in there will have a pre-season training camp in the South of France ( Hérault department number 34).  A new player has been added to the squad that is currently at the top of the League.

Amandine Henry will officially sign up in early January  will make use of the four days camp to prepare for her three months stint (until March)  with PSG Feminines.

In Division 1 Feminine, she has played for Hénin-Beaumont, CNFE at Clairefontaine and Olympique Lyonnais.  PSG will be her fourth club in the French top division. This is a good time to get back into the groove as 2017 will be an important year where France will take part in the 2017 Euros in the Netherlands.

As she has been operated for an athletic pubalgia in early November, Amandine Henry needs to get back into her rhythm and the three months PSG offer is the right one for her. She recently declared that she needed some competitive football before going back to the NWSL. She did her rehab in Qatar, and straight after her time at PSG, will go back to the Portland Thorns and play in the National Women’s Soccer League .

This is the translation from the article on the website http://www.footofeminin.fr that you can find here 

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FA Women's Cup

Southampton Women v Swindon Town

With no FA WSL development game around, I turned my attention to the FA Women’s Cup game that was postponed last week, Southampton v Swindon.

If you want a real and proper match report, please go to http://www.womenssoccerscene.co.uk/ as they should publish it on the website tonight or tomorrow. You can also see pictures from the game here : http://www.jamesprickett.co.uk/2016-17/SvS111216/index.html

For those who don’t know me, I am an Arsenal Ladies fan but with no first team or reserves game, I decided to watch a different game this Sunday. Note that I actually had plan A,B,C and D, in case of games being postponed due to pitch not being playable.

So I set off early on Sunday morning, took the 65 bus to Richmond and then expected to get the train to Clapham Junction. Of course I did not check the engineering work and it was a replacement bus from Reading to Clapham Junction. So I ended up taking the London Overground train up to Willesden Junction and back down to Clapham Junction.

After waiting to see if the game was likely to be postponed again, I set off for Basingstoke where I met Patrick and James, got some excellent French cheese and saucisson from the French market and did our car ride to the ground.

This the the part of the women’s footie games that I really enjoy ie meeting friends that I see at games and enjoy watching them together, making it a nice afternoon and also it is  nice to see players that I have seen play for many years and different clubs.

For example, at today’s game, I was glad to see Kirsty Whitton for Southampton. Kirst used to play for Yeovil and came back after a long term injury. I was also pleased to see Lois Colley in action, although she started the game on the bench. Lois used to play for Middlesex u17 and then London Bees before moving to the USA and came back in England this season and plays now for Swindon.

I find it nice to see how players evolve and improve through their career, for example I remember Gemma Davison back in 2004/05 and n0w a full international. or Ashelight Goddard from the Arsenal Academy time who went to De Paul Uni in Chicago and now plays for London Bees.

Back to the game and Swindon are playing two divisions above Southampton but on the day, we did not see the difference between the two sides. The sides were evenly matched and it was no surprise in the end to see a cup upset with Southampton winning by two goals to nil.

The first goal came in the first with a corner that the goalkeeper dropped while trying to catch it and it was finished from close range. The second goal came in the second half from a left footed a cross cum shot from the right wing that went above the goalkeepers head. she touched the ball but could not clear it.

Swindon could have come back into the game with a penalty that went high and wide and there was no fightback from there. What I noted is ball possession was quite equal with Southampton making good use of the ball throughout the game and Swindon struggling in general to create clear chances.

The two Southampton center backs were extremely solid and only when Swindon introduced two wingers, they started to stretch the Southampton defense. But it was too little to late.

Overall it was a well deserved victory for Southampton who were compact in defense and had a quality passing game throughout the 90 minutes. Cambridge United will be their opponents in the next round on the 8th of Jnauray.

 

 

 

 

 

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FA WPL, FA WSL, FA WSL 2

The FA open the FA WSL licensing from 2018-19, analysis part 2

In part 2, I will speak about certain things that don’t make sense to me in the FA information published yesterday

This is part of the FA WPL 2016/17 regulations published by the FA  a few months ago

For Season 2016/17 the Champion Club as determined by the Championship Play-Off Final match outlined at paragraph (iv) will be promoted to FA WSL subject to eligibility and ability to meet FA WSL Licensing Criteria.”

Now if that promotion happens, the FA WSL2 would have 11 teams in 2017/18 and one team will be relegated as what is written below at the end of that season ? The wording from the FA is extremely confusing on that situation.1

Let’s rewind to the Spring Series, FA WSL 1 will have 10 teams and FA WSL 2 will have 10 teams.  Their season end in May 2017 for WSL 2 and early June 2017 for WSL 1. The FA WPL play-off should happen early May like in the previous seasons.

If the FA WPL play-off winner is promoted as per the regulations, the FA WSL 2 will have 11 teams in 2017/18. In the meantime, the promoted team won’t be in the running for a 2018/19 license, as there are 20 open and only to the current FA WSL teams with a deadline at the end of March 2017. Does this mean that team will automatically get relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season ?

But if we look at the BBC article about the changes, it seems promotion from the FA WPL won’t happen at the end of the 2016/17 season.

“There will be one relegation spot in WSL 2 from the end of the first winter season to drop out of the WSL.

One club will continue to be promoted from the WPL up to the second tier, via a play-off, each season, with the winners of the WPL Northern Division facing the Southern champions.

In between WSL 1 and WSL 2, one team will continue to be relegated each season, while one team will be promoted.

This one-up, one-down system throughout the top three tiers means there will a total of 20 teams in the WSL, with 10 teams in each division, bringing a halt to the WSL’s expansion, which started in 2014.”

Now, with promotion this season, if one team from the FA WSL 2 is relegated to the FA WPL at the end of 2017/18 and the FA WPL 2017/18 champion is promoted we would have 11 teams in FA WSL 2 comes the start of the 2018/19 season. 21 teams and 20 licenses only ?

And in the meantime one team that would have been given a 2018/19 license would lose it potentially to an unlicensed team for 2018/19, if the FA WPL 2016/17 champions stays up. Now if you give a license to a team and do not honor it, you open yourself to legal action or any kind of appeal imo.

The only way for the FA WSL 2 to stay at 10 teams is to have two relegation from FA WSL 2 to the FA WPL for one promotion at the end of the 2017/18 season  or, simply to cancel that article from the FA WPL rules and have no team promoted at the end of the  2016/17 season.

Now let’s have a look at the curious situations that could arise from the fact that the license for the season 2018/19 will be distributed prior to the season 2017/18 will be played on the pitch. It obviously means that on the pitch result are irrelevant after all for 2017/18.

1a from the situation above, one the 10 FA WSL 2 team gets a 2018/19 license, but is relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season on the pitch. It looks like on the pitch result would prevail. But then why grant a license to that team, if they are not guaranteed an access to FA WSL 2? Why not wait until the end of the 2017/18 season to attribute the licenses?

1b same case a below , the FA WSL 2 team is granted a FA WSL 1 license for 2018/19 and is relegated on the pitch at the end of the 2017/18 season. What takes precedence, the on the pitch or off the pitch results ?

2 a FA WSL 2 team is not granted a licence for 2018/19 and is promoted on the pitch to FA WSL 1 . The answer is clear that team goes down to the FA WPL or any step lower in the pyramid, but that would embarrass the FA and shock the public.

3a same thing with a FA WSL 1 team not granted a licence 2018/19 wins the title or qualify for the Champions League. Again no doubt, that team would be kicked out of the FA WSL. Another embarrassment for the FA to have a Champions League side playing at level 3,4,or 5 in the pyramid. You could imagine the uproar should a League 1 side was competing in the men’s champions league.

3b same case a FA WSL1 team is granted a FA WSL 2 license and  qualify for the champions league, no problems, relegation for the team but an embarassment to have a lower division team playing in the elite european club competition.

The FA announcement leaves so many loopholes open and the timing of the Licensing choice is so wrong and they really should have done it later or renewed the licence from the 2017/18 seasons to avoid all the potential conflicts that will arise.

And I am not even talking about the transparency of the process as we still don’t know if it was fairly applied in the two previous times for the 2011 and 2014 licenses. Why the FA never published the teams ranking and the reason for giving licences to certain teams is beyond me. It only fuels the suspicion of conspiracy theories and bitterness for the teams not selected.

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FA WPL, FA WSL, FA WSL 2

The FA open the FA WSL licensing from 2018-19, a short analysis

The FA have finally announced the opening of the licensing for the FA WSL from 2018/19 and as usual it is quite surprising to read.

The first line come as a shock as :

Applications will only be open to current FA WSL clubs – with 20 licences available (10 for each division).”

Basically any  non promoted FA WPL or newly created club will have to wait for their turn, unless one of the current team decides not to try to renew their licence.

“The FA WSL clubs have made great strides in the past six years and have demonstrated a massive commitment to the women’s game. It is crucial that we build on these foundations and work together to strengthen the standard of the league, which is why we have elected to firstly open the applications to the current FA WSL clubs.

The clubs have worked tirelessly since the FA WSL was launched to establish themselves, develop players and coaches and build their fan bases and its right that we reward that level of time and investment”

You could bet there are some FA WPL teams, who are better financially and marketing wise that some FA WSL 2 teams today, and on the pitch as well, but they cannot bid for a place.

As of today and pending the promotion for Yeovil and Bristol and Doncaster’s relegation, here are the expected teams for FA WSL 1 and FA WSL 2.

FA WSL 1 (10)  : Arsenal, Birmingham, Bristol, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester, Notts County, Reading, Sunderland, Yeovil

FA WSL 2 ( 10) : Aston Villa, Brighton, Doncaster, Durham, Everton, London Bees, Millwall, Oxford, Sheffield and Watford

 

Another very surprising point is the deadline and  timing result of the bids :

“The deadline for applications is 31 March 2017. The applications will then be reviewed and approved by The FA Women’s Football Board at their meeting in mid-May 2017.”

Teams have three months to prepare their bids, which is quite short, but they are all well used to the bidding process. To me the timing is all wrong again. The FA clearly does not mind having teams who know that they will be promoted or relegated in June 18 by June 2017. Does this make sense ?

We will have potentially the same issue that happened last time round, when Doncaster Belles were demoted after Matchday 1 and with 13 games to go. How can teams get motivated, if they know that they will go down at the end of the season.

It also means no relegation/promotion on the pitch actually, as all teams will come with a  clean slate in 2018/19. You could end up with teams earning promotion/relegation on the pitch, but not rewarded because they are not strong enough off the pitch.

Although this has been in place since 2011 with off the pitch criteria having priority on football results, it still feels a bit annoying to see sporting results not rewarded. But we have known it from the start, when all teams became franchises rather than football clubs.

One good news is the introduction of relegation from the FA WSL 2 to the FA WPL, something that should have happened years ago, but was not possible because of the League  different schedules.

“The alignment of the FA WSL season with the rest of the women’s football pyramid will mean that relegation from FA WSL 2 into the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) will be introduced from the 2017-18 season.

The promotion position for the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) play-off winners will be continued.”

” we know that there is a lot of excellent work taking place across the FA WPL and clubs at all levels and we will help those clubs, to be ready on and off the pitch should they win promotion. We believe that introducing relegation from the FA WSL to FA WPL will further increase the competitiveness and quality of the league.”

 

One of the newest and biggest point is licensing is only valid for one season, a huge change from the previous situations when they were given for 3 and 5 years.

“The licences will begin for the 2018-19 season and, for the first time, will not be fixed-term. Clubs will need to continue to meet licence criteria on an annual basis.”
Teams who fail to fulfill the criteria might end up demoted to the FA WPL or any lower division as there is no explanation given yet. You would expect teams to get dropped to regional level though ?
“Should a place in the FA WSL become available outside of promotion and relegation, it will be made available through an open application process”
This is the backdoor entry, if one of the 20 FA WSL team do not meet the criteria for FA WSL 1 &2. That way a team below the FA WSL with enough money and marketing might come in straightaway.  For example, one team might fail in their bid and by June 2017, the FA could open a licence to replace one or more teams.
 Then comes the financial side of the business with the FA  pledging to give more money to the clubs :

“Following consultation with clubs, the new licences will see current club development grants replaced by partnership funding agreements. These bespoke agreements will ensure funding is directed to both support the unique need of each individual club’s development along with the league as a whole.

FA WSL 1 clubs will have access to up to £92,500, increased from the current £70,000 allocation, while FA WSL 2 clubs will have access to up to £62,500, increased from £35,000.”

This is exactly the opposite of what they were proposing back in 2010 when the FA WSL licensing opened :

finance
There some new medical criteria as well, nothing really dramatic in there, in order to improve the players fitness :

“As part of the new licence criteria, all FA WSL 1 clubs will be required to employ a full-time strength and conditioning coach, while FA WSL 2 clubs must implement daily strength and conditioning programmes for players.”

 

Let’s hope there are no big surprises come the licensing results are announced in May or we could see some very strange situations develop.
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Arsenal Ladies, FA WSL

Arsenal Ladies Development team season so far

Here is the full history of the Development  team season and the table ranking at the time. As usual another FA WSL stupid scheduling and the team is in a long chase to climb up the table.  You do wonder, if there wil be enough time to complete the full fixtures list. Expect loads of midweek games towards the end of the season.

25/09 London Bees H A-W *  0 point GD 0 4th in the League

02/10 Millwall Lioness H P-P *

09/10 Reading Women H P-P*

16/10 ?

23/10 no game due to U19 internationals

30/10 ?

06/11 Millwall Lionesses H Cup H-W** through to first round

13/11 Brighton Women A Cup  5-3 through to quarter-finals

20/11 Watford Ladies A P-P *** 0 point GD 0  9th in the League, gap to leaders 17 points

27/11 Oxford Ladies H 4-0  3 points GD +4  9th in the league, gap to leaders 14 points

* there is no information on the FA Website, but my guess is as there were five players at the U17 World Cup, the club was not able to field a full team.

** again no information but I believe Millwall had so many injuries, they could not field a full team and cup tie awarded to Arsenal

*** Postponed to due waterlogged pitch

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Arsenal Ladies

Arsenal Ladies reserves struggling at the bottom of the League table

How often do you see an Arsenal Ladies team struggling in second place from bottom and 17 points behind the leaders. This is the current predicament for the Development team and with no fault of their own.

We know the FA is an expert at  messing up the FA WSL fixtures list and have been doing so since it started in 2011, but this year’s FA WSL Development League Southern Division schedule take the biscuit. If we look at the table, the Arsenal Ladies look like a team struggling and out of the title race after doing League and Cup double in the previous season.  I mean trailing the League leaders by 17 points is huge and a current 100% defeat record is really bad. But then, you start looking at the goal difference which is 0, while the teams just above and below Arsenal are on -17 and -20 respectively and you think, there is something fishy here.

 

dev

 

So the Arsenal Ladies Reserves have lost one league game so far, not scored or conceded any goal. They are trailing the League leaders Brigton by a gigantic 17 points and runner-ups London Bees who beat them earlier this season by 12 points. They do have 6 games in hand on the League leaders and 4 games on hand on the runner-ups. It is still a huge mountain to climb to get back level with these teams and the Reserves more or less need to win every game to get back in the title race.

There are 18 League games to be played, therefore 51 points to be won. Here is the full list :

 

Nov 27 Oxford H

Dec 4 Yeovil A

Dec 11 Bristol H

Jan 29 Millwall H

Feb 12 Brighton H

Feb 19 Oxford A

Feb 26 Chelsea H

Mar 12 Yeovil H

Mar 19 Bristol A

Mar 26  London Bees A

Apr 16 Watford H

Apr 23 Chelsea A

Apr 30  Reading A

May 7 Brighton A

 

Currently with no dates :

Reading H

Millwall A

Watford A

 

That calendar is tight with the international dates and the FA WSL Development League Cup as well. You do wonder how the FA organised it to be so messy. One of the answer is the FIFA U17 WWC played in Jordan where 5 Arsenal Ladies were called up and it led to postponement and that A-W defeat at home to Bees. With a small squad as well, I could bet not all the games will be played this seasons as enough players won’t be available for certain games. let’s hope the girls can kickstart their leagues games with a win and  go far in the Cup.

 

 

 

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FA WSL, FA WSL 2

FA WSL 2 promoted teams through the years a short analysis

After two seasons of promotions from wsL 2 to wsl 1, I thought it would be a good idea to see if promoted teams do well or are struggling when they move up.

Sunderland Ladies

Season 2015  finished 4th 20 points PL 14 W6 D2 L6 24-24

They beat Liverpool, Bristol x2, Birmingham, Notts County, champions Chelsea. Bristol were relegated. The first nine games returned WLWLLWWWW and the last five games DDLLL. Sunderland struggled with injuries towards the end of the 2015 season.

No League win between the 25/07/2015 and 09/07/2016

 

Season 2016 finished 7th 10 points Pl 16 W2 D4 L10 17-41

Their two wins were against promoted team Doncaster Belles who ended up relegated.

 

Reading Women

Season 2016 finished 8th 9 pts PL16 W1 D6 L9 15-26

Their only win was against Doncaster Belles who ended up relegated. They drew against Sunderland x2, Notts County x2 ,  Birmingham x2.

Those six draws kind of kept them up as they lost on final day to the Belles, when things were already settled.

 

Doncaster Belles

Season 2016 finished 9th relegated 3 pts PL16 W1 D0 L15  8-48

15 defeats in a row before a last day win a Reading Women, too little to late. Worse attack, worse defence in the League.

 

It is quite obvious that the promoted teams have a tough time and struggle overall when moving to WSL 1. Sunderland in 2015 being the exception to the rule, this is probably due to their excellent defensive block positioned quite low on the pitch  and clinical finisher in Beth Mead, who finished the League as top scorer that season.

 

So why do those promoted teams struggle ?

If we discount the succesful Sunderland 2015 season,  in term of goals in 2016 : Doncaster 8, Reading 15, Sunderland 17. Note that Notts County scored 16 only and got 16 points while Birmingham scored 18 and got 27 points. Obviously Doncaster did not score enough goals . If we look at defences Doncaster conceded 48, Sunderland 41 and Reading 26. Notts County conceded 26 like Reading and scored only one more goals but got seven more points overall. Doncaster obviously did not have neough offensively and defensively, while Reading was in line with near mid-table teams on that respect.

 

There is a huge jump in quality between FA WSL 2 and FA WSL 1 as most of the teams are not training full-time in FA WSL 2, while it is the opposite in FA WSL 1 .

I believe only Doncaster and Reading did not have an entire squad doing full-time training with those two sides having full-time players and part-time players with a normal job activity. Reading having probably double the number of full-time players than Doncaster.

As horrible as the FAWSL  licensing criteria are ( I mean the football side is one of least important criteria), they certainly set a minimum standard for infrastructure and marketing that are needed in the top division. Unfortunately, it means selecting teams on money criteria rather than sporting criteria, which should the base criteria in any sport. What it means is Bristol and Yeovil will have to provide good enough facilities and support off the pitch to be able to compete on the pitch.

 

We know that Bristol made the change towards that improvement when they moved from their Bristol Academy brand to become Bristol City Women. That back-up from the men’s club being crucial and of course their facilities as well as training full time this season means they are prepared for when they will get back to FA WSL 1 in September.

Yeovil  will discover the FA WSL 1 and there is a very interesting interview from the chairman Stephen Allinson in Sommerset live. 

“Manchester City are full-time and what I mean by that is they’re paid full-time and train five times a week. It’s not going to be possible to do that and of course most of our girls have other jobs.

“But it is our intention that some of our players will be full-time and one of the ways I think we can be clever is if they have job as soccer coaches in colleges or community programmes, then they can effectively be down here training and teaching and we can look at a pay share arrangement that way.”

Yeovil’s success and promotion is the proof that smaller clubs can make it to the top division and hopefully will be able to stay up with a different business model than the clubs coming with the money straight from the coffers of a rich men’s team. There is nothing wrong with a men’s team giving a lot of oney and facilities to their women’s side, it does help raising the football level. Now, if all the teams had GPS and cryotherapy as an example among other facilites, that would certainly help smaller teams, along with good logistics and costs travel.

On the footballing side alone, success for Sunderland in 2015 and relative success for  Reading in 2016 were based on solid defending, being difficult to beat, the normal underdog modus operandi. Sunderland and Doncaster poor defending in 2016 with 41  and 48 goals shipped, shows that proper defending is priceless for teams trying to avoid relegation. Not many teams fighting for survival can allow themselves to play a proper expansive attacking game.

It will be a tough ask for Bristol and Yeovil to stay up next season, they will need to recruit the right quality players in key positions and the right tactics as well as a lot of work done off the pitch.

 

 

 

 

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