FA WPL, FA WSL, FA WSL 2

My reaction to the FA WSL 1 going full time professional teams only

So there it is, the FA have announced that the  FA WSL1 has now become the rich boys/girls club and therefore decided demote to FA WSL 2 all the part-time semi-professional teams.

 

Now, this is NOT the fist time that the FA has demoted a side on non sporting merit, they did it back in 2014 when the Doncaster Belles were sent to the newly formed FA WSL2 to make way for Manchester City and its big money investment. It has to be said, Manchester City have been very succesful since and set the standard for many clubs in term of investment and facilities, but it still does not make it right for the Belles to have been sent down.

 

As we all know when sporting merit disappear and a close league appear, something gets lost somewhere although it is hard to define and quantify how to call it. Some would call it the football spirit, others might call it sporting integrity.  With clubs being franchises since the FA WSL inception, you do wonder if the FA  has always wanted the FA WSL1 to become long-term a typical US style league.

 

Back in 2011, when the League started, the clubs were given a three years tenure and protection to start-up the league. Promotion was only introduced with the FA WSL2 creation in 2014. At the time, the promotion was introduced on sporting merit, pending the usual financial and marketing investment possible. Three seasons ago promotion from the FA WPL to the FA WSL was also introduced on sporting merit, also pending the usual financial and marketing criteria and this year will see the first relegation from FA WSL2 to the FA WPL. This is the usual and natural functionality in the football pyramid.

 

So far in the FA WSL history no promotion has been rejected by the FA, be it to the FA WSL1 or the FA WSL2. There were no problems on financial ground and rightly so. But this sudden change will therefore halt all chances of success story like the one from Yeovil Town Ladies. They were a combination team for many years and went up all the way to FA WSL1 on a small budget with important values like their fans bill of rights and success on the pitch based on beautiful quality attacking football.

 

Now for the FA to close the door for that kind of team or any semi-professional team or even amateur, because they are not rich enough and don’t have enough facilities is really a kick in the teeth to the football traditional values. To me this is such a sad news really. Gone is the idea that a team can go up the leagues through hard work and football results. It originally happened when the FA WSL started in 2011 and the closed League system was not well received by many fans as it was a clear break from the way the football pyramid had been built and organized.

 

Let me be clear on one point, I think there is nothing wrong with the FA trying to have a full-time professional FA WSL1, this is what is needed at medium or long-term. But there are multiple ways to achieve this and natural organic natural growth for the teams in WSL1 would have made more sense to me.

 

We are now talking about a minimum investment needed for all the WSL1 teams, fine, it does make sense. Then what happens, if teams run out of cash because they cannot sustain the life style? Will the FA put in place more rigorous controls than the ones that allowed Notts County Ladies to fold?  Introducing the single unique business model to FA WSL1  in which is women’s teams supported by a parent’s men club is a dangerous game, as history can give us countless examples of teams going under as soon as the men’s team money vanished.

 

I mean how many self sustainable women’s teams exist without the men’s team money ? Not many because they simply cannot go in the red every year and accumulate debts like the Sunderland men’s team can do. To close the door to those teams on the basis that they can’t find a rich owner or a rich parent club, is just wrong.

I was talking earlier about copying the close door US League style, but it was also mentioned among fans that the FA would also love the FA WSL to have the same brand recognition as the Premier League. What better way to have the big Premier League clubs in the FA WSL and therefore the constant  lobbying of Manchester United to join the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in the FA WSL1.

 

Now that new FA WSL1 will be launched, the FA can say “sayonara” to the likes of  Yeovil and Sunderland,( unless they come up with a pro team business plan), “you can go to the FA WSL2 as you are not rich enough “and then can promote anyone with bigger pockets from the  FA WSL2 or even below providing  that they can come with the right financial package.

 

You do wonder how many teams will be able to buy-in their way into that new FA WSL1 and how will the left-out teams will be redistributed. At the moment, there are 10 teams per WSL Division. I would be delighted to see  at least 8 full-time teams with sufficient financial means. But as we have known for years,  a league with only 8 teams is rubbish for scheduling, but that’s a problem for another day. I am genuinely curious to see how many teams will be able to sustain the investment level required by the FA. I am quite amazed the FA are looking at up to 14 teams overall to go full time professional.

So as the FA introduces another change to women’s football, we can say bye-bye for sure to the romantic idea of teams going through the leagues on sporting merit and hello to the big money boys and girls teams at the highest level.  Let’s hope no elite team will collapse in the near future and those left behind also suffer no consequences from their demotion.

I put a twitter poll asking about the changes implementing by the FA and although it is an extremely small sample, which means statistically it does not really reflect the fans’ view overall, the results are quite clear

23% approval rate is quite low, 54% rejecting the idea and and 23% thinking it is not even a serious idea to do so.

 

Obviously the FA are looking at what can improve the England team and the overall women’s football level in the country and they know what they are doing with the Gameplan for growth, but sometimes you do wonder if they act on the best interest for the clubs.

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FA WSL 2, Transfers

FA WSL 2 Summer Transfer window

The Summer transfer windows opens on the 23rd of June and will close on the 14th of September

 

This week’s transfers

Confirmed transfers

Extended contracts

Possible deals

 

 

Doncaster Belles

In : Jules Draycott ( Sheffield), Chloe Peplow ( Birmingham – loan), Sophie Bradley

Out : Bethan Davies ( loan –  Guiseley Vixens), Nicola Hobbs ( London Bees), Kasia Lipka ( Sunderland), Courtney Sweetman-Kirk ( Everton)

 

Durham WFC

In : Abbi Cottam, Kathryn Hill, Zoe Ness, Nicola Worthington ( University of Bridgeport), Ellis Dalgliesh ( Celtic Women)

Out : Rachel Laws ( Sunderland), Tyler Dodds ( Sunderland)

 

Sheffield FC

In : Melissa Johnson ( Derby County), Danielle Gibbons ( Liverpool)

Out : Billie Murphy,Danielle Lea ( Fylde Ladies FC) , Natasha Flint ( Fylde Ladies FC) , Lagan Makin ( Fylde Ladies FC), Olivia Fuller  ( Fylde Ladies FC), Jules Draycott ( Doncaster Belles), Emma Lipman ( ASM Verona)

 

London Bees

In : Luke Swindlehurst ( manager), Rosie Lane ( Oxford), Evie Clarke, Rosie Kmita, Nicola Hobbs ( Doncaster), Lucy Loomes, Chelsea Weston, Destiny Toussaint ( Aston Villa), Ocean Rolandsen, Lisa Miliken, Bolu Fisher ( Stevenage FC)

Out : Mollie Burgess ( MK Dons), Ellie Perkins ( Arsenal), Rosie Kmita ( West Ham Ladies)

 

Aston Villa

In : Dave Stevens ( head coach), Kerri Welsh, Beth Merrick, Katie Wilkinson, Chloe Jones, Sian Rogers ( Arsenal)

Out : Mollie Rouse ( Louisville Cardinals), Grace Smith ( West Virginia Mountainers), Joe Hunt ( manager), Lucy Porter ( Hofstra), Lucy Shepherd ( Hofstra), Claire Skinner ( Oxford United), Destiny Toussaint ( London Bees), Maddy Cusack ( Birmingham)

 

Millwall Lionesses

In :  Rianna Dean (Arsenal), Ella Rutherford ( 2 years), Megan Alexander ( Bristol), Charlotte Devlin (Arsenal), Victoria Wotton ( Watford), Leighanne Robe, Leanne Cowan, Megan Wynne, Bonnie Horwood, Leigh Nicol, Billie Brooks, Georgie Giddings, Ellie Mason

Out : Ashley Cheatley ( Ashford), Sarah Kempson

 

Oxford United

In : Madi Lee, Lauren Haynes, Riva Casley, Ellie Noble, Danielle Carlton ( Spurs Ladies), Ella Franklin-Fraiture, Lauren Allison, Kayleigh Hines ( Reading), Claire Skinner ( Aston Villa), Demi Lambourne, Evie Gane, Charlie Deeley, Emily Allen ( Cardiff), Steph Williams ( Yeovil), Hannah Short ( Yeovil), Chloe Chivers ( Cardiff), Florence Fyfe ( Arsenal Dev), Corinne Yorston ( Bristol – loan) 

Out : Gabby Ravenscroft ( Arsenal Ladies), Rosie Lane ( London Bees), Uni Umotong ( Brighton)

 

Watford Ladies

In : Fran Kitching ( Chelsea Ladies – loan), Sarah Jones ( Crystal Palace), Helen Ward (Yeovil), Kylie McCarthy ( Reading), Laura May-Walkley ( London Bees), Bianca Bragg ( Notts County), Ellie Sargeant ( WBA)

Out : Lauren Jordinson, Lucy Gillett ( Brighton), Victoria Wotton ( Millwall)

 

Brighton Women

In : Danielle Buet ( unattached), Uni Umotong ( Oxford), Hope Powell ( manager), Fern Whelan ( Everton), Aileen Whelan ( Everton), Lucy Gillett ( Watford)

Out :  Hollie Olding ( University of Kentucky), Alessia Russo ( UNC),  Amy Taylor (Lewes Ladies), Lisa Fulgence ( Lewes Ladies), Charlotte Young, Emma Byrne (retirement), Charley Boswell, Faye Baker

 

Spurs Ladies

In : Sarah Wiltshire ( Yeovil), Ashley Neville ( Coventry), Lauren Pickett, Hannah McKenzie ( Reading), Coral Haines ( Birmingham – loan)

Out : Megen Lynch ( Crystal Palace), Nikita Whinnett ( Crystal Palace), Kelley Blanchflower ( Cambridge)

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FA WSL, FA WSL 2, Transfers

FA WSL transfer window deadline day deals

There should be many deadline day deals with Oxford, Millwall, Everton expected to unveil new signings  today. Kasia Lipka, Laura Bassett and Hayley Ladd also are currently without clubs.

The tweets are already coming in this morning :

07:50

10:00

11:25

Bristol City announce they extended Frankie Brown’s contract. Quite curious as the player was listed as unattached during the 2017 Euros.

 

12:00

Chloe Peplow : Birmingham to Doncaster on loan

 

12: 17

Lucy Gillett :  Watford to Brighton

12: 25

Chloe Chivers : Cardiff City to Oxford

 

13:59

Lorca Van de Putte Kristianstad DFF to Bristol

14:00

Bethany England : Chelsea to Liverpool on loan

14:00

Maddy Cusack : Aston Villa to Birmingham

15:01

Florence Fyfe : Arsenal Women dev to Oxford

 

16:30

Coral Haines Birmingham to Spurs, loan

16:30

Courtney Sweetman-Kirk  Doncaster to Everton

 

17:20

 

Viki Wotton Watford to Millwall

Sunderland confirmed 4 new signings

Bristol announced Georgia Evans leaving them

 

 

Birmingham extended Charlie Welling’s contract

Oxford signed Corinne Yorston on loan

 

 

Ocean Rolandsen sign a two year contracts with Bees

and they also signed a midfielder Lisa Miliken

 

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FA WSL, FA WSL 2, International football

All the FA WSL players selected for the Euro 2017 and their squad numbers

The tournament is starting in ten days and UEFA has published the teams’ squad lists. Here are all the FA WSL 1&2  players that will be involved in the Netherlands

 

FA WSL 1

 

Arsenal (9)

Jordan Nobbs, England #7

Alexandra Scott, England #22

Jodie Taylor, England #9

Fara Williams, England #10

Dominique Janssen, Netherlands #20

Anna Miedema, Netherlands #9

Danielle Van De Donk, Netherlands #10

Sari Van Veenendaal, Netherlands #1

Lisa Evans, Scotland #11

 

Birmingham (2)

Ellen White, England #10

Andrine Hegerberg, Norway #8

 

 

Bristol (2)

Yana Daniels, Belgium #15

Chloe Arthur, Scotland #23

 

Chelsea (8)

Millie Bright, England #16

Karen Carney, England #14

Francesca Kirby, England #23

Carly Telford, England #21

Maren Mjelde, Norway #6

Erin Cuthbert, Scotland #8

Hedvig Lindhal, Sweden#1

Ramona Bachmann, Switzerland #10

 

Liverpool (5)

Siobhan Chamberlain, England #13

Alex Greenwood, England #20

Casey Stoney, England #12

Shanice Van De Sanden, Netherlands #7

Caroline Weir, Scotland #9

 

 

Manchester City (11)

Mie Jans, Danemark #18

Karen Bardsley, England #1

Lucia Bronze, England #2

Isobel Christiansen, England #8

Toni Duggan*, England #19

Stephanie Houghton, England #5

Nikita Parris, England #17

Jill Scott, England #4

Demi Stokes, England #3

Jane Ross, Scotland #19

Kosovare Asllani, Sweden #9

 

Reading (3)

Jade Moore, England #11

Josanne Potter, England #6

Mandy Van Den Berg, Netherlands #4

 

FA WSL 2

 

Doncaster Belles (1)

Christie Murray, Scotland #16

 

* Toni Duggan has signed for FC Barcelona but was registered by the FA as a Manchester City player.

Frankie Fantom Brown is listed as unattached although Bristol City have not mentioned she has left the club yet.

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FA WPL, FA WSL, FA WSL 2

FA WSL licence application for 2018/19 extended

The news came about a month ago following the demise of Notts County Ladies and the restructure of the WSL1 and WSL2 with Everton promoted to make it ten teams in each division. But as usual questions remain as there are some grey areas in the announcement.

The most curious point is actually when the FA made the original announcement back in December 2016   they actually opened for 20 WSL teams licences available, which did  not make sense at the time as the FA WPL was going to get promoted for the 2017/18 season.  So if Notts had not folded , there would have been 21 teams including newly promoted Spurs fighting for 20 licences.

“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.”

It is great to see relegation introduced and it will mean more pressure for teams at the bottom of the FA WSL2.

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

“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.”

This is a huge change and quite a disruptive one as team can lose their licence and we do not know where they would end up if they lose theirs. You also have to question what will happen to promotion relegation as well as teams could be promoted/relegated off the pitch, while the on the pitch results are different.

“Should a place in the FA WSL become available outside of promotion and relegation, it will be made available through an open application process.”

We all know that there is media pressure for United to get a women’s team but Southampton who now have an RTC and a u20 team are in better position to grab a licence if there is an opening.

Coming back to the point in bold, the application have been extended to a deadline on the 9th of october
“Under the revised schedule, recommendations will be made to and assessed by the FA Women’s Football Board by end of December 2017. “

“The constitution of clubs within the competition will be confirmed at the FA WSL AGM in June 2018. Licences will begin from the 2018-19 season.”

So basically by January 2018, the teams will already know where if they  will play FA WSL1, FA WSL2 or if they will lose their licence for the 2018/19 season. We are talking here FIVE months before the end of the 2017/18 season.

And then we get told there is promotion relegation between FA WSL 1 – FA WSL 2 and  FA WSL 2- FAWPL. Now, it is does not make sense to me at all, does it means the FA will actually have promotion relegation off the pitch as well as promotion relegation on the pitch.

Remember prior to the 2014 season Doncaster Belles were relegated off the pitch one game into their season and went to FA WSL 2, while newcomer Manchester City Ladies went straight to FA WSL1. And to be fair, considering City’s investment for their women’s football team, it was with hindsight the right decision.

So far example, what if the team with the smallest FA WSL 1 budget finishes in ninth place or higher and  is actually outbid by one team from the FA WSL 2 that subsequently replace them for the 2018/19 season when licence are delivered.

Does it mean that the team that finished bottom of the FA WSL 1 is not relegated and the team that finished top of the FA WSL 2 is not promoted, or does it mean that we would see a double promotion relegation?

And because licences are now offered for one season only and need to be renewed every season, we will get the same scenario every season and we don’t know if off the pitch results takes priority over on the pitch results.

At the end of the day, if a team is not allowed to compete in FA WSL1 because of lack of money, infrastructure or else, but is promoted or staying up in the division, you have to wonder what the FA will decided to do and it is an incredibly grey area.

As previously mentioned the Belles were demoted one game into their season and the FA got lucky that they finished bottom of the FA WSL 1 that year and it looked like a normal relegation rather than a demotion to the general public.

 

I intend to ask the FA and see what the answer they come up with as the impact of those decisions is important in term of fairness of the competition.

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