In a surprising move Sunderland have decided to revert to their previous part-time business model and leave the mixed full time and part-time model they used to run.
The announcement made on the official website is intriguing.
“After three years of operating a structure consisting of both full and part-time players, Sunderland AFC Ladies is to revert to its previously successful part-time model.
Over recent months, and after significant reviewing and analysis, it has become apparent that having a mix of full-time and part-time players was not working as effectively as the club, and indeed the players, had envisaged.”
Now I was under the impression that Sunderland was on part-time only in FA WSL2 and went full time when they managed to get promotion. I actually thought nearly all their players were full-time last season, like most of the teams unlike Reading and Doncaster who also had a mix of full time and part time players.
Are Sunderland are going back to their old WPL structure ? There comes the alarm bells. They cannot really compete in WSL 1 with a WPL structure and budget ? Does it means they are likely to lose their licence for WSL 1 and will go WSL 2 or will they have enought budget to even stay in WSL 2 ? As per the regulations, you have to match up what the FA gives you and it will be £92,500 for WSL 1 and £62,500 for WSL 2.
This is definitely worrying on the business side of the things and on the football side, the two teams that struggled hard last season were Doncaster and Reading who did not have total full time professional football . Sunderland did also struggle and it is no surprise that those three teams with a mixed structure ended up fighting for relegation.
As it looks like the parent team cutting the funding, it is another reminder that not every men’s team has the money or the willingness to support their women side with big money like Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City do.
When you see the debt level is way above £100M at Sunderland, it is no surprise they don’t want to spend too much money on the Ladies team. Someone is not really good on the business side to accumulate such level of debts. They could sell Jermaine Defoe and use part of fee for the Ladies team.
This is clearly a bad news for the League as a whole. While the FA is trying to push the clubs to go forward, Sunderland takes a few steps backward. With the licence renewal coming soon, you really wonder if more clubs are at risk. The FA have opened a backdoor for new entrants, should one team or more does not get its licence renewed. We will see if that case happens very soon. I thought some WSL2 clubs were at risk but to have a WSL 1 team struggling for money is bad.