Tag Archives: Emma Hayes

The Football Association announces opening two rounds of fixtures for WSL 2020-21 season

The FA have confirmed that defending champions Chelsea FC will begin their title defence away at Casey Stoney’s Manchester United side on the 6 September.

The season will however begin behind closed doors until it is safe for fans to return and the full fixture list will subsequently be released in early September.

Fans will, however, be able to watch matches live via the online FA Player streaming platform.

The Blues were awarded the title on a point’s per game basis after the season’s remaining matches were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Subsequently, this saw the West London club awarded the title ahead of their rivals, Manchester City.

Emma Hayes team played The Red Devils twice last season coming away with two 1-0 victories, the last win came courtesy of a Maren Mjelde goal in the Continental League Cup Semi Final encounter back in January of this year.

Chelsea women have already had a successful transfer window to date as 2019/20 player of the year, Beth England has already committed to the club by signing a new long-term contract.

While the likes of England international centre-half Millie Bright and Scotland’s Erin Cuthbert have also pledged their futures to the West London side.

Manchester City meanwhile begin their first full season under their new manager, Gareth Taylor and are away at newly promoted side Aston Villa, who are playing in the top flight of women’s football for the first time in their history.

Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal, who are looking to reclaim the WSL crown from their London rivals, start their campaign at home to Reading.  Elsewhere, Hope Powell’s Brighton team host Birmingham City, who narrowly avoided relegation last season.

While rounding off the opening series of matches is a London Derby between Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United and West Midlands side Bristol City play Everton.

Opening two rounds of WSL fixtures

6 September 

Arsenal v Reading
Aston Villa v Manchester City
Brighton and Hove Albion v Birmingham City
Bristol City v Everton
Manchester United v Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United

13 September 

Chelsea v Bristol City
Birmingham City v Manchester United
Everton v Tottenham Hotspur
Manchester City v Brighton & Hove Albion
Reading v Aston Villa
West Ham United v Arsenal

Chelsea’s Emma Hayes and Beth England honoured with FA WSL awards

After the coronavirus pandemic ended the 2019-20 FA WSL season, with Chelsea winning the league, manager Emma Hayes and star player Beth England were named the Barclays FA WSL Manager and Player of the Year respectively.

 The winners were announced via a virtual award show presented by Barclays Football Ambassadors and football legends/hosts, Kelly Smith and Ian Wright.

Although Chelsea were behind Manchester City by one point, they were able to win the league based on points-per-game. In 15 games this season, The Blues went undefeated with a record of 12-3-0.

Along with winning the league, their glorious campaign included winning the Continental Tyres League Cup in February against cross-city rivals Arsenal.

Hayes, who has been at the helm for the South-London side since 2012, defeated Manchester City’s Nick Cushing, Everton’s Willie Kirk, Karen Hill and Juan Amoros from Tottenham Hotspur, and Casey Stoney from Manchester United. The vote was decided by her fellow WSL managers, a panel of women’s football experts, and a public vote on social media.

 

 

England, meanwhile, had a season to remember. In 15 matches, she had found the back of the net 14 times. This led her to finish second in the league in scoring, only behind Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema, who won her second consecutive Golden Boot after notching 16 goals this season.

 

 

Among the other candidates The Blues’ No. 9 and Lionesses star had to edge out were Arsenal’s Miedema, Manchester City’s Lauren Hemp, Everton’s Chloe Kelly (now at Manchester City), and teammate Guro Reiten.

It was a dominant season for The Blues, and they were honored for their hard work on the pitch, individually and as a unit.

Liverpool Women claim ‘relegation from WSL was tough pill to swallow’

Liverpool’s men and women’s football teams could not be in more contrasting situations.  On one hand you have the men side, on the brink of their first Premier League title since Kenny Dalglish’s team clinched the championship in 1989/90.

While the men’s team are certainly on the way up, the same cannot be said of the women’s side, who learned yesterday that they will relegated from the Women Super League.

Liverpool Women’s club were bottom in the WSL having only managed six points before the FA had decided this week to call the season to a halt. They were one point behind Birmingham, who had a game in hand and three points behind Bristol City.

Having chosen to use the Points Per Game system, however, the two time WSL Champions ultimately ended up with an average of 0.43 points per game, just 0.11 fewer than Birmingham.

Following the FA’s decision Liverpool Women’s Manager Vicky Jepson said:

“For me as the Manager it’s important that I reach out to the Liverpool fans and we need them more than ever to stick by our players because I have spoken to our girls today and they were extremely heartbroken by the decision and shocked as well as I am.

“It’s something we can’t control but what we can control is how we react to this outcome.  We’ve got to react in the best way possible and that is how we prepare in our pre-season and how we perform on the pitch next season.”

Aston Villa, who were six points clear of Sheffield United at the top of the Championship were subsequently declared Champions and will replace the Reds in next season’s top flight division.

At the other end of the table meanwhile Chelsea were declared league champions ahead of Manchester City, despite the Blues sitting a point behind the Manchester club they crucially had a game in hand on their title rivals before the season ended prematurely.

On being announced champions Chelsea Women Manager Emma Hayes said:

“Of course we would have preferred to play the remaining games, but players’ welfare was always our priority, and finishing the season was ultimately not possible.  We have to respect the decision of the FA, clubs and people involved in the game who have decided this was the best and fairest outcome.

“I also want to congratulate Manchester City and Arsenal on wonderful seasons.  The title-race was shaping up to be one of the best this country has ever witnessed and we look forward to competing again when WSL resumes.

“To our fans, I’m sorry we can’t celebrate with you but we will hopefully see you soon at Kingsmeadow.”

The new campaign is currently set to begin in September, however, FA Director Kelly Simmons has already had to deal with wide spread frustration that the Barclays Women Super League did not follow the example of the Frauen Bundesliga restart and the NWSL in the USA. She explained:

“The season ending early gives us the time to plan to come back bigger and better for the 2020-21 season, and we are determined to ensure we don’t lose the momentum generated before the country went into lockdown.

“The Barclays FA Women’s Super League is the only fully professional women’s league in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of how far it has come on, but we have to remember that it has only been professional for two seasons.”

Following all the momentum that women’s football has built up in this country the past few years, the agonising prospect of not having the WSL and the Championship on our screens until September means that it will be the best part of six months before the sport returns to the public eye.  Unfortunately this may inevitability mean having to build up people’s interest in the game again. 

How does the FA plan to complete the Women Super League season?

These are certainly challenging times for the sporting calendar across the board.

Particularly it seems for women’s football, this appears somewhat remarkable given its raised profile in this country over the last few years and when the FA announced the Women Super League as the first fully professional division in Europe back in 2017.

It looked as though the only way was up with the prospects of improved publicity and clearer career paths for young talent emerging through the ranks.

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown attendance records for women’s matches were rising significantly as 38,000 fans turned out at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium to see Arsenal’s 2-0 win over their North London rivals back in November of last year.

This in mind, 24/7 football decided to examine what the Football Association’s current plan is for completing the WSL season.

How many games are left?

There are 45 games of the current season still to be played and no WSL fixture has taken place since the 23 February, following an international break for the SheBelieves Cup involving England, Spain, Japan and the USA.

Current situation?

Already the tiers three to seven of the women’s football leagues in England have been declared null and void and subsequently the decision was confirmed on 9 April.  There is the prospect of the top two leagues in the Women’s game following this same line depending upon health advice given by the Government over the coming weeks.

What is the FA’s current plan?

The current plan that the Football Association is looking into is playing out the remaining fixtures all at one central venue behind closed doors with St.George’s Park, the FA’s English National football centre, currently being talked about as a possible location.

The earliest the campaign could begin however would be the weekend of the 6-7 June depending on the government’s advice and would rely on the players being able to begin training in the final week of May.

The completion date being targeted would therefore be the weekend of 18-19 July and would require each of the 12 WSL teams to play two matches per week.

It is understood that the FA would want any decisions made on the top women’s division to follow along with any similar choices made by the Premier League and the European Football governing body, UEFA.

How do the managers and players feel about this?

Manchester City and England striker Ellen White is hoping that the ‘crazy’ Super League season will be completed when the coronavirus is lifted.  White said:

“First and foremost I just want everyone to be healthy. I think everyone would love to finish the season but everyone’s health is the top priority.

“It’s been a pretty crazy season already and it’s a massive fight for who is going to win the league.”

Despite losing their manager Nick Cushing to New York City FC Manchester City found themselves a point clear ahead of their nearest rivals Chelsea. However their title rivals have a game in hand, which had set up an exciting finish until COVID-19 stopped all sport.

The Chelsea Women’s manager Emma Hayes meanwhile has said:

“When the men’s professional game resumes the WSL should consider doing that but I understand if the season does not resume and life is ultimately more important. Hopefully when the times come to lift the restrictions we can all do it in the same way.”

While the Bristol City Women’s manager Tanya Oxtoby has recently expressed concerns that some players may in fact be struggling with anxiety and depression during the COVID-19 lockdown.  Oxtoby said

“Athletes like structure, routine and to be around each other.  So I think from a mental health point of view that’s probably very difficult.

“There’s also been the added stress in terms of finances and families, those are all factors that will affect individual players a little bit differently.”

This observation can certainly be applied to all sports personnel during this time. FIFA Pro recently carried out a survey alongside Amsterdam University on both male and female footballers which showed 22% of female players and 13% of male players have reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of depression.

What next?

The Football Association is determined to complete the current season but wants it finished by no later than early August.

The FA Women’s Director Kelly Simmons, supports this by saying:

“We are determined to finish the FA WSL, Women’s Championship and the FA Cup in the most appropriate way while it is also the intention of UEFA to complete the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

“We are doing everything we can to plan for the return of football but for now safety and welfare remains are primary concern.”

One thing is however clearly apparent; this is certainly an unprecedented time for all those involved and ultimately tough decisions will need to be made about the future and growth of the women’s game in the days ahead.