Tag Archives: FA

What challenges lie ahead for Women’s Sports in the UK?

As the world of sport gradually starts getting back to us seeing action on the pitch, as opposed to action off it, spare a thought for the vast majority of women’s sports that are still not taking place at this present moment in time.

The Government and major governing bodies have been warned that a decade of progress in women’s sports are at risk if they do not urgently address a potential summer of no competitions.

While Premier League football will return in the middle of next month and men’s rugby and cricket currently finalising plans to return, women’s football, rugby and netball seasons have all been cancelled.

Women’s cricketers and hockey players are still in limbo, waiting to see what is left of international schedules, while there has been no women’s team sport since March 14th with no immediate prospect of a return.

By contrast, in Germany the Women’s Bundesliga resumed on Friday and there are plans in place in the USA for women’s football to restart in June.

There has been no elite women’s football in England for more than 90 days. This could extend to as much as six months pending a decision on whether this seasons Women’s Champions League and FA Cup can be concluded.

With record domestic crowds in the past few seasons and a major sponsorship deal with Barclays, is now unfortunately threatening to end with a whimper.

The new WSL season is provisionally set to begin in September, but this could well not happen due to the present pandemic.

Although the majority of WSL clubs have endorsed the decision by the FA to cancel the league, the general feeling remains that the governing body and the Premier League could have done more to ensure the return of women’s football. It certainly seems that the men’s version of the game is clearly taken priority at the moment. Which is a pity as the momentum in women’s sport overall has been on an all-time high.

It has been a dismal year for women’s rugby. The Premier 15’s had to be paused in January for the Six Nations, with the game struggling before the pandemic hit. When the coronavirus really hit the country, all Premier 15’s activity was suspended.

In cricket it has been a case of the England Men’s International game taking priority over the ladies, with £280 million on the line this is fully understandable. This in mind, couldn’t the ECB set aside something for the women’s game to continue?

Netball is certainly the sport set to lose the most momentum by virtually having its whole season cancelled.

This time last year, the country was preparing to host the World Cup in Liverpool, on the back of the success of the England netball team in the 2018 Commonwealth title in Australia, which sent participation levels in grass roots of the sport to record highs.

In Hockey. GB’s long-time partner International Bank Investic declined to renew its deal, which means that after August the national teams and the domestic league will have no sponsor.

Summing up, as men’s sport clamours to restart, it seems that the women’s teams are being abandoned, which isn’t good for the sport with little finances coming into the various sports.  Subsequently, it could mean that some sports may have to go back to their amateur roots once again.

Article written by Peter Moore

Manchester United warn of long-term economic effect of COVID-19 virus

On this day 21 years ago, ITV’s Clive Tyldesley uttered those famous words in Barcelona:

“Sheringham and Solskjaer has won it!  Manchester United have won it.”

Subsequently, The Red Devils lifted the Champions League for only the second time in their history, in so doing they completed the famous 1999 treble consisting of the Premier League, FA Cup and the prestigious European Trophy.

Fast-forward to the here and now, Manchester United has forecast that annual revenue would fall for the first time in five years after its failure to qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United say the coronavirus pandemic has cost them an initial £28 million – and expect the final figure to be far higher.

Manchester United’s Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said:

“Our third-quarter results reflect a partial impact that the pandemic has had on the club but the greater impact will be in the current quarter and likely beyond.

“These are unprecedented times and we must recognise that this crisis will not disappear overnight.

“However, our club is built on a solid foundation. We remain firmly optimistic about the long-term prospects for the club once we have worked our way through what is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and testing periods in the 142-year history of Manchester United.”

United, however, do have history of coming back from adverse situations, most notably the Munich air disaster that affected Sir Matt Busby’s ‘Busby Babes’ in 1958.

One of the clubs best ever a player at the time, Duncan Edwards, was among them.  That year they would go onto to some how make the FA Cup final and just 12 years after that fatal incident they would lift their first European Trophy in 1968.

Chief financial officer, Cliff Baty, estimated the lockdown cost United £23 million in the final two weeks of March because of the postponement of one Premier League away fixture (worth four million pounds at Tottenham Hotspur), a home Europa League last-16 tie against LASK (Linzer Athletik- Sport- Klub), the FA Cup quarter-final at Norwich City, broadcasting reductions plus the closure of the Old Trafford megastore, Red Cafe and United Events.

The managing director, Richard Arnold, said:

“The economic ramifications from this global pandemic will continue to resonate for years to come, but we remain optimistic about the long-term outlook for the sponsorship business and our ability to remain a leader within the market.”

United are also waiting on the Football Association to make some crucial decisions that could have a big impact on their interim future.

The Football Association will remain determined to get the FA Cup, which is up to the quarter-final stage, played.

Wembley Way is quiet due to the current crisis. If the FA Cup does get back up and running this season then Wembley Way will still be silent when the final is played. The idea of football returning without fans and an empty stadium will be a quite a different feeling for the players.

That might be as good a reason as any to cancel it. Will winning the FA Cup when no fans are there to celebrate really feel like winning the FA Cup at all?

For now United’s teams are waiting to hear how their chances of lifting a trophy this season are going to be affected by football’s new terrain.

Article written by Subeer Suri

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.

Women’s Football Weekend

Following a record-breaking attendance of 77,768 for the England international match against Germany last weekend, The FA is set to launch the first ever Women’s Football Weekend this Sunday 17thNovember.

All 12 teams will be in action in the Women’s Super League with three of the six ties being played at Premier League grounds and another at a well- known and highly respected Championship stadium.

The weekend begins at 12:30pm with a repeat of last season’s FA Cup final as Manchester City will be looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season against a strong Arsenal team last time out. They host West Ham at their Academy Stadium.

Brighton’s Amex Stadium will see the Seagulls welcome fellow strugglers Birmingham City, while Reading entertain Bristol City at the Madejski, both at 2pm.

The other 2pm kick-off sees league leaders Chelsea against newly promoted Manchester United at the Blues Cherry Red Record Stadium, in what promises to be an entertaining match between two of the divisions in-form sides.

The final two matches feature two of the most enthralling Derbies in English football. The Merseyside Derby will take place in front of the Kop at Anfield between Liverpool and Everton. The North London Derby meanwhile is set to take place at The Tottenham Hotspur stadium as Tottenham Hotspur host Arsenal.

Tickets at Anfield are set to cost just £5 for adults while tickets to Tottenham vs Arsenal priced slightly more at £6.50, both matches start from 3pm.

FA Cup Final Rematch

Both Manchester City and West Ham United will be looking to get back to winning ways. West Ham suffered a 3-1 defeat against table topping Chelsea, while Manchester City lost for the first time in the Super League away at defending champions Arsenal, 1-0.

Nick Cushing’s Manchester City side completed the domestic cup double against Matt Beard’s West Ham team the last time these two sides met back in May of this year, winning 3-0.

City also completed the league double over the Hammers last season that included a  7-1 victory at the Academy Stadium.

The Hammers will need to watch out for striker Pauline Bremer.  The German international so far has eight goals in nine games this season for City.

Match Prediction: Manchester City 4-1 West Ham United

Cannot see anything other than a comfortable Manchester City home win in this one.

Amex and Madejski Stadiums host Women Super League football

Hope Powell’s Brighton side host Birmingham City.  The Seagulls are still waiting for their first win in the Super League this season having lost 2-0 away at Everton last time out. Birmingham however gained their first win of the season, a 2-0 home win against Liverpool.

The South Coast club will very much be looking a repeat of last season’s 2-1 score line.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Birmingham City

The matches last season between the sides were close and I can see both teams cancelling each other out this time around.

Reading has had somewhat of a mixed start to this season so far.

The Royals have managed six points from their opening five matches; they are coming off a 2-0 loss against newly promoted Manchester United.  Bristol City meanwhile is one of three sides still without a win in the Super League, they were only narrowly beaten 2-1 against Tottenham in their last game.

Reading won both league matches against the West Midlands club last season; this included a comprehensive 3-0 home win.

Prediction: Reading 2-0 Bristol City

Predict that it will be relatively comfortable win for The Royals.

Battle of two in-form teams

The League leaders Chelsea host Casey Stoney’s Manchester United at the Cherry Red Record Stadium. Both of these sides have won their last four matches in all competitions.

Emma Hayes’ Chelsea team remain the only unbeaten Super League side, while the only two defeats that Manchester United have received were against last season’s top two sides, Arsenal and local rivals Manchester City.

This Sunday’s match will mark the first ever meeting between the two teams.

 The Red Devils will need to keep talented England international Beth England quiet. The Blues striker has two goals and one assist so far this campaign and she recently scored in England’s 3-2 win against the Czech Republic.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Manchester United

Predicting that the league leaders will maintain their unbeaten record.

Merseyside Derby in front of The Kop

Liverpool will be hoping that hosting the first ever Women Super League fixture at Anfield will inspire the team to their first win of the season against fierce rivals Everton.

The Reds won this fixture 3-1 in the last campaign and will be looking for more of the same this time around.

In complete contrast to their Merseyside rivals, Everton have enjoyed a strong start and are currently fifth in the table with three wins from their five matches so far.

Liverpool will have to stop England striker Chloe Kelly.  She is currently the division’s leading scorer with four goals.

Prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Everton

I predict that Chloe Kelly will prove the difference between the two teams in this one.

First ever WSL North London Derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Newly promoted Tottenham Hotspur will take on Joe Montemurro’s Arsenal in their first ever Women Super League match.

Both sides won their last matches and will be looking to build on those results. Arsenal in particular will be looking to keep pace with title rivals Chelsea.

Tottenham will have to look out for prolific Dutch striker Danielle van de Donk. She is currently the Gunners top goal scorer in the Super League with three goals.

Prediction: Tottenham 1-3 Arsenal

Can see Arsenal coming out on top in this one. The Gunners attackers are in good form with the likes of Beth Mead and Vivianne Miedema as well as the previously mentioned van de Donk.

Fixture list: Sunday 17th November

Manchester City vs West Ham United (Kick-off 12:30pm)

 Reading vs Bristol City (2pm)

 Chelsea vs Manchester United (2pm)

 Brighton & Hove Albion vs Birmingham City (2pm)

 Tottenham Hotspur vs Arsenal (3pm) –  Live on BT Sport

 Liverpool vs Everton (3pm)

International Women’s Day: the rise of the women’s game

With the recent success of England’s Lionesses in the SheBelieves Cup, the future of Women’s football looks bright. On International Women’s Day (8th March 2019) we reflect on how the game has grown and the future of the game on a global scale.

The women’s game has been kicking around for longer than most know, with the first game being played in 1895 before the commencement of the FA ban; preventing women from playing on any football league grounds in 1921. This didn’t stop the popularity increasing, and before long the Women’s Football Association (WFA) of 1969 was formed with 44 newly organised clubs. The prevalence of the game has only increased, with the recent restructuring of the Women’s Soccer League.

The recent changes saw 11 teams including the likes of Manchester City Women, Chelsea Women and Yeovil Town Ladies FC become professional with clear academy pathways and set contracted hours for all players – something that became compulsory to obtain an FA License. Katie Brazier, head of the FA’s women’s leagues and competitions expressed how the “changes will continue the journey to transform key elements of the women’s game” and will “provide an elite performance environment that will produce more and better players, increase the interest and excitement via a more competitive league and attract a greater number of fans” – a crucial component of professional football needed to elevate the women’s game.

Phil Neville, head coach of the England Women’s Team has recently spoken out following the Lionesses 3-0 success over Japan in the SheBelieves Cup. He believes “the future for English women’s football is absolutely amazing” owing to the emphasis on youth pathways and success at recent competitions (2019 SheBelieves Cup; U20s finishing 3rd in the 2018 World Cup). Alongside the new professionalism in the Women’s leagues, Neville now considers there are “8-10 world-class players in the women’s senior team”. With the upcoming World Cup this summer and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics looming, is there any stopping the Lionesses in their bid to become the best team in the world?

Do you think the Lionesses can win the 2019 Women’s World Cup?