Money over passion in the FA WSL restructure

Monday morning, anxious Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs and their loyal fans were left awaiting the results of the FA WSL reshuffle. The changes to the women’s football pyramid now ensure that the teams playing in Tier 1 must run a full-time structure for their players. This controversial revamp will be one to remember; among many reasons, for hurling West Ham United up two divisions into Tier 1 and labelling them as the success of the day.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the most shocking takeaway from the FA WSL restructure, as several clubs suffered heartbreak over the future of their careers.

Oxford United and Watford are two of those who have been dropped from the Super League’s top two tiers, with the boldest and surprising move forced upon Sunderland. The North East club was home to seven of the Lionesses side whilst kick-starting their careers – Bronze, Houghton, and Nobbs to name a few – proving their ability to develop talent. This emotional day surfaced anger, joy, and betrayal for fans nationwide as the news for a number of current Sunderland players broke via social media.

WSL Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 17.23.45

The 2018/19 Tiers

Tier 1:
  • Arsenal
  • Everton
  • Birmingham City
  • Liverpool
  • Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Man City
  • Bristol City
  • Reading
  • Chelsea
  • West Ham United
  • Yeovil Town
Tier 2:
  • Aston Villa
  • Lewes
  • Charlton Athletic
  • Manchester United
  • Doncaster Rovers
  • Millwall
  • Durham
  • Sheffield FC
  • Leicester City
  • Sheffield United
  • London Bees
  • Tottenham Hotspur

The imbalance of 11 teams in Tier 1 is originally three less than the FA had hoped for during the bidding process in September due to cuts to bids. Promotions are usually seen as a positive and exciting team, as is the case for West Ham United, but most can’t help but express their anger towards the rejection that the ladies are dealing with.

Southampton drop comes as another huge blow, with their application being unaccepted, for reasons that are unsure as of yet. Crystal Palace and Derby County were unsuccessful in gaining acceptance into the newly introduced second division.

With the FA Women’s Awards being hosted on Friday, I am sure that there will be plenty of discussion surrounding this debatable revamp to the women’s football pyramid. One thing that is for sure is that without funding, bids and support women’s football cannot survive and reflect equality.

WSL Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 17.26.13

Yeovil Town is a prime example of this; finishing bottom of the table has not had a direct impact on them due to their funding. Having stated their concerns early about staying up in the top tier cost them a sum of £350,000. Women’s football needs yet another restructuring to fight for equality and talent, not the power of money.

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