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Following The FA Council ratification of the decision of the FA Women's Football Board and Women's Football Conference to null and void the 2019-20 season for tiers 3 to 7 of the Women's Pyramid of Football, The FA has set out an update on those tiers ahead of the 2020-21 season.
At a recent meeting of the FA Women's Football Board concern was expressed that some leagues within the Women's Pyramid of Football may have finished the 2019-20 season significantly below the standard number of teams which, in some cases, was likely to impact upon, and compromise, their ability to run a viable competition for the 2020-21 season.
As a result, The FA sanctioned team movement where the number of teams remaining in a division was considered too low for the league programme to run effectively and may, as a result, have impacted negatively on both its participating clubs and the Women's Pyramid as a whole.
All leagues from Tier 3-6 were able to apply for additional teams, with the decision to grant club movement made based on the following numbers:
* Any 12-team division which is running at 9 or less teams
* Any 10-team division which is running at 7 or less teams
Applications to fill any vacancies were open to teams in leagues which feed directly into the division with a vacancy and were assessed on the following key criteria:
* Club Structure
* Off-field administration
* On-field playing record
Movement only took place where absolutely necessary to ensure the health of the Pyramid for the 2020-21 season. As a result, 15 clubs have been moved:
North East Regional Women's Football League Premier:
Alnwick Town LFC
Sheffield Wednesday LFC
North East Regional Women's Football League Division 1 North:
Bishop Auckland LFC
West Allotment Celtic LFC
North East Regional Women's Football League Division 1 South:
Farsley Celtic Juniors LFC
Millmoor Juniors LFC
Harrogate Town FC Ladies Development
North West Women's Regional League Division 1 South:
Runcorn Linnets FC Ladies
East Midlands Women's Regional Football League Division 1 North:
Sherwood FC Women
Grimsby Town FC Women
East Midlands Women's Regional Football League Division 1 South:
Coalville Town Ravenettes LFC
AFC Leicester Girls & Ladies FC
West Midlands Regional Women's Football League Division 1 North:
Tamworth FC Ladies
South West Regional Women's Football League Western Division:
AFC St Austell Ladies
Clubs that made an application that was unsuccessful were given 14 days to appeal the decision.
In addition, following thorough consideration, the FA Women's Football Board has made a decision to allow all playing records from the 2019-2020 season to remain in place, despite having to bring the respective campaigns to an early close. This covers player statistics, such as goals and appearances, alongside team records and allows the achievements of players and teams throughout the 2019-20 season, prior to the impact of COVID-19, to be recognised.
Preparations are now well underway for the 2020-2021 season, with more information in due course on key dates and fixtures.
Crawley Wasps LFC have refreshed their leadership team ahead of the club's 30th anniversary year, with Jack Ayles taking over as chairman.
Paul Walker stepped down at Tuesday's AGM after three years in the role, in order to focus fully on managing the first team.
Ayles, previously Wasps' head of youth, is relishing the chance to lead the third-tier club, who ended the curtailed 2019-20 season top of the FA Women's National League Southern Premier Division.
He said: "I'd like to thank Paul for his hard work as chairman over the last few years, and everything he has achieved in that role.
"Every club is facing stark challenges at this time, and we are no different. But we will work harder than ever off the pitch to deliver a sustainable future post-Covid, while retaining our ambitious long-term goals.
"I'm looking forward to working with the committee, players, parents, sponsors and all those who have helped the club to where it is now."
Simon Pavey stays as vice-chairman but has resigned as reserve team manager due to increasing work commitments, with the club taking applications for that role.
Accountant Paola Heaton and businessman Gary Ayles further bolster the experience of the club's committee. Heaton becomes treasurer, while Ayles assumes the new role of head of strategic business development.
Dave Connor is the new head of youth and Ashley Wright takes over as youth fixtures secretary from Mark Graves. Maz Graves (secretary), Alison Smith (welfare and safeguarding officer), James Laraman (commercial manager) and Mick Gainsford (training base groundsman) remain in the post.
Walker said: "It's been both a pleasure and a privilege to have been chairman for the past three years and I am very proud of the progress made both on and off the field.
"The time is now right for a planned succession and for me to concentrate on my job with the first team, continuing the journey in pursuit of our footballing ambitions.
"I have no doubt the club will be well served under Jack's leadership and that he will bring many important personal qualities to the role."
This week, The FA reviews The Gameplan for Growth's ongoing journey for England teams to achieve consistent success on the world stage.
• Build a sustainable and successful high-performance system
• Build a world-class talent pipeline
• Ready to win 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup
• Within top three countries across all age groups
The creation of the...
• Lioness Player Pathway - a clear and defined pathway through development teams to the Seniors
• England Women's Blueprint for Success across all stages of the pathway
• Women's Talent ID Strategy - helping identify the country's most talented players
Senior team achievements:
• FIFA Women's World Cup Semi-Finalists 2019
• SheBelieves Cup Winners 2019
• Olympic Qualification secured for 2021
• Highest ever FIFA world ranking - 2nd [as at March2018]
• England awarded hosting rights for UEFA EURO 2021 [now 2022]
• Lucy Bronze voted BallonD'Or runner-up 2019 and BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2018 & 2020
Development team achievements:
• WU20s FIFA World Cup bronze medalists in 2018
• Six U20 bronze medalists from 2018 in 2020 SheBelieves Cup squad
• Consistently qualifying for UEFA EURO age-group tournaments finals
• WU19s - Fifth at 2017 EURO, Sixth at 2019
• WU17s - Sixth in 2017 EURO, Fourth in 2018 & Fifth in 2019
Kay Cossington,The FA's Head of Women's Technical Development, commented: "My own coaching career started at West Ham United after many years of playing for the club. You could suggest that I fell into coaching when I helped deliver some training sessions after our manager's departure. It was at this point that my passion for coaching and performance began. I found a feeling inside me that I had never felt before, a drive to continuously improve performance and preparation.
I transferred across the Thames to become Millwall Lionesses Head Coach and Technical Director and it was here that I learnt some of my biggest lessons and enjoyed working with some exceptional people. There were difficult and challenging circumstances, but I saw first-hand the power of football and how it could change the lives of my players and the community.
Whether it was a win at the weekend, delivering football initiatives in the estates of Lewisham and Southwark, two of the most deprived London boroughs, or supporting football initiatives in Grenada, football could drive positive change.
I have been with The FA for now over 15 years, spending more than a decade coaching various England development teams and then moving into the role of Head of Women's Player Development and Talent in 2017,subsequently becoming Head of Women's Technical Development in 2018 leading our national teams and all technical aspects across the women's game.
I have been involved with The Gameplan for Growth strategy from the earliest stages, with my focus specifically on three significant creations; a clear and defined pathway through national development teams to the Seniors, an inclusive women's Talent ID Strategy and the England Women's Blueprint for Success. All have now been established with the ultimate objective to produce England players who can compete and achieve success on the world stage for our senior team.
Before the implementation phase of these three projects began, I was keen to dig deeper into the history of women's football. I wanted to learn more about the journey that the game has come on and the key pioneers who have taken the game to where it is now and had provided me with the opportunities I have today. This exercise was crucial to provide more depth and meaning to the delivery of the strategy.
As custodians of the women's game in England we felt that we needed a strong sense of identity and a deeper understanding of what we are protecting and nurturing. We needed to identify our story. This was one of those most humbling experiences in my career and has helped shape and inform the work that we now deliver across England Women's national teams, building our identity and team culture.
Respect and gratitude for the pioneers of the game underpins everything we're trying to achieve. After two years of strategic planning, our efforts began to come to fruition, as we launched the new edition of the Lioness Player Pathway and the England Women's Blueprint for Success, both working simultaneously alongside the emerging women's Talent ID Strategy. In the summer of 2018, we watched our WU20s squad perform magnificently in France at the FIFA Women's U20 World Cup to secure a bronze medal. We know that we are working from strong foundations, with talented players, and it was now time for us to take this to another level.
The Lioness Player Pathway - established with Sport England - is a supplementary programme supporting players in our development teams, with the aim of transforming potential into performance. It supports players through their journey with England from U14 to seniors and ensures appropriate opportunities are in place to help players to fulfil their potential and succeed. The needs of the player are at the very heart of the delivery, and there is an holistic approach to player development ensuring that parents, carers and coaches are integrated into the support.
The emerging women's Talent ID Strategy works alongside the Lioness Player Pathway, driving the selection and identification process for all national teams. Our teams are broken into two distinct phases of Youth Development (WU15-WU17), and Professional Development (WU18-WU21), with the Lionesses at the top of the pyramid.
Integral to the inclusiveness of the pathway has been the collaboration and partnership with the EFL Trust. The programme was initiated to provide every talented girl in England the opportunity to access and enter the Lioness Talent Pathway. Through the existing community activities of selected Club Community Organisations (CCOs) girls are identified and referred to the pathway.
In August 2019 we launched our first ever England Women's Blueprint for Success, delivered throughout all Women's National Teams. This is an invaluable piece of the jigsaw. Identifying a defined playing, coaching and operating philosophy at women's national team level is vital if players are to progress seamlessly through the pathway. Having a bespoke curriculum of learning alongside our England DNA is imperative to produce female players who can compete and win on the world stage. This document also outlines our culture and values when developing our players and has a strong connection with our identity.
This single document defines the processes, structures and support required for each age and stage of the pathway across five pillars of delivery:
• Who We Are - The identity, mentality, purpose and culture of England teams
• How We Play - The philosophy for national teams determining the England style of play and playing principles
• How We Coach & Support - The framework for a multi-disciplinary workforce to plan, implement and review our work with players and teams
• How We Operate - The way in which we work to support England Teams
• Talent Management - The talent management approach for our players and teams
The Blueprint provides clarity in each of these areas and provides a clear framework to enable us to best support our players and keep us united in our mission. The togetherness and team spirit shown through the construction of the blueprint has been exceptional. The staff feel proud and energised by what they are achieving and the legacy in which they will be a part of.
The Lioness Player Pathway and Blueprint for Success provide a clear mission statement for our workforce about what we want to achieve, and I'm delighted that it has been met with resounding commitment and passion. In the 20 years I have spent in women's football, this is the first time that we have built and created a system that is unique to the women's game and belongs to us. It is important for our work to be complimented by a strong high-performance system within the domestic game and you will hear more on that next week, when we focus on the development of the women's professional game and the Barclays FA WSL.
We're still just a year into the implementation of this work and we need to be realistic. This is a four-year project and there is still much more work to be done to drive it forward and improve, with our long-term goal of the FIFA Women's World Cup in 2023. With a team so hungry for success, I am confident that we will be reaping the rewards when the tournament arrives."
The full report and case studies can be seen on our blog site at https://wss-blog.com/gameplan-for-growth-review-england-teams/
Manchester City Football Club is delighted to announce that Jill Scott has agreed a two-year contract extension and will combine her playing role with a position as a coach at Manchester City Women.
The 33-year-old has been on the books of the Club since January 2014, having started her career with her hometown side of Sunderland before seven years with Everton, and is now regarded as one of the stalwarts of the women's game.
An integral figure for Manchester City Women ever since her arrival, the industrious and popular midfielder has made 167 appearances in all competitions so far, scoring 24 goals. She was also a vital player for City as the team secured three Continental Cups, two FA Women's Cups and one Barclays FA Women's Super League title in six years.
Her dedication to the game was recognised meanwhile in late 2019 as she was awarded an MBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List for her services to women's football.
On the international scene, Scott boasts 149 caps for England since her debut in 2006 - a statistic which makes her the current Lionesses squad's most-capped player, just 23 games behind record appearance holder Fara Williams.
Ahead of the upcoming 2020-21 Barclays FA Women's Super League season, City's No.8 has agreed a new contract with the Club - one which will see her figure as a player-coach until at least the summer of 2022.
Scott will work alongside newly appointed Manchester City Women Head Coach, Gareth Taylor, and assistant manager Alan Mahon.
Speaking about her extension and dual-role, Scott said: "It feels fantastic to have everything sorted and to know that I'm going to be at the Club for the next two years is something I'm really looking forward to.
"Although I've been named as a player-coach, I want to reiterate that I'm a player first and foremost - I still want to play for this team and achieve success.
"It's been a journey from the beginning - six years - and every year, there has been a new chapter to the story and I've enjoyed every single part of it.
"I'm so excited to continue that journey. Coaching might bring new aspects for me, but it's about working hard on the pitch and putting in the hours off it, trying to grow my knowledge of the game to help the team in any way I can."
Head Coach Taylor added: "I'm sure I speak on behalf of everybody at the Club when I say that I'm absolutely thrilled to have Jill not only sign a new contract, but also begin her professional coaching journey here at Manchester City.
"She is without doubt a true ambassador for the women's game and we are extremely fortunate to have her with us.
"She still has a lot to give out there on the pitch as a player, but alongside that, myself and our staff are really looking forward to helping her with her coaching education as much as we possibly can."
As part of their ongoing campaign with Refuge, Chelsea FC will be making a further contribution to supporting women and children experiencing domestic abuse during the current coronavirus pandemic.
The prize money for winning the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women's Super League title is being donated to the charity.
It was announced earlier this month that Chelsea had secured the WSL title, based on a points-per-game basis. Emma Hayes and her squad were unbeaten throughout the season and had defeated title rivals in head-to-head games.
The prize for winning the Super League is £100,000 and the donation to Refuge, which was agreed by Chelsea Football Club and the Chelsea FC Women's team, continues Chelsea's significant support for the charity that began in April.
Reports indicate the current Covid-19 crisis has led to an increase in domestic abuse incidents due to the periods of isolation and lockdown. UK charity Refuge, the country's largest single provider of domestic abuse services, provides specialist, confidential support to women experiencing domestic abuse. Chelsea Women are proud to have been at the forefront of promoting the club's support for Refuge.
"It's a charity that's close to the hearts and minds of the Women's team, and is very important to our owner Mr Abramovich and everyone at the club," Emma Hayes confirms. "It makes me proud our club is supporting those less fortunate in times of need.
"Up until now our involvement was about supporting the campaign publicly with a call to action but we all wanted to do more than that and if donating our prize money can ease some of the concerns and worries people have then it's the least we can do.
"It's an important message. It's a campaign that's really dear to us and the best way we can demonstrate our support further is by committing our prize money towards it and helping those in need."
Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of Refuge, said: "We are incredibly grateful to Chelsea Women. Refuge has seen a huge increase in demand to its Helpline and website services during Covid-19 which has shone a light on the thousands of women who need our support across the country right now.
"We are incredibly grateful to Chelsea Women for not only shining a light on domestic abuse, but also supporting us with a significant financial commitment - this is an incredible gesture. Every penny we raise helps Refuge to provide life-saving and life-changing specialist services.
"The Covid-19 crisis has placed a huge financial strain on domestic abuse services and the generous support of Chelsea Women will help Refuge to ensure that no woman or child is turned away from safety."
The FA Board has reached a majority decision to decide the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women's Super League and FA Women's Championship on a basic point-per-game [PPG] basis, with promotion and relegation determined on sporting merit.
As a result, The FA Board has today confirmed the decision to award the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women's Super League title to Chelsea FC Women, and to award the 2019-20 FA Women's Championship title to Aston Villa Women FC.
In addition, Chelsea FC Women and Manchester City Women FC will be nominated as the two English clubs to qualify for the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League competition, having finished in the top two places of the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women's Super League season.
The final team positions across both leagues also confirmed that Aston Villa Women FC would be promoted to the Barclays FA Women's Super League for the 2020-21 season, and that Liverpool FC Women would be relegated to the FA Women's Championship for the 2020-21 season. As the 2019-20 results were expunged between Tier 3 to Tier 7 of the women's pyramid, there will be no relegation or promotion between the FA Women's Championship and Tier 3 this season.
All decisions were made and finalised by The FA Board - and were based on the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019-20 season. The FA Board considered and analysed all of the recommendations made to them by the FA Women's Super League & FA Women's Championship Board, which were collated after full and thorough consultation process with the clubs.
Kelly Simmons, FA Director of the Women's Professional Game, said: "Firstly, I would like to thank the clubs for their ongoing collaboration and support throughout this period. They have played a crucial role in helping to shape the decision-making process, with the welfare of the players and clubs first and foremost.
"I would also like to congratulate the players, coaches and staff of Chelsea and Aston Villa. Although the 2019-20 season has been prematurely curtailed, it has been a hard-fought campaign and their success is well deserved, with the outcome based on sporting merit.
"Women's football has made huge strides in recent years, and The FA has been at the forefront of investment and support to help grow women's football at every level of the game. Our commitment to the women's game is unwavering and we will continue to work closely with the clubs to ensure we come back even stronger for the 2020-21 campaign."
The FA will now work with the clubs and stakeholders across football to plan for next season and they aim to announce the target start dates for the 2020-21 campaign soon.
The resolution of the 2019-20 Women's FA Cup, which is at the Quarter Final stage, is still under review and the FA Women's Board will meet to discuss the matter later this month. a further update on the status of the 2019-20 Women's FA Cup will be issued in due course.
The full statement by Kelly Simmons can be viewed on our new blog at https://wss-blog.com/chelsea-and-aston-villa-declared-champions/
Manchester City Football Club is delighted to announce that Gareth Taylor has agreed a three-year deal to become the new Head Coach of Manchester City Women.
The 47-year-old has led City's Under-18s for the past three seasons, having previously overseen our Under-16s.
Taylor succeeds Nick Cushing, who also started his coaching career in City's Academy before spending six trophy-laden years with Manchester City Women ahead of his recent switch to New York City FC.
A striker during his playing days, the former Wales international boasts almost 650 appearances in all competitions. Achieving successive promotions during his time at Maine Road, Taylor featured 55 times for City between 1998 and 2001, including the Club's famous Division Two Play-off Final win over Gillingham in 1999.
Hanging up his boots at Wrexham in 2011, he joined the Cityzens in a coaching capacity soon after and has remained within the City Football Group ever since, helping to develop the fledgling careers of many young players.
After five years of overseeing the Club's Under-16s, Taylor made the switch to City's Under-18s in the summer of 2017 and led the team to successive Premier League U18 Cup victories in 2019 and 2020. Upon the curtailment of the 2019/20 campaign, Taylor's team were in the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup and also sat 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League U18 North table.
Following the recent conclusion of the Barclays FA Women's Super League season, Taylor will start his new role with immediate effect and will be assisted by Alan Mahon who held the reins on a temporary basis earlier this year.
Speaking about his new role, Taylor said: "I'm absolutely delighted to have joined Manchester City Women and I'm extremely excited about the challenge ahead with a very talented group of players and staff who have enjoyed a lot of success in recent years.
"I'm really honoured to have been appointed to this role and I can't wait to get started with our preparations for another thrilling and competitive Barclays FA WSL season in 2020-21.
"I've been very fortunate to have worked with some great people within Manchester City and the Club's Academy so far, but I'm absolutely relishing my new role within City Football Group and I'll be giving everything I have to continue Manchester City's success and growth in the women's game."
Head of Women's Football Gavin Makel added: "I'm delighted to welcome Gareth into the role of Manchester City Women's Head Coach.
"Over the last few years, I have been fortunate enough to see first hand the qualities that Gareth possesses. Not only in terms of his abilities as a coach who develops individuals, but also in the way that he leads, whilst exuberating the values and ethos that we hold dear as a Club.
"I am looking forward to working with Gareth as we enter this new era for the women's team in which I am confident that we can continue to build upon the successes that we have had over the last six years.
"I would also like to add my thanks to Alan Mahon who stepped up in light of Nick's departure and who continues to be an integral part of our operation."
During May and June, the FA will review the impact of The Gameplan for Growth strategy on the women's and girls' game.
Launched in March 2017, the strategy pledged to tackle ambitious targets to double participation [by doubling the number of affiliated teams], double the game's fan base and create a high-performance system and world-class talent pipeline for England teams to achieve consistent success on the world stage. After four seasons the strategy is now concluding, and in the coming months The FA will outline its continued support for women's and girls' football with the launch of the 2020-2024 strategy.
This week reviews The Gameplan for Growth's positive impact on the recruitment and development of coaching in the women's and girls' game.
The Gameplan for Growth committed to ‘increase the number and diversity of women coaching the sport at all levels' by developing The FA's coaching structure.
• 5,180 new female coaches from 2017 to 2020
• Collaboration with Sport England to support 204 female coaches with bursaries to improve access to UEFA B, A and Pro licence qualifications
• Doubling the number of female coaches holding a UEFA A licence from 41 in 2017 to 82 in 2020
• The introduction of Coach Development Officers to provide one-to-one support - engaging with 2,487 male and female coaches working at grassroots and talent pathway level
• One to one support for 148 male and female coaches at Tiers 1-3 of the women's game and Regional Talent Clubs [RTCs] via the introduction of Women's National Coach Developers
• 34,581 coaching qualifications for female coaches from levels 1 to 5 - an 18% increase from 2017
• 333% increase in female head coaches/managers in the Barclays FA WSL and FA Women's Championship, from three in 2016/17 to 13 in 2019/20
• 67% increase in female head coaches with England's national teams, from three in 2016/17 to five in 2019/20
Audrey Cooper, The FA's Head of Women's Coach Development, commented: "My arrival at The FA from UK Sport in March 2017, coincided with the launch of The Gameplan for Growth and an ambition from my new employers to ‘increase the number and diversity of women coaching in the sport at all levels'.
"We recognised improving coaching underpins the strategy's three big goals to double participation, double the fanbase and to achieve consistent success on the world stage. Better coaching is fundamental to facilitating better player experiences at grassroots and driving higher playing standards in the pro game, thus making it a better, more technical and tactical product to watch.
"The complex challenge put simply was to attract more women into coaching, open the doors for talented female coaches to work at the highest level and provide a better support structure to nurture and develop all coaches [male and female] who were already involved in the women's and girls' game. Growing coaching capability beyond qualifications was fundamental.
"I faced similar challenges at UK Sport and Volleyball England but football's scale and numbers were far greater. Prior to joining The FA, I transitioned from Head Coach of Team GB women's indoor volleyball team at London 2012, to Technical and Talent Director at Volleyball England and then Coaching Team Lead at UK Sport, where I was responsible for the strategic design, operational planning and delivery of Olympic and Paralympic coach development programmes. A major part of my role was to know what our elite coaches were experiencing and the support they required, whilst also understanding the journey grassroots coaches were on.
"The backdrop to our work at The FA was the rapid growth in the women's game. In 2017, the top three tiers of the women's football pyramid looked very different and full-time coaching positions were few and far between. Three years have seen us transition to a professional environment with the introduction of the Barclays FA Women's Super League and increased standards and opportunities in the FA Women's Championship and FA Women's National Leagues. For the leagues and players to thrive we needed to take our coaches on a similar journey of development and increased professionalism, helping coaches consider how they want to coach, manage and lead.
"Our strategic focus was to recruit, retain, develop and deploy more coaches. However, we knew a ‘one size fits all' approach would not cater for the breadth of coaches across the whole game. The differing needs and demands on a coach at grassroots and at an elite level were considered. Their learning on and off the grass became our core philosophy.
"As a result, we have developed a range of bespoke coach support, tailoring the content and delivery specifically for coaching in the female game. For the first time, really exploring and acknowledging the similarities and differences of the women's game and how that impacts the skills, attributes and needs of the coaches and players. We have combined this activity with three other core strands; reinforcing the ‘brilliant basics' of coaching, clear signposting to qualifications, and proactively identifying and nurturing talented coaches."
AFC Fylde have announced that they have reversed their decision to disband their women's team.
It had previously been announced at the end of April that the team, which plays in the Northern Premier Division of the FA Women's National League, would fold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the team will now be carrying on in the third tier of the women's pyramid, albeit with a new manager as Conrad Prendergast will be moving to a role with the club's academy.
Therefore, assistant manager Kim Turner will step up to take charge of the team along with club captain Danielle Young. The women's team will play their home games at AFC Fylde's former home at Kellamergh Park.
At the time of the National League season being declared null and void, Fylde were placed just below midway in the Northern Premier Division table.
Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies FC, founded in 1998, who compete in the FA Women's National League Division 1 Midlands, have consolidated their formal partnership with Boldmere St Michaels FC, and as of the 2020-21 season, will be officially recognised as Boldmere St Michaels Women F.C.
At the start of the 2019-20 Season, Birmingham & West Midlands FC entered a partnership with Boldmere St Michaels FC, which saw the club change their training and home games venue from Castle Vale to the Trevor Brown Memorial Ground, home of Boldmere F.C. More importantly, the partnership granted Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies F.C with much needed additional off-pitch support, which has reinforced the clubs aspirations to become more sustainable and begin to expand.
The decision to merge Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies F.C with Boldmere St Michaels F.C., provides much needed club stability, sustainability and all-round support. Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies F.C now go from being a single entity club, to the senior women's side of a club that boasts an incredible 67 teams.
Helen Carver, who was General Manager of Birmingham & West Midlands Ladies F.C since it was established in 1998, said: "Boldmere St Michaels F.C. have a long history of positive community spirited football. We have had a fantastic season building the partnership in readiness for this name change, and its readiness to continue to progress and develop the women's and girls' football as Boldmere St Michaels F.C."
The merging of the two clubs will also see more player benefits for Boldmere St Michaels Women F.C. As of the 2020-21 season, all first team players will have ‘free subs'; use of the brand new changing facilities at Boldmere on home matchdays; free gym access at the Boldmere club house; and all their matches recorded through ‘Veo' which is newly installed at the Trevor Brown Memorial Ground, for which weekly match analysis sessions will be run from.
Alan Parsons, current President of Boldmere St Michaels FC, said: "Another string to the bow of our famous football club as we formally welcome the Boldmere St Michaels Women's team to Church Road.
"I personally played the last embers of my non-league career here at Boldmere, little realising that over thirty years later I would still be involved and active within the club. I hope that our Women have such an enjoyable time like I have had, and look forward to their presence and influence at Boldmere St Michaels F.C."
The FA Women's Super League & Women's Championship Board has today confirmed the decision to end the 2019-20 season for the Barclays FA Women's Super League and the FA Women's Championship, with immediate effect.
The Football Association has issued the following statement:
"Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the FA Women's Super League & Women's Championship Board has been in regular consultation with clubs and key stakeholders from across both leagues to identify the most suitable and appropriate way to conclude the 2019-20 season, and to give clubs and players the clarity and support they need at this time.
"Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women's game. This will also enable clubs, the FA Women's Super League & Women's Championship Board and The FA to plan, prepare and focus on next season when football returns for the 2020-21 campaign.
"Supporting the welfare of the clubs and players will continue to be our primary concern throughout this process, which also involved a robust and thorough examination of the logistical, operational and financial challenges that the game currently faces.
"Following full and thorough consultation with the clubs, the FA Women's Super League & Women's Championship Board has discussed various recommendations which will be sent to The FA Board to determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019-20 season. This will include identifying the entries for the 2020-21 UEFA Women's Champions League, which would be based on sporting merit from the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women's Super League season.
"We are not in a position to comment further until the FA Board has had sufficient time to consider all of the recommendations and options."
The Football Association has put out the following statement regarding the immediate future of the Barclays FA WSL and FA Women's Championship:
"The FA has been in regular consultation with clubs and key stakeholders from the Barclays FA Women's Super League and the FA Women's Championship throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our primary concern has always been for the welfare of the clubs and players; and working collaboratively to identify the most suitable and appropriate way to return to football.
Every possible scenario has been meticulously analysed and evaluated in order to find a solution to meet the unique demands of the women's game. This includes a detailed examination of the financial, logistical and operational challenges that we face during this pandemic.
Although we understand that it will not be possible to find a solution that will work for every club and every player, it is our duty to help support the clubs through these unprecedented times.
Following an assessment of the protocols required to return to football and feedback from clubs, which is crucial to any decision-making process, it is clear that there will be significant challenges in completing the 2019/20 season. We are continuing to consult with the clubs on the possibility of terminating the 2019/20 season and, in the event it is decided that this appears to be the only realistic way forward, to seek views on the most appropriate sporting outcome for the season. This includes identifying entries for the 2020/21 UEFA Women's Champions League, which would be based on sporting merit from the 2019/20 Barclays FA Women's Super League season.
Our overriding ambition is to give the clubs, players and stakeholders in the game the support and clarity they need during these challenging circumstances, and to help and enable women's football to continue to thrive in the future.
We are not in a position to comment further during this ongoing consultation process."
The Football Association of Wales has today announced a major domestic restructure for the women's game in Wales, which will be in place from the 2021-22 season.
Following an extensive review and consultation process with key stakeholders, a new pyramid league structure will be defined in order to provide competitive women's football appropriate to playing standards, economic means, geographical location, facilities and club structure.
Tier 1 remains a National League administered by the FAW, with the champions qualifying for the UEFA Women's Champions. The UEFA and FAW Club Licensing Regulations that were introduced for the 2020-21 season will help ensure a competitive national league of the highest standard, with all clubs working within the same framework.
Tier 2 will be regionalised with new northern and southern leagues, that will be affiliated to the FAW. These Tier 2 leagues will be administrated by independent management committees with increased support from the FAW.
The licence application process for Tier 1 and 2 will be open to all clubs in Wales for the 2021-22 season. Details of licence criteria for Tier 1 and 2 and the application process will be announced in due course.
As well as an overhaul to the top two tiers, a new U19s Development League will be introduced. Divided into a northern and southern league, they will be operated by the same independent management committees responsible for Tier 2 and shall be introduced for the 2021-22 season. An U19 Development Team will also be a mandatory condition of obtaining a Licence to participate in Tier 1.
The Area Associations will be responsible for operating Tiers 3 and 4 in the Recreational Level of the pyramid. With an aim to increase participation in the Women's game in Wales, the Recreational Level will be allowed more flexibility in the Rules and Regulations to achieve this objective.
On the major restructure to the pyramid, Lowri Roberts, the FAW's Head of Womens' and Girls' Football, said: "By introducing set criteria and providing additional support to Tier 2 leagues and clubs, it will provide a stronger platform for clubs to prepare to step into the Tier 1 and therefore create a more sustainable domestic pyramid and a more competitive national league.
"During the consultation period, it became very clear that there was a need to introduce a transitional step between U16s girls' football and senior women's football as the current structure was not supporting player retention."
This new structure encompasses the whole of the women's game in Wales.
Photo - Reigning WPWL champions Cardiff Met Women FC.
Launched in March 2017, the strategy pledged to tackle ambitious targets to double participation [by doubling the number of affiliated teams], double the game's fan base and create a high-performance system and world class talent pipeline for England teams to achieve consistent success on the world stage. After four seasons the strategy is now concluding, and The FA will outline its continued support for the sport with the launch of the women and girls' strategy in the coming months.
The results and findings are as follows:
* 3.4m women and girls playing football
* 9,251 affiliated teams, 54% increase from 2016
* 1,621 Wildcats centres established across the country an increase of 715% from 2017
* 2,000 Shooting Stars inspired by Disney programmes attended by 18,000 girls in Primary Schools
* Over 100 Girls' Football Schools Partnerships - supported by Barclays created and reaching over 6,000 schools
* 147 Just Play centres for adults introduced in 2019/20
* 88 Community Club Organisations providing opportunities for 55,800 women and girls
Louise Gear, Head of Women's Football Development at the Football Assocation, said: "After 17 years at the Youth Sport Trust, I joined The FA in November 2017 with the exciting but slightly daunting ‘double participation of the women's and girls' game' by doubling the number of affiliated teams by 2020 in my job description.
"Being sports mad, still playing netball (having played internationally for England) and having children with a relentless thirst for sport, I know the importance of participation across different age groups and the benefits that formal or informal play can bring. If it is being part of a team or an informal runaround with friends, sport is a fundamental way to enrich life.
"Change had to be sustainable, breaking down barriers to encourage new women and girls to play football, whilst retaining and valuing the thousands of existing participants. The plan we built was based around four pillars - places, programmes, people and profile.
"If more women and girls are playing the game, then they need places to play. Easy to say but much harder to execute and providing more places to experience football has been our top priority. Crucially that has been achieved by building an infrastructure of Wildcats centres for 5 to 11 year old girls and Just Play centres for adults. That infrastructure has been integral to the growth of competitive female teams, from 6,000 [the strategy's baseline] to 9,251. With the inclusion of Wildcats and Just Play centres that's over 12,500 affiliated teams, mini-soccer groups and adult recreational groups playing across the breadth of the country, fulfilling our 2020 target to ‘double participation'. The impact that they are all having on physical and mental health and wellbeing and the joy they are bringing to their communities is probably one of our proudest achievements.
"Creating innovative programmes that match women and girl's motivations to play has been a gamechanger, ensuring we have got the flexibility for football to be played for competition, fun, excellence or to learn. Wildcats has given nearly 34,000 young girls in 1,621 locations across the country the confidence to give football a go for the first time, allowing them to learn new life skills and form new friendships groups in the process. 18,000 primary school girls have enjoyed The FA Shooting Stars inspired by Disney programme over the past two years. Football with a Guardians of the Galaxy or Aladdin theme has given our sport a unique Disney twist and proved popular in the primary school playground.
"These achievements are not possible without people, so building a diverse workforce of enablers to grow the game and create female friendly environments has been vital. This year we launched the first Women and Girls Officer Programme, providing professional development to a collective of 78 specialists from CFAs, Club Community Trusts and national organisations. Over 143 community clubs have received ‘female-friendly' club training, to help build a genuinely inclusive club environment for women to enjoy. The future of women's football development is also encouraging, with 37 women's football apprentices trained over the course of The Gameplan for Growth.
"Our plan has needed us to not only build an infrastructure but to increase the profile, changing the perceptions and breaking down the historical barriers that have been detrimental to the women and girls' game. Avoiding clumsy stereotypes, we have presented the game in a way that it appeals to the female audience. We have worked to encourage the ‘see it, play it' mantra across all age groups and formats of the game. This was best demonstrated during the Lionesses' run to the FIFA Women's World Cup Semi-Finals, where women of all ages and abilities were inspired to follow in our Lionesses' footsteps and get outside and play.
"Most pleasingly to me, football for all has been a key mantra for the last three years. Using football as a tool for community integration, we have formed new partnerships with Cerebral Palsy Sport, The Wheelchair Football Association and Amnesty International UK. Alongside a unique partnership with Football Beyond Borders, which has seen BAME young role models encouraging new girls to the game.
"Attention now turns to the future, and we'll be increasing our influence in schools, colleges and universities with national partners, Youth Sport Trust, Association of Colleges and BUCS. More details will be in the newly formed women's football strategy, which will be launched at the start of the season.
"Finally, a big thank you. Thank you to the hundreds and thousands of new participants, whether you have experienced the joys of football in a weekly kickabout with friends in the park, a Saturday morning Wildcats session or with a new team. You are now on a journey which will hopefully see football become a crucial part of your life. For the thousands of participants who have remained with us, thank you for your ongoing enthusiasm and dedication. Thank you to our partners Disney, Barclays, Snickers, Nike and BT who have supported us. I reserve my biggest thank you to the women's football workforce and thousands of volunteers, without you we would be staring at empty pitches and unused kit - none of this would be possible."
Photo - Buckhurst Hill FC Lionesses
West Midlands Regional Premiership side, Stockingford A A Pavilion Ladies Football Club, is delighted to announce the appointment of Joe Hughes as Manager and Head Coach with immediate effect.
Hughes has taken over the managerial role from Dave Cartwright who had been in charge at Piv Ladies since 2016. Cartwright explained it had been a difficult and emotional decision to retire from the Club that he guided to a League Championship and Cup winning double in his first season.
Club Chairman, Dominic Prendergast, stated that the Club is thrilled to have secured the appointment of Joe Hughes. He brings both experience and a true passion to further develop our players by building their confidence, ability, tactical knowledge and awareness. Prendergast added that Joe would lead the Green Army's Player Development Programme and that he would add to the Coaching Team in due course. We wish him every success in his new role and in supporting our ambition of promoting a winning culture.
Regarding his appointment, Joe Hughes said: "I am extremely excited to be given the opportunity to become the Manager of the Green Army. I have been really impressed by the structure that the club has in place and the passion of the people working behind the scenes.
"I cannot wait to start working with the squad and helping the club to be successful on the pitch next season."
Joe Hughes formerly coached at Coventry United Ladies FC and was Manager of their reserve team from 2017-2019.
With the short term future of team sports uncertain, Stockingford A A Pavilion Ladies FC is planning for the 2020-21 to start as scheduled. Consequently, Piv Ladies, which is Nuneaton's highest placed Women's Club, invites females aged 16+ to register their interest in trying out for the team by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Scotland Men's and Women's National Teams have teamed up to make a substantial donation to NHS Charities Together to support frontline workers across Scotland and the UK.
Captains Andy Robertson and Rachel Corsie have joined forces to recognise the efforts of nurses, doctors, medical, volunteers, and support staff who are working hard to keep the nation safe throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation is made up of personal contributions and commercial appearance fees that were due to the respective squads but all players were unanimous in ensuring the money should instead be focused on supporting the efforts of NHS staff.
Andy Robertson, Scotland Men's National Team captain: "We have all been at home, taking the advice of medical advisers and watching the news that highlights the heroic efforts of our NHS. We have all been inspired by the selflessness of nurses, doctors and all healthcare workers on the frontline - it only reinforces how vital the NHS is to our country and how we must cherish and protect this institution.
"Throughout the squad we have players with friends and family members involved in the NHS, so when the idea was floated around the WhatsApp group chat, it was a no-brainer and unanimously the right thing to do. Rachel and the women's national team were having similar conversations and I am proud that we can demonstrate our solidarity with the wonderful NHS staff in Scotland and across the UK. On behalf of the men's national team, I say ‘thank you' to you all."
Rachel Corsie, Scotland Women's National Team captain added: "While I have been in lockdown across the Atlantic in Utah, and despite the essential social distancing measures in place across the world, COVID-19 has made us connect with our friends, family and team-mates. In those daily conversations back home, the heroism of the NHS is a constant theme and it should not be taken for granted.
"Like Andy and the men's team, we realised that any money that was due to us through the privilege of playing for our country would be better put together and used to help the country's fight against COVID-19 and especially to support the incredible efforts of our NHS staff at the front line and those supporting them. On behalf of the women's national team we are proud to contribute in our own small way and proud of our NHS in Scotland."
Jane Ferguson, Director of Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and Trustee of NHS Charities Together said: "NHS Charities Together is extremely grateful to the Men's and Women's National Teams for their generous donation. It makes a huge difference to NHS staff and volunteers, who are working tirelessly to save lives, to know that everyone is behind them. The donation will help NHS Charities across the country provide essential support for the health and emotional wellbeing of NHS staff, volunteers and patients during these challenging times, in ways above and beyond that which NHS funding provides. Thank you."
Wolves Women and Girls are raising invaluable funds for palliative care across Wolverhampton by taking part in a mammoth Compton, Wolverhampton to Compton, California virtual charity challenge and are calling on Wolves supporters to get behind their efforts.
Throughout May the Wolves Women's team, the development team and the FA Regional Talent Club (Under-10s to Under-16s) will be taking part in a fundraising event in aid of Compton Care, which for more than 35 years has ensured that people with incurable illnesses across the city receive the care and support they so desperately need.
During the virtual challenge the players and staff will between them be travelling the distance of 5,331 miles from Compton, Wolverhampton - the home of Compton Care and the Wolves training ground - to Compton, California, by either running, cycling, rowing or walking.
Steve Cullis, player development manager at Wolves Foundation, said: "As a club, we have a great relationship with Compton Care as is demonstrated every year through our Christmas visits, and we are huge supporters of the great work they do to provide many fantastic services throughout the community to those who need it most.
"During these unprecedented times, they need more support than ever before to help them continue to provide their first-class palliative care.
"The players themselves have expressed a direct interest in being involved in fundraising activities due to family members previously using their services or have family that will imminently be using the services. So while we're all in lockdown, we couldn't think of a better way to help than to take part in this brilliant virtual challenge."
Throughout the next 31 days the players will use Strava or their Apple devices to log their activity, which will then be sent to an official who will keep a running total of the miles completed. The challenge will be completed either within players' homes or during the one form of daily exercise currently allowed under the government's Covid-19 guidelines.
Wolves supporters can get behind the efforts of Wolves Women and Girls by donating to the vital work carried out by Compton Care by visiting https://givepenny.com/wolveswomenangirlscomptonchallenge.
Updates on how the players are getting on with the challenge throughout the month will be posted on the Wolves Women social media pages.
AFC Fylde have announced that they are to disband their women's team with immediate effect, due to the ongoing situation with the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
The club's Chief Executive Officer, Jonty Castle, has issued the following statement about the team which had been playing in the Northern Premier Division of the FA Women's National League:
"With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic across the world, I feel it is right that we offer the most transparent and clearest communication possible with regards to our current position.
I have had in-depth discussions with Chairman, David Haythornthwaite and we recognise that as a community based football club, AFC Fylde always wanted to operate a Women's team.
The Women's team, lead by manager, Conrad Prendergast has been a credit to the football club and the local area. However, due to the current and ongoing fluid situation regarding the COVID-19 virus, the Chairman has had to take the tough decision to disband the Women's team in its current format.
We have spoken with Conrad and he is aware of the plans we have put in place, and we thank him for his understanding at this difficult and uncertain time.
We wholeheartedly understand and accept this is not the news anyone wanted to give, or to receive and everyone at the club would like to offer our best wishes to all current players and staff for their future careers.
I sincerely hope that all supporters both of the men's and women's team, along with all your families, are keeping safe and well at this difficult time."
Following UEFA's decision to postpone the UEFA Women's EURO to 2022, Phil Neville has confirmed he is committed to honouring the full term of his contract with the FA, which will see him leave the role in July 2021.
The FA's director of women's football, Sue Campbell said: "In light of the impact of current global events on the sporting calendar and in the best interests of the England Women's team, both parties were in agreement that our shared priority was to ensure the Lionesses have continuity of coaching going into the home EURO and looking towards the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
"Once football returns after this difficult period, Phil will continue his work with the Lionesses on the further development of his squad. I will support him fully with that important task whilst moving forward with the crucial succession planning process.
"We will now discuss next steps with the British Olympic Association and the home nations with regard to Team GB Football and we are not in a position to make any further comment at this time."
Phil Neville said: "As a result of the changes to the proposed tournament scheduling we will now be working to plan for a revised match calendar once it is safe and appropriate to do so. I am looking forward to getting back to work with the team as soon as possible. We have a fantastic squad of players and there is plenty to work on as we look to progress as a team going into 2021."
The UEFA Executive Committee today confirmed that the postponed UEFA Women's EURO 2021 will be played in England from 6th July to 31st July 2022.
It is planned to use the same venues that were originally proposed to host the event.
Commenting on the rescheduling, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin said: "When we had to take an urgent decision on the postponement of UEFA EURO 2020, we always had the impact on UEFA Women's EURO 2021 in mind. We have carefully considered all options, with our commitment to the growth of women's football at the forefront of our thinking. By moving UEFA Women's EURO to the following year, we are ensuring that our flagship women's competition will be the only major football tournament of the summer, providing it with the spotlight it deserves."
The decision to move UEFA Women's EURO came after UEFA announced on 17 March that UEFA EURO 2020 would be postponed to 2021 following the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the duty of UEFA to protect the health of all those involved in the game, while allowing domestic leagues and European competitions to be completed. The extensive discussions leading to the move included talks with organisers of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, with whom UEFA and the English Football Association continue to work with collaboratively to ensure that 2022 provides a memorable summer of elite sport.
UEFA's chief of women's football, Nadine Kessler, said: "The core question guiding us together with the English FA was: What is best for women's football? With the Olympics now being confirmed for summer 2021, we firmly believe that moving to 2022 is in the best interests of the tournament, the players, the fans, women's football partners and everybody involved in all areas and at all levels of the game. UEFA Women's EURO is Europe's biggest women's sport event. It is also among the biggest sports events in the world, and therefore needs and deserves a platform of its own.
"This decision puts us in a position to deliver a tournament that attracts global attention, maximises media coverage and increases stadium attendances, and is therefore helping us to meet our core objective of inspiring the next generation of footballers.
"2022 also allows for further promotion and partner activation, which would have been much more difficult in what is now a crowded summer in 2021. It is a clear sign of commitment to our dedicated partners who have joined us since we decided to separate the sponsorship of women's football from men's football."
The English FA's director of women's football, Baroness Sue Campbell, said: "As a nation and at The FA, we are extremely proud to be hosting UEFA Women's EURO 2021, and are fully committed to delivering a world class experience for players, staff and fans alike as the best of the European game comes to England.
"However, the sporting calendar must adapt while the world tackles something much bigger than sport. In these unprecedented times, it should be reiterated that the health of our communities remains the absolute priority for us all.
"As a result, following discussions with UEFA, we fully support its decision to postpone UEFA Women's EURO 2021. We agree that this decision will ultimately benefit the tournament, creating its own window in the football calendar. It will also allow us all more time following this challenging period to deliver an unforgettable event befitting of a home EURO.
"We have made excellent progress in the planning of the tournament to date, and particularly want to thank our host cities and venues for their ongoing commitment and support. We are also grateful to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) for its collaboration as we sought to confirm these new dates, and look forward to working together to showcase the best of women's sport across both of our events.
"We will continue our dialogues with cities, venues and our partners over the coming months as we work towards delivering a record breaking UEFA Women's EURO on home soil in 2022. We are confident that it will be worth the wait."
UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin added: "I would also like to thank The Football Association, the local organising committee and our member associations, who are as convinced as we are that the postponement to 2022 will be to the benefit of women's football at large. The football family has once again shown unity, and we are now not only in a position to look forward to a European summer of football in 2021, but in 2022 as well. We are grateful for the cooperation of FIFA and the Commonwealth Games Federation in arriving at these dates."
CGF President Dame Louise Martin DBE said: "I would like to thank UEFA and The FA for their constructive approach to working with the CGF. In this unprecedented time of global upheaval in our lives, we are working together to ensure a fantastic summer of sport in 2022.
"We have a shared objective to promote women's sport, and an exciting opportunity to achieve this in the coming years through UEFA Women's EURO and the Commonwealth Games. The popularity of women's football continues to grow rapidly, which the EURO will further enhance, while the 2022 Commonwealth Games is set to be the first major multi-sport event in history to feature more women's medal events than men's. We look forward to continuing to work closely with UEFA and The FA to showcase the very best of elite sporting competition."
United Kingdom's Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston added: "I am pleased that this decision will mean that the tournament will get the wide audience it deserves, and build on the fantastic momentum we have seen with the women's game in recent years.
"We are working closely with UEFA to make sure the competition is a huge success in 2022, and I look forward to what I know will be an unforgettable summer of sport on home soil."
Further details, including potential amendments to the match calendar or the name of the tournament, will be announced in due course.
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