Aston Villa Women’s season is over and rightly so – but the FA must come to the fairest decision for all clubs involved.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
The footballing season is now over for the Aston Villa Women as the FA have made the decision, in consultation with clubs and key stakeholders from both the FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship to conclude both league’s seasons – with the outcomes, promotion, relegation and things of that nature – to be decided at a later date.
In a full statement released by the FA, they announce that the decision to end the season was made in the ‘best interest of the Women’s game’ and that the conclusion came following ‘overwhelming feedback from the clubs’.
The decision is the right one, with financial investment nowhere near the level that it is in the men’s equivalent of these leagues, the logistical and operational challenges behind reviving the season would be too great for a number of clubs and create more issues and challenges moving forward.
Both the FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship have put forward a number of recommendations to be sent to the English Football Association, allowing them to determine the best way to conclude each season.
Identifying the entries into the UEFA Women’s Champions League is an issue that is faced by the Women’s Super League – and this is likely to be decided based on sporting merit from the 2019/20 season.
Issues facing the FA Women’s Championship include the singular promotion spot, currently occupied by Aston Villa Women, and the relegation from the league too.
Aston Villa Women, before the postponement and eventual end of the season, were having their best year of football to date – sitting at the peak of the league table with a six point lead over second placed Sheffield United Women and boasted a fourteen game unbeaten run that looked as if it would continue towards an invincible season.
They also reached the Quarter-Final of the Continental Cup, the Women’s League Cup, for the first time in their history, bowing out valiantly against Super League title contenders Chelsea, whilst reaching the fourth round of the Women’s FA Cup before being knocked out by Super League side Brighton & Hove Albion.
On sporting merit, Aston Villa Women should find themselves in the FA Women’s Super League when Women’s football in the United Kingdom is allowed to resume – but it begs questions into relegation from the upper tier, with Liverpool Women currently occupying the relegation zone and only a point behind out-of-form Birmingham City Women. With eight games remaining – there are three potential teams that could quite easily have been relegated.
The same could be said for Aston Villa’s league, with Lewes, Coventry, Crystal Palace and Charlton Athletic all potential candidates for relegation, whilst Sheffield United Women or Durham could have pipped Villa to the sole promotion spot if Gemma Davies’ ladies had found themselves in a rough patch of form.
The safety of the players and staff is paramount. That is the first thing – so the decision to finish the season here is key.
It would not be the end of the world should Aston Villa Women find themselves still in the second tier next season, but for the side to have worked so incredibly hard whilst achieving a near history-breaking feat would be awfully disheartening.
The season must conclude fairly. For all. If that means Aston Villa Women are promoted, then it is deserved. If they start their next season in the FA Women’s Championship, then it’s a case of continuing, and finishing what they started – which will not be easy.