FAWSL – All about the money?

So the 2013 Women’s Super League is now over, with Liverpool the league winners and Arsenal a surprise third. Next season will see the league expanding to two tiers with 18 teams. Manchester City being placed straight in to WSL1, Lincoln Ladies moving over the Trent to Notts County and Doncaster Belles being demoted to WSL2.

There have been cries of the league turning in to a franchise system, and the money seems to buy you status. But here’s the thing, the league has one main purpose, to be filled of professional players and the only way that’s going to happen is if someone is going to pay them to play.

For the last three seasons I’ve been to most home games for the Lincoln Ladies and this year was even a season ticket holder. I preferred the atmosphere of having the games at Ashby Avenue, but do accept that the quality of the pitch including the floodlights which were player side of the advertising hoardings wasn’t as great as Sincil Bank, and as Sincil Bank is only a 2 minute walk from my house a little quicker to get to.

However after 3 years turnout in Lincoln is still low. Most games just bring in 300 fans, and those sorts of numbers aren’t helping pay the wages. I’m disappointed to see them leave, but I do think it’s in the best interest of the team and game for them to go. The Chairman (who owns both County and the Ladies) can make the most of the assets he already has like the kits, bus and especially the training facilities.

Liverpool’s reversal of fortune from being consistently the worst in the league to winners this year is all down to money, commitment and regular training. Hopefully something the team can learn from.

Despite this season being the worst placed they have been, I hope the team keep most of the players and their manager Rick Passmore. If they could just work out how to score more goals they might have a chance at moving up the league. Defensively they’ve been one of the better teams, with only Arsenal conceding fewer.

This year two players shone out, Remi Allen who would always go in for a tackle and had no fear, and Martha Harris who helped the England Under 19 reach the finals of this years Euros tournament.

And so on the problem with Doncaster. Being told you were being relegated after one match of the season wasn’t the greatest idea by the FA, however with the Women’s Premier League still running an August-May fixture schedule, teams being promoted up from this league needed to know what was going on sooner rather than later. I’m slightly disappointed that after the 11 month gaps the first time around the FA hadn’t moved the rest of the Women’s ladder to a summer schedule, but that’s where they were.

Doncaster finished their first two seasons second from bottom, have had some of the lowest gates, little sponsorship, and along with being third in line to arrange fixtures at the Keepmoat, it’s wasn’t the greatest surprise that their bid fell short of what the FA were looking for. And whether it was knowing the inevitable, or just being the weakest team this season, they finished last, having lost 8-0 to Arsenal and 9-0 Liverpool.

Positives I’ve seen this season: BT Sport have appeared to made a greater effort than ESPN did with the rights to the game, and the BBC not only have been running the Womens Football Show (although at the most stupidest time of the day for any young women to watch), but also covering results in the news. The league no longer looks like it’s just a chance for Arsenal to show how great they are, with strong competition from the other teams.

Hopefuls for next season: Higher turnouts; more games televised, it’s not as if BT Sport have much else to show to not do one game a week; a better league cup tournament now the league has 18 teams instead of 8. A chance for me and Beatie to get to some games, Nottingham is close, but not on the doorstep, and I might even attempt an Arsenal home game as well. Finally for Notts County to get in to the top half of the league, might not be Champions League material yet, but you can get there one day.

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