Women’s Super League: Proposal could see season finished in six weeks at central base

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April 17, 2020
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    Manchester City v Chelsea in the Women's Super League

    Manchester City are the leaders of the Women’s Super League, one point clear of Chelsea

    The Women’s Super League season could be completed over a six-week period, with the 45 games left played behind closed doors at one central base.

    St George’s Park, the Football Association’s national football centre, is understood to be under consideration to host teams and matches.

    Depending on government advice, the earliest the campaign could restart would be the weekend of 6-7 June.

    But that relies on players resuming training in the final week of May.

    • Read more:Premier League clubs committed to finishing season but no deadline discussed

    The remaining options for this campaign were outlined to WSL clubs during a conference call on Thursday, including the possibility of having to void the season.

    An FA spokesperson told BBC Sport: “We are in the early stages of assessing what options are available for when it is safe and appropriate to resume the FA WSL and FA WC seasons.

    “This includes the potential use of neutral venues.

    “Any scenarios are under constant review in line with the latest government advice. We are in regular contact with all clubs and the safety and welfare of everybody involved remains our priority.”

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    WSL should resume when the men’s game does – Hayes

    No WSL fixtures have been played since 23 February, with 13 March’s suspension of elite football across England coming after a two-week international break for the SheBelieves Cup and the Women’s League Cup final on 29 February.

    The FA, which runs the women’s leagues in England, remains determined to try to finish the season – as long as it is safe to do so.

    But it is understood two other possible resumption dates which were previously on the table, with earlier restarts, are no longer viable following Wednesday’s confirmation that the government’s lockdown across the country has been extended.

    The FA is understood to want the top women’s divisions next steps to be in line with any decisions made by the Premier League, as well as following guidance from European football’s governing body Uefa, with the top two WSL teams set to qualify for the Women’s Champions League.

    That means there could yet be some flexibility around the proposed restart start in June, but nevertheless the WSL is understood to have two main options remaining as the most likely.

    Tiers three to seven of the women’s pyramid in England were formally declared null and void after that decision was ratified on 9 April and the top two tiers could follow suit depending on the health advice given.

    Concluding the top-tier campaign, if the earliest possible date of 6-7 June can be used, could involve the following:

    • Players resuming full training in the final week of May

    • All teams being based at a central hub like St George’s Park, Burton-upon-Trent

    • Matches could recommence from the weekend of 6-7 June, behind closed doors

    • WSL teams would play two matches per week for the following six weeks

    • That timeframe would see the campaign conclude by the weekend of 18-19 July

    Holding games at traditional home and away venues has not yet been fully ruled out, and clubs will each decide when they resume training, in line with government advice.

    Three weekends are expected to be needed to play the remaining rounds of the Women’s FA Cup, which had reached the quarter-final stage.

    Birmingham City, who have reached the last eight of the cup, have the most WSL matches remaining – nine – because of games in hand.

    The West Midlands club could therefore have a maximum of 12 domestic fixtures remaining this term, if they were to reach the cup final.

    Manchester City led the WSL table by a point when the season was suspended. Second-placed Chelsea and third-placed Arsenal, who are four points off top spot, both had a game in hand on City.

    At the bottom, Liverpool are a point from safety with eight matches left to play.

    Source

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