“If you had one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted… would you capture it?” Or would the outbreak of a Global pandemic put that opportunity on ice or even cancel it outright? Unfortunately, those are the possible outcomes after the decision to end the women’s domestic football season with immediate effect was announced at yesterday’s meeting of the joint WSL and Championship board.
This, of course, leaves potentially horrible ramifications for Aston Villa Women and their potential promotion to the WSL that seemed very likely to occur.
This season has been remarkable throughout for the ladies in Claret and Blue, as they stormed the division right from the start of the campaign. At the point that proceedings were halted nationwide in March, Gemma Davies’ ladies sat comfortably top of the division; 6 points clear, undefeated in 14 games and having only dropped 2 points all season. With 6 games remaining there seemed absolutely no stopping them, but as Liverpool have found out in the Men’s Premier League, sometimes fate has other cruel plans.
The only difference is that, whereas the men’s top divisions seem geared up to make a go of playing out the remaining fixtures and deciding the outcomes on the pitch – as with the Bundesliga – the women’s game seems destined to be decided – one way or another – in the board room. That’s a crying shame for Villa.
So what could it mean for Villa? Well, as we’ve learned from all over the globe during this pandemic; it’s complicated. Even more so in the Women’s Super League, where Manchester City currently sit one point clear at the top but with second placed Chelsea holding a game in hand (where have I heard games in hand mentioned as a point of significance in this debate before?).
The WSL’s complicated dilemma is also significant for Villa though, because whatever is decided in the top flight is very likely going be applied to the second tier too. That’s potentially very bad news for Villa.
With the Super League poised so tentatively and with games in hand to consider, teams are unlikely to vote to allow the current league to be declared final. This of course raises the looming possibility of ‘null and void’ coming into play and that would be the bitterest pill to swallow for Villa’s brilliant coaching staff and squad after their excellent season so far.
But there is a ray of hope; Villa Women have a representative in the seats of power of the women’s game. Aston Villa’s Chief Commercial Officer, Nicola Ibbetson, is one of only two representatives from the Women’s Championship teams to hold a place amongst the game’s decision makers. I’m sure she’ll be fighting tooth and nail to have Villa Women declared rightful champions, allowing them to gain the promotion they so richly deserve.
It’s likely to be a nerve-wracking period for the team and us as fans as we await to see what decision is ultimately made. Hopefully, from a Villa perspective, it’s the right one for our team, but that’s far from a certainty. With the men’s and women’s teams facing uncertain futures at diiferent ends of their respective tables, it’s not an easy time for those of a Villa persuasion.
The men look like being given a shot to play their way out of relegation trouble on the pitch, but with that being taken off the table for the women, let’s hope they can fight their way to their well earned promotion off it.
By Jamie Yapp