Women’s Sports Column 21-27 July 2018

fieldhockeysticksWelcome to this week’s column.  It’s been yet another one of those weeks when I wish I hadn’t “read the comments” on various articles, but I’m not going to give the trolls any more publicity by giving details.

But there are also lots of positive stuff out there and lots to get through so here we go with stories from golf, football, hockey (there’s a World Cup going on, you know), cycling, rugby, cricket and athletics.

Snowboarding

Terrible news to start the column this week.  Snowboarder Ellie Soutter died on Wednesday, on her eighteenth birthday.

Soutter was a tremendous prospect and was in line to make the GB team for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

She had already won a bronze medal at the 2017 Youth Olympic Winter Festival and was picked for the GB team for the Junior World Championships in New Zealand in August and the senior GB squad for the snowboard cross Europa Cup.

Hockey

There have been shocks a-plenty in the first week of the Hockey World Cup in London.  Ireland, second lowest ranked side in the tournament, have become the first team to qualify for the quarter-finals.  England, meanwhile, can no longer qualify automatically and will have to go through play-offs.

Scores so far:

Pool A
China 0-3 Italy
Netherlands 7-0 Korea

Pool B
England 1-1 India
USA 1-3 Ireland
USA 1-1 England
India 0-1 Ireland

Pool C
Germany 3-1 South Africa
Argentina 6-2 Spain
Germany 3-2 Argentina
Spain 7-1 South Africa

Pool D
Australia 3-2 Japan
New Zealand 4-2 Belgium
Japan 2-1 New Zealand
Australia 0-0 Belgium

So far, Ireland have been the stars and England will need to up their game on Sunday if they are to beat the team with momentum on their side.  England have looked a bit nervous and even lethargic, but certainly unlucky at times.

The Netherlands look the team to beat.  They have only played one game so far against a poor Korean team, but they looked superb.  Australia, by contrast, have not impressed.  They nearly let a big lead against Japan slip and were unconvincing against Belgium.  The other team I have enjoyed watching so far is Japan.  They put in 100% effort all of the time and with no little skill.  The Cherry Blossoms (yes, really) deserved their win against the Black Sticks and will hopefully go further in the tournament.

For all the news, scores and fixtures check out the tournament website: http://www.fih.ch/events/world-cup/world-cup-2018/hockey-world-cup-london-2018-w/

Football – on the pitch

Women’s International Champions Cup

Manchester City are currently in the US playing in this new competition.  Three of Europe’s top teams; Olympic Lyonnais, Paris Saint-Germain and City are playing alongside the NWSL leaders, North Carolina Courage.

In the first match Courage beat PSG 2-1.  Jess McDonald scored the first after 19 minutes.  PSG drew level just before half-time with through an own goal.  But the US side claimed the points when they scored five minutes from time through Darian Jenks.

In the second match Manchester City were well beaten by European champions, Olympic Lyonnais.  The French side took the lead after just four minutes, through Eugenie Le Sommer.  Le Sommer bagged a second ten minutes later and three minutes after that Ada Hegerberg got the third and the game was effectively over before half-time.

Football – off the pitch

Signings

I may have seemed somewhat grumpy last week when I was questioning some of the overseas signings made by both Super League and Championship teams during the close season.  But there are also a fair few British players who will be plying their trade both on the continent and further next season, one of whom will be Izzy Christiansen.

Christiansen has signed a two-year contract with European champions, Lyon.  She will, of course, be joining up with former Manchester City teammate Lucy Bronze.

A selection of other signings:

Scotland midfielder Chloe Arthur has signed a two-year contract with Birmingham City from Bristol City.

Everton have signed striker Hannah Cain from Sheffield FC.

Reading Women have dabbled in the market yet again and have signed Doncaster Rovers Belles left-back Mayumi Pacheco and striker Millie Farrow from Bristol City.

West Ham are at it again too, signing German international midfielder Julia Simic from SC Freiburg.

Bristol City have been busy this week; left-back Ali Johnson has joined them from Liverpool and New Zealand international striker Katie Rood from Juventus.

Going the other way, Nadia Nadim has put in a transfer request at Manchester City.  She is clearly unhappy.  In an interview with the BBC she said,

“It is a fantastic club in many ways, but not for me.

“I’ve never felt home either in Manchester or Man City. I have made it very clear to the management that I want out, and this is something I’ve felt for a long time.”

Let’s hope she finds a way that suits all soon.

The FA has Spoken (or at least this is what’s happening at the moment)

Unsurprisingly, the FA has dismissed both Sunderland and Blackburn’s appeals and the Women’s Super League and Championship will comprise 11 teams in each next season.

It has been confirmed that Sunderland will play in the third tier, the Women’s National League.  The club is, understandably, disappointed, and released a statement, which you can read here:

https://www.safc.com/news/ladies-news/2018/july/ladies-appeal-unsuccessful

So it seems that the FA is now satisfied that the 22 chosen ones have met the required criteria.  But then they seemed satisfied with Doncaster Rovers Belles and Sheffield FC, both of whom have had to withdraw with financial problems.

I can’t help thinking this season will be make or break for the future of women‘s football in England – let’s just hope it’s not “break”.

Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award

Chelsea Head Coach, Emma Hayes, is among those on the shortlist for the Best FIFA Women’s Coach award.  The shortlist in full:

  • Emma Hayes (Eng) – Chelsea Ladies
  • Stephan Lerch (Ger) – VfL Wolfsburg
  • Mark Parsons (Eng) – Portland Thorns
  • Reynald Pedros (Fra) – Olympique Lyonnais
  • Alen Stajcic (Aus) – Australia national team
  • Asako Takakura (Jpn) – Japan national team
  • Vadao (Brz) – Brazil national team
  • Jorge Vilda (Spa) – Spain national team
  • Martina Voss-Tecklenburg (Ger) – Switzerland national team
  • Sarina Wiegman (Ned) – Netherlands national team

You can vote for your favourite – here is the link:

https://www.fifa.com/the-best-fifa-football-awards/best-fifa-womens-coach/

Golf – on the course

Scottish Open

Tiffany Joh leads the Scottish Open after a first round 62.  She is four shots ahead of In-Kyung Kim, Amy Yang and Jenny Shin, who lie at five under par.

Kelsey McDonald of Scotland is one further back, as is England’s Charley Hull.

Golf – off the course

The countdown to the Solheim Cup is officially on!

You know it’s getting serious when Europe names its vice-captains.  This week Europe captain Catriona Matthew named Suzann Petterson and Kathryn Imrie as her vice-captains.

Petterson is a veteran of no fewer than eight Solheim Cups and was also a vice-captain in 2017.

Imrie has only played in one Cup, in 1996.

The sixteenth Solheim Cup will be at Gleneagles from 13-15 September 2019.

Cricket

We’re underway in this year’s Kia Super League.  At the risk of inducing the curse, Loughborough Lightning lead the way at this early stage with two wins from two.

22 July

Surrey Stars 141/9 (20 overs)
Southern Vipers 145/3 (17 overs)
Vipers won by 7 wickets

The Stars got off to an abysmal start at Guildford, losing both openers, Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith for ducks.  Sarah Taylor, new to the Stars this season, made only six as the Stars slumped to 12/3.  Nat Sciver soon followed for two and they were deep in trouble at 18/4.

They then rallied with Dane van Niekerk scoring 31 and Marizanne Kapp 19 but it was Sophia Dunkley’s 66 from 43 balls that saw them post a useful 141.   Fi Morris was pick of the bowlers with 4/22.

But the Vipers haven’t been champions and runners-up in the last two seasons for nothing.  Their openers (Danni Wyatt 6 and Suzie Bates 9) went cheaply, but Tammy Beaumont scored 62 from 45 balls, ably supported by Mignon du Preez with 48 from 31 balls.  Du Preez went with the Vipers needing just 22, and Beaumont and Sarah McGlashan saw it home with three overs to spare.

Lancashire Thunder 72 all out (16.5 overs)
Loughborough Lightning 74/4 (15.1 overs)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

At the top of the order Eve Jones tried to hold it together while those around were out cheaply.  She made 19 from 20 balls, while the next seven batters scored 20 between them.  Kate Cross and Natalie Brown hit 13 each towards the end of the innings but it all added up to a paltry 72.

New signing Jenny Gunn took 3/10 from three overs and Sophie Devine took 3/15 from 2.5.

Lightning took their time in getting the runs.  At one point they were 19/3 and Thunder may have sniffed a chance.  But Elyse Villani (13), Georgia Elwiss (19) and Georgia Adams (22) saw them home.

Yorkshire Diamonds 162/5 (20 overs)
Western Storm 166/3 (15.2 overs)
Storm won by 7 wickets

The Diamonds posted a creditable 162, but the Storm never looked in danger of losing this one.  Delissa Kimmince top-scored for Yorkshire with 55, Lauren Winfield made 41 and Alice Davidson-Richards 33.

In response, Rachel Priest went for a duck, but England captain Heather Knight and Indian star Smriti Mandhana took it on.  Mandhana hit 48 from 20 balls before she was caught by Winfield off the bowling of Davidson-Richards.  Knight continued, scoring a fine 97 off 62.  In the end they won with a huge 27 balls to spare.

25 July

Southern Vipers 105 all out
Loughborough Lightning 109/4 (18.5)
Lightning won by 6 wickets

Lightning bagged their second win and their first against the Vipers on Wednesday with a fine bowling display.

Tammy Beaumont top-scored for the Vipers with 37, but Arran Brindle (19) and Mignon du Preez (13) were the only others to make double figures.

The wickets were shared between the bowlers; Devine 3/21, Smith 2/18, Gordon 2/23, Gunn 1/20, Glenn 1/14.

Lightning again took their time to get to their target.  Amy Jones and Elyse Villani both scored 35, with Villani particularly impressing.  After those two were out the game was seen home by Jenny Gunn (9) and Georgia Adams (5)

26 July

Western Storm 132/9 (20 overs)
Surrey Stars 136/3 (15.5 overs)
Stars won by 7 wickets

Who can stop the Western Storm?  Well Surrey, for a start.  Not many would have predicted this result.

Storm made a good start as the openers made a 43 partnership.  Priest was first to go for 21 but big guns Knight and Stafanie Taylor made only 6 each.  Mandhana battled for 37 from 21 balls.  Others tried to make starts, but there were no further significant scores and the Storm could only muster a middling 132.

Sophia Dunkley was pick of the bowlers with 3/18 off just two overs.

All of the Stars batters got starts.  Lee (22) and Smith (33) started it off and Sarah Taylor made 50 not out.  She and van Niekerk (14) saw it home with 25 balls to spare.

Athletics

Anniversary Games –results

Last weekend’s Anniversary Games saw mixed results for Team GB:

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price of Jamaica took the 100m with Dezerea Bryant of USA in second and Jonielle Smith of Jamaica in third.   GB’s Imani-Lara Lansiquot was fifth and Bianca Williams seventh.

It was a USA one-two in the 200m.  Jenna Prandini finished first and Gabrielle Thomas second.    Shericka Jackson of Jamaica came in third while GB’s Dina Asher-Smith was fourth.

The 400m saw a Jamaica one-two.  Stephenie-Ann McPherson was first and Anastasia Le-Roy second.  Courtney Okolo of USA was third.  Anyika Onuora was the best-placed British athlete in fifth.

Ce’Aira Brown of USA won the 800m.  Natoya Goule of Jamaica was second, while Lynsey Sharp of GB was third.

Laura Muir was being lined up to beat Zola Budd’s British mile record, but in the end could only finish fifth.  Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the race with Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia in second and Hellen Obiri of Kenya in third.

Lilian Kasait Rengeruk of Kenya took the 3000m.  Susan Krumins of the Netherlands was second and Katie Mackey of the USA third.  GB’s Melissa Courtney was fifth and Steph Twell sixth.

The 100m hurdles was a one-two-three for the USA.  Kendra Harrison was first, Brianna McNeal second and Sharika Nelvis third.

The US also took the 400m hurdles.  Shamia Little won it, Janieve Russell of Jamaica in second and Dalilah Muhammed of USA in third.

In the field events, the high jump was won by Mariya Lasitskene of Russia, Elena Vallortigara of Italy second and Morgan Lake of GB was joint third with Vashti Cunningham of USA.

It was a GB one-two in the long jump with Shara Proctor taking it from Lorraine Ugen with Brooke Stratton of Australia in third.

Sandra Perkovic of Croatia took the discus with Yaime Perez  and Denia Caballero of Cuba second and third respectively.

Hui Hui Lyi of China won the javelin.  Nikola Ogrodnikova of the Czech Republic was second and Kelsey-Lee Roberts third.

Rugby Union

Rugby World Cup Sevens

England’s disappointing Sevens season continued in San Francisco when they were beaten in their first game by Ireland 14-19.

Ashleigh Baxter scored the first try for Ireland after three minutes.   The conversion was missed and three minutes later Emily Scarratt’s try drew England level.  Holly Aitchison scored the conversion to take them ahead.   Amee Murphy Crowe then bagged two tries, both of which were converted by Lucy Mulhall.  England pulled one back on 14 minutes, converted again, but it was not enough.

England went on to defeat Mexico 59-0, China 38-0 and Japan 31-5 in the Challenge competition final, but this was scant consolation for not going through in the Championship competition.

The Championship final was won by New Zealand 29-0 against France. Michaela Blyde scored a hat-trick of tries and Portia Woodman and Tyla Nathan-Wong one each.  Nathan-Wong also put over two conversions.

Australia took the bronze final, beating USA 24-14.

Cycling

Bad news from cycling this week as it was announced that Wiggle High5 will fold after this season.

The team was founded in 2013 and employed 17 riders and 14 full-time members of staff.

It is thought that they are folding due to a lack of sponsorship.  Among those who will need to find new teams are Lucy and Grace Garner, Katie Archibald and Elinor Barker.

Other team members Elisa Longo Borghini and Audrey Cordon-Ragot have already been linked with the new Trek team, led by Lizzie Deignan.

Although my cycling knowledge is not extensive, I do see it as a typical “two steps forward, one back” sport.  For every positive story, there seems to be a negative one and most seem to revolve around funding.  This may be something professional cyclists are prepared for when they start out, but it does seem to be a sport more prone to gaps and problems with sponsorship.  I know there are plenty of professionals out there working in sports sponsorship – and those who specialise in women’s sport.  But it’s not happening.  There are the high-profile success stories; Vitality, SSE, Kia, etc., but some sports obviously need a better strategy.

I’d  like to do some work in this areas so, if anyone dealing in sports sponsorship wants to talk to me about it, or if anyone has ideas they would like to share, please get in touch via the website.

And finally

 “Outrage”.  There’s a lot of it about.  I must admit I’m not immune and I do get sucked in to the vast stagnant pond of outrage that is social media.  Some of it I think is justified – women raped and blamed for it with nauseating regularity, immigrating parents separated from their children at the border, women’s rights over their own bodies constantly being eroded, the rise of Neo-Nazism, etc.

And then there’s the other kind of “outrage” usually promulgated by those such as the Daily Mail – those foreigners coming over here, using our services and taking our jobs, “Europe” robbing us blind at every turn, anyone who is unlike their white middle-aged middle-class readership doing absolutely anything!

So imagine my surprise when that same Mail calls the fact that Barcelona’s women’s team flew economy while their male counterparts flew business on the same plane an “outrage”.  All I can say is it did me good. I’d like to think I wouldn’t have described it as an “outrage” – disappointing, a rubbish decision, a backwards step – something like that, but not an “outrage”.

But just in case I may have been tempted to do so, this headline has made me see sense.  It’s a poor decision by the club, but it’s not an “outrage”.  Time to get things into perspective, I think.

No column next week as I am out and about (at the cricket, truth be told), but back in a fortnight with more news and views.

Women’s Sports Column 23-29 September 2017

the-ball-stadion-horn-corner-47343Welcome to this week’s column.  You may remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned rumours of another FAWSL restructure may be in the offing?  Well, it now looks like it’s very much on – and so far few are impressed. See below for details.  The FA is really covering itself in glory at the moment, isn’t it?

Anyway, the column this week also includes news from cricket, rugby union, golf, hockey, speed skating, cycling, some good news from bobsleigh and tennis.  The focus of “And finally” this week is an update on the BBC’s 100 Women project.

Rugby Union

 Three teams remain unbeaten with two bonus point wins each after the second weekend of fixtures in the Premier 15s.  Gloucester-Hartpury Women are top on points difference (33), with Harlequins in second (27) and Richmond in third (24).   The weekend’s results were as follows:

23 September

Worcester Valkyries 10–62 Bristol Ladies
Harlequins 39-18 Firwood Waterloo
Gloucester-Hartpury 26-22 Wasps
Richmond 27-10 DMP Sharks

24 September

Saracens 34-20 Loughborough Lightning

This weekend’s fixtures:

30 September
Loughborough Lightning v Harlequins (12pm Loughborough RFC)
Worcester Valkyries v Saracens (2pm Sixways Stadium)
Firwood Waterloo v Bristol (2.30pm)
Gloucester-Hartpury v Richmond (2.30pm)
DMP Sharks v Wasps (4pm Northern Echo Arena)

Wasps

Meanwhile Wasps have been on a signing spree this week as they welcomed four England players to boost their squad.  Harriet Millar-Mills, Amy Cockayne and Justine Lucas join from luckless Lichfield, while Rochelle Clark makes the transfer from Worcester Valkyries.

It’s a sad situation, although one often found in sport, that if players wish to be considered for their national sides, they have to play at the top level – it’s not enough to excel in a lower division.  Obviously it means they will face more testing opposition week in, week out, but it is still shame that those at a lower level are doomed to be “selling” clubs.

Wasps are without a win so far this season, but this fearsome foursome should make a significant change to the situation.

England

The Old Mutual Wealth Series fixtures were also announced this week.  It will be a triple-header against Canada.

17 November – Allianz Park (7.30pm – game to be streamed live by EnglandRugby.com
21 November – Twickenham Stoop (7.45pm – broadcast to be announced)
25 November – Twickenham Stadium (5.40pm live on Sky Sports – part of double-header with England’s men who play Samoa at 3pm)

Referees

Not strictly women’s sport this one, but women in sport and worthy of inclusion.

Alhambra Nievas and Joy Neville will both referee men’s internationals this year.

Nievas will take charge of Finland v Norway in the Conference 2 on 14 October.  Neville will also officiate at a Norway match, this time against Denmark on 28 October.

Both officials have a wealth of experience; Neville refereed the Women’s Rugby World Cup this summer and is a former Ireland Captain.  Las season she became the first female assistant referee to officiate in a men’s European rugby match.  Nievas is a former Spain international and was the first female official to assist in men’s Test match.

The good news is they are likely to have a much better time of it than football referees as rugby referees are treated with more respect generally.  What the reaction on the terraces will be like is not so certain.

In an interview with the BBC, Nigel Owens, everyone’s favourite referee and arbiter of good sense said,

“It’s great to see a cross-section as men have been refereeing the women’s game for a long time.

“It doesn’t matter about the colour of our skin, whether you’re a man or a woman, your sexuality or religious beliefs. None of that should matter one bit. If you’re good at what you do, then you should have the opportunity to excel at that and referee at the level you deserve.

“These two are getting what they deserve from the hard work they’ve done.”

Golf

The New Zealand Open at Windross Farm Golf Course in Auckland began on 28 September.  After round one, Jodi Ewart-Shadoff of England shared the lead with Brooke Henderson of Canada on -7, after shooting 65s.  Belen Mozo of Spain and Amy Bouldon of England are tied on third, one stroke back with Beatriz Recari (Spain) Na Yeon Choi (South Korea) and Brittany Linicome (USA) a further shot back, tied for fifth on -5.

Cycling

The UCI Road World Championships – Elite Women’s Road Race

The Women’s Road Race took place on Saturday.  Who can stop the Dutch?  No-one it seems as Chantal Blaak took the title, 28 seconds ahead of Katrin Garfoot of Australia.    Defending champion, Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark, was third.  The Dutch worked so well as a team it was no surprise to see three of them in the top ten.

Top ten finishers:

  1. Chantal Blaak (Ned) 4hrs 06mins 30secs
  2. Katrin Garfoot (Aus) +28secs
  3. Amaile Dideriksen (Den) Same time
  4. Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned)
  5. Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Pol)
  6. Christine Majerus (Lux)
  7. Susanne Andersen (Nor)
  8. Anna Van der Breggen (Ned)
  9. Emilia Fahlin (Swe)
  10. Elena Cecchini (Ita)

Of the British team, Hannah Barnes finished 14th, Dani King 20th, Lizzie Deignan 41st, Hayley Simmonds 48th, and Elinor Barker 66th.  Alice Barker and Mel Lowther failed to finish.

Off the Track

This week also saw the installation of a new UCI president.  David Lappartient beat the incumbent, Brian Cookson, 37-8 in the vote.  One of the first things he did was to repeat the commitment that Cookson had made to prioritise the development of women’s cycling.  His emphasis was on the responsibilities of race organisers and broadcasters.

“We have some wonderful classics, some are on live TV; we’re going the right way but we don’t have a strong stage race like the Tour de France.

“Without this kind of race it will be difficult to promote women. Organisers must take care of this, that’s also part of our global responsibility. We need to have races on TV.”

There are still relatively few professional female riders.  Many women combine a day job with their cycling.  Lappartient went on to say,

“They must earn their life with cycling and not just riding for nothing.”

He then announced that the minimum wage for the men would be increased.  Hurrah!  But then he failed to announce that a women’s minimum wage would be introduced.  No, there is no minimum wage at all for women, let alone one to increase.  So, on one hand he would like to ensure that women are not “riding for nothing”, but on the other he has no plans to introduce a wage that would help end this problem.

Hockey

The Investec Women’s Hockey League began its 2017-18 season on 23 September. The first round of results was as follows:

East Grinstead 0-0 Holcombe
University of Birmingham 1-3 Bowdon
Canterbury 2-2 Surbiton
Clifton Robinsons 2-0 Leicester
Slough 3-1 Buckingham

For upcoming fixtures check out the England hockey website here

Tennis

Wuhan Open

Unseeded Ashleigh Barty is having a storming week at the Wuhan Open.  She beat British number one Johanna Konta in the second round 6-0 4-6 7-6, ninth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the round of 16, 4-6 6-0 6-4 and third seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals 4-6 7-6 7-6.  She now plays eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko who defeated world number one Garbine Muguruza in their quarter-final 1-6 6-3 6-2.

The second semi-final will be between the unseeded Maria Sakkari of Greece and Caroline Garcia of France.

Speed Skating

There are four qualifying events between now and the Pyeongchang Olympics which will decide the speed skating qualifiers.  This weekend sees the first, the Budapest World Cup.

Britain’s Elise Christie will be looking to start strongly.  Results to come in next week’s column.

Football

Signings

Manchester City Women have signed Danish Euros star Nadia Nadim.

She will join the current league champions in January, after finishing the season with her current club, Portland Thorns.

Nadim’s backstory is well known, but bears repeating.

When Nadim was only 12 she fled Afghanistan with her mother and four sisters when her father was executed by the Taliban.  They found refuge in Denmark and she has now played for her new country 74 times.

While she has been playing in the United States she has also been studying at medical school and plans to become a doctor when she hangs up her boots.

West Ham United

It finally looks like West Ham has some serious backing after they announced this week that are likely to bid for a licence to play in the new restructured WSL.

The Ladies’ side was finally integrated into the club in 2016, after a highly public row between the then manager, Julian Dicks, and the women’s club chairman, Stephen Hunt, who accused the parent club of sexism in denying the women’s team the facilities and support they needed to play.

West Ham currently play in the Women’s Premier League Southern Division – women’s football’s third tier.

It will be somewhat of a jump in footballing class for the hammers, but let’s face it, the FA probably won’t be looking at that – they’ll be judging on a financial basis.  If you can afford it, you could be in.

England

England under-19s head coach, Mo Marley is to be appointed as interim manager of the Lionesses.  She brings no lack of experience to the post having captained England as a player, been assistant to Hope Powell during her tenure and having managed Everton Ladies domestically.

Marley will be in charge for the friendly against France in October and the World Cup qualifiers in November against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

New Super League Structure (Yes, again)

Another day, another “initiative”.  Will someone please save me (and women’s football) from the FA and their constant tinkering?

Their latest restructure, if I read it right, will see a top tier of full-time only clubs for the season 2018-19.

All clubs have to re-apply for places in WSL1 and have until 10 November to submit their applications.  Teams outside WSL1 who wish to apply will do so in March 2018.

The criteria are business-based only: players have to have 16 so-called contact hours per week, rising to 20 hours per week by 2020-21.  The club must have a minimum level of financial investment and also an academy system in place.  They have to conform to Financial Fair Play regulations.

As no-one knows at the moment how many clubs will be able to fulfil the conditions, the FA are saying that the WSL will comprise between eight and 14 teams.

The new second tier, the tier with no name, will have 10-12 clubs and players will be part-time.  Clubs will be required to have a reserve team, but not necessarily an academy.

The WPL regional divisions will be unaffected.

While no-one wants to see a repeat of the Notts County situation, the FA’s concentration on a “stronger commercial model”, according to the FA’s head of women’s leagues and competitions, Katie Brazier, is a soulless approach that could see the women’s game head down the same road as the men’s.

Apparently, “It will provide an elite performance environment that will produce more and better players, increase the interest and excitement via a more competitive league, attract a greater number of fans and in turn deliver improved commercial viability for clubs and the leagues.”

In my cynical way I’m tempted to say – prove it.

Yeovil Town have been the first club to respond to the move with general manager Trevor Jenkins saying that the club will need to raise over £350,000 in order to compete in the new league.  At the moment they are in WSL1 on merit, as it should be.  They have no professionals and no academy.  In a couple of months they are going to have to make major changes if they want their application to be a part of the new WSL to be successful.

We all want the women’s game to be successful and indeed no-one can disagree with the FA’s ultimate aims.  We all want the game to develop and grow and be sustainable.  But the constant uncertainty, the constant shifting of the goalposts (apologies) just brings a feeling of impermanence and the inescapable sense that the FA can’t decide on one clear strategy – and can’t be bothered to sort it.

This is the second week running that I’ve ended the football news with the phrase “women’s football deserves better”.  And it’s the second time I’ve thought it’s not going to get it.

Bobsleigh

Good news and mind-boggling news from the world of bobsleigh this week.  After reporting in the last column that Mica McNeill and her team were going to crowdfund their attempt to get to Pyeongchang I’m happy to confirm that they reached their target on Monday.

Now a second team, piloted by Donna Creighton is bidding to do the same.   You can contribute here: https://makeachamp.com/teamdc.

The BBSA decision to stop funding the women’s teams drew widespread criticism from both inside and outside the sport.

Olympic skeleton champion Lizzy Yarnold accused the body of “mismanagement”, adding,

“It’s hard to see talent and hard work go to waste.  Everyone deserves their moment to make their dreams come true.”

Things then moved again when BBSA chief executive Richard Parker resigned from his position. The body then announced that they are now in a position to “partially support” a women’s team in their attempt to reach Pyeongchang.

So they are seriously saying that the chief executive’s salary is going into partially funding a team?

It seems there is still plenty more to come in this story.

Cricket

England’s Ashes squad was announced this week.  Unsurprisingly, it is largely the squad that won the World Cup this summer with the addition of spinner Sophie Ecclestone.  Beth Langston is the unlucky player to miss out.

The squad in full:

Heather Knight (captain, Berkshire), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Jenny Gunn (Warwickshire), Alex Hartley (Lancashire), Danielle Hazell (Yorkshire), Laura Marsh (Kent), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Anya Shrubsole (Somerset), Sarah Taylor (wk, Sussex), Fran Wilson (Middlesex), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Danni Wyatt (Sussex).

There was good news from Cricket Australia this week as they confirmed that the Allan Border Field in Brisbane, the venue for the first ODI on 22 October is already a sell-out.

The fixtures are as follows:

22 October: 1st ODI Allan Border Field, Brisbane
22 October: 2nd ODI Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, NSW
29 October: 3rd ODI Coffs International Stadium, Coffs Harbour, NSW

9-12 November: Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, Sydney

17 November: 1st T20 North Sydney Oval, Sydney
19 November: 2ndT20 Manuka Oval, Canberra
21 November: 3rdT20 Manuka Oval, Canberra

And finally,

The BBC 100 women list is nearly ready.  There are several women under the #TeamPlay hashtag, concentrating on sexism in sport, including Mithali Raj and Steph Houghton.  For the full list, check out the website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-41380265.