The FA...Doncaster Rovers Belles and the Womens Game in the UK.

I have just finished watching the Womens European Championship opener between hosts Sweden and Denmark. It was a bit of a cracker and one played out before a packed house in Gothenburg.
For years I have felt that the womens game has not attracted the attention it has deserved , but the outstanding quality of play last night pointed to the fact that this part of the great game is in rude health , at least in Europe and America.
England for sure are improving at international level but it is hard to look beyond the Germans for the likely victors in the current tournament.
If we look at the game nationally, here in the UK, a familiar picture emerges, one of FA neglect and indifference mixed with an eye for a fast buck.
OK......the FA have launched a campaign recently ` Kick off Your Career' which is aimed at young women thinking of football as a career, but just what is on offer?
Should they progress via the scheme there is pretty much only the Super League  that  currently has the FA `s attention, and what of that!
Well.....BBC`s Jacqui Oatley recently  asked the question ` where are United' pointing to the absence of the Manchester giant from the womens game, which they left in 2005 so far not to return.  
Jacqui goes on to say that `Manchester City by way of contrast, take the womens game seriously', and indeed they do ( ask Doncaster Rovers Belles, who have taken the game seriously for 44 years now!)
A closer inspection of the recent history of that historic Club is however, as distressing as it is revealing .
Formed in 1969 , Doncaster Rovers Belles were pioneers of the womens game being founder members of National League in 1991 and the FA Womens Super League in 2011.
Then ...suddenly the FA issue a dictat stating that at the end of the current season, irrespective of where the Club finishes in the league, Doncaster Rovers Belles will be relegated and their place taken by Manchester City ( again irrespective of where that club finishes in the league below).
Doncaster tried to appeal, but the Appeals Panel decided that under the terms and conditions of `this administrative process`, no appeal was permitted.
Disgraceful hardly covers it, and it is no surprise that the turmoil has seen Rovers form slump -whose wouldn`t!
Doncaster Rovers Belles therefore, a Club steeped in the best traditions of the game, will thus be consigned  to the lower reaches of the game despite their consistent record of stability etc etc, to make way , in indecent haste, for the Eastland Gravy Train.
At a time when the womens game in this country should be on the up, there is a severe danger that, despite every Super League club being united in support of the Belles, that the FA will see it lurch into reverse.
The womens game deserves better!

Ian Brown


  1. Being a Doncaster girl myself, I hate to see the Belles being treated in this way but unfortunately the sport is ruled by those Croesus-rich clubs like Man City.

  2. You might want to have a look at how the Australian version works - each of the A League teams (pretty much) has a team in the W League and they are very much part of the same set up. The whole A league set up dictates a club runs 3 teams - first grade, under 21st and women league. We don't get full TV coverage, but we always get highlights of the W League Newcastle Jets games on the TV news.

    Mike in Oz

  3. Sounds like there is a desire to be supportive of the Womens game in Oz Mike, and I bet you have relegation and promotion via a merit system based on how a team finishes in their respective league, as well!
    So did the UK equivalent until the FA stepped in with this apalling injustice. I do not quite know how these suits sleep at night with such a calumny debited to them.
    Money is the driving factor of course as Pauline stated, and I fear a headlong dash for dosh will only result in the grass roots womens game in the UK suffering as a result.

  4. If you would like to read more about the case the Belles have in relation to the FA

  5. Shared your link with other site Carl.....thanks for that -a truly depressing story!

  6. No team in Doncaster is ever going to have the resources of either Manchester giant. However,as the new management at the Keepmoat are ground-sharing and bringing together the men's and women's football teams, plus the rugby league side, it is hard to see why the Belles are seen as not having the infrastructure to stay in the top flight.Relegation on results is hard to take but this is outrageous. Cynical and depressing.


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