By Kate Russell
Leeds United Ladies’ manager Andy Burgess fears for the club’s future after they were turned down for a place in a new division in the FA Women’s Super League.
The Premier League club had hoped to be selected to join the new second division of the Super League franchise. But its application was turned down last Friday – despite Leeds United’s position in third place of their league.
They are the highest placed team to be turned down and the selection means that teams playing in lower divisions have ‘leapfrogged’ the Premier League altogether.
Burgess said: “We don’t know if the club will continue. It’s all up in the air. Our players understandably want to play at the top level. You only get one career and you don’t get many chances.
“We hadn’t planned for not getting it.”
Among the teams approved for the new division are Aston Villa, Yeovil, Durham, Millwall and Sunderland. The FA has not published its reasons for the decision.
Burgess was also disappointed in the FA’s timing of the announcement, saying: “It’s a critical time in the season – there are five massive games yet to play and the league cup final on Sunday. I don’t see why the announcement couldn’t be made after the season had finished.”
Carey Huegett, 21, the team’s centre forward, said: “It’s very frustrating. We can still win the league, but regardless of how well we do this season, we won’t be in the Super League.”
Eighteen teams were selected having been judged in four categories: financial and business management; commercial sustainability and marketing; facilities; and players, support staff and youth development.
Huegett said: “It was all there. Everything was in place. We don’t know where it has gone wrong.
“Other teams fear playing us and we’re not in it. It’s a massive loss for the team and for the super league.”
The WSL was introduced in 2011 to replace the FA Women’s Premier League as the top league in England for women’s football. It was announced this year that the league would be expanded to include a second division for the 2014 season.
Disappointed fans vented their frustration on the FA WSL website. Chris Davies commented: “What the hell are the FA playing at. How can Leeds Ladies not be in the WSL 2. Just look at the league table for how stupid this decision is.”
And Ben Moyle commented: “League selection based not on football merit. Rich Premier League owners must be casting envious eyes over this and hoping men’s football goes the same way. Shameful.”
When contacted, the FA declined to comment.