6 Things We Learned From the FA's Post-WSL Media Conference

Magdalena Eriksson, Millie Bright
Chelsea v Arsenal - FA Women's Continental League Cup Final | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

The Women's Super League title was awarded to Chelsea on Friday, with the Blues leapfrogging rivals Manchester City on a points-per-game metric.

Kelly Simmons, the FA’s Director of the Women’s Professional Game, came onto a video chat later in the day with a handful of journalists to answer some questions about what this week's decisions mean, and how things will look going forward.

In a nice, digestible format – here's some of the key answers.

When Will the 2020/21 WSL Start?

Millie Bright, Caroline Weir
Manchester City v Chelsea - Barclays FA Women's Super League | Visionhaus/Getty Images

The burning question since this week's cancellation of the 2019/20 season: when are we next going to see women's top-flight football in England?

"We've been consulting with the clubs this week and with the board today, and we're planning to come back on the 5/6 September."

Was the Reason to Cancel the Season Purely Money-Driven?

Leah Galton
Everton v Manchester United - Barclays FA Women's Super League | Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Another question that's been asked: with all of the restarts around Europe, and Germany's women's league already up and running, why did the WSL and Championship end their seasons? Was it just a question of funding?

Apparently not.

"We're guided by government policy, so we waited for the protocols to come out with regards to coming back to training. When we looked at those and consulted with the clubs, there were a number of practical obstacles to the clubs delivering those operationally, as well as the cost around testing.

"It became clear quite early once we started to assess those protocols that there were going to be a number of challenges beyond the costs of testing. We spoke to the captains of all the clubs and they had concerns about coming back, it was an almost unanimous decision from the clubs to terminate the season and focus on coming back [for 2020/21]."

Are Clubs in a Financial Hole Because of the Season Cancellation?

Jill Scott, Tessa Wullaert
Manchester City v Bristol City - Barclays FA Women's Super League | Charlotte Tattersall/Getty Images

Men's clubs up and down the country are issuing dire warnings about their financial situations as they suffer from a lack of matchday revenue and associated income – but the structure of the women's game means that's less of an issue.

"The FA puts £7m a year into the WSL/Champ and despite the fact that we're going through cuts, the FA have ring-fenced that £7m. The next step for us is to go through the protocols with the clubs and work out what's required, we're talking to the football stakeholders and the government about making sure we come back in September.

"We've reviewed all the clubs' finances and they're all okay in that sense [surviving until next season]. A number of clubs have come out and reemphasised their commitment to the women's game."

When Will the FA Cup Come Back?

Melissa Lawley, Ellie Roebuck, Abbie McManus, Georgia Stanway, Pauline Bremer
Manchester City Women v West Ham United Ladies - Women's FA Cup Final | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

There had been some suggestion that the 2019/20 FA Cup could be completed in the gap between the end of the cancelled season and the start of the new one, but that will not be the case. The hope is still to complete the competition – currently at its quarter-final stage – in the early months of the 2020/21 season.

"In terms of putting the players at the centre and giving them the right pre-season training, so they're in the best position to deliver a great product for the clubs and for England, and to protect them from injury, that leads us to that early September restart. If we can get the Women's FA Cup away, it's more likely to be weaved into those early months of the season.

"We've got to check in with FIFA about completing competitions in a different season. We want to bring it back, it could be three brilliant weekends of women's football on the BBC, and we know that the women's FA Cup delivers big audiences. We've spoken to all the clubs this week and there's support for it if we can deliver it."

How Many Clubs Will Be in the Championship?

Sophie Jones, Evie Gane
Sheffield United Women v Aston Villa Ladies - The FA Women's Championship | George Wood/Getty Images

With every league below the Championship cancelled and voided some weeks ago, no new clubs will be coming up to the second tier – and winless Charlton will get a reprieve. There was, however, meant to be a double promotion in order to bring the number of teams in the Championship back to an even number.

There will be no rejigging of the leagues in order to facilitate that, rather another season with 11 teams and a double promotion at the end of the campaign.

"It's not perfect and at the end of next season we'll correct it, but the women's football board have to look at the entire pyramid and be conscious that the decision was to null and void the lower leagues. Having null and voided tier three, we'll operate with 11 teams next year and work to get football back as quickly as we can. At the end of next season we'll revert to two-up to return to 12."

When Will the Transfer Window Be?

Samantha Kerr
Manchester City v Chelsea - Barclays FA Women's Super League | Visionhaus/Getty Images

Simple question, simple answer.

"We've agreed the transfer windows with the board today, we're looking at the window opening on 19 June through to 10 September."

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