“We’re in a different position to the men financially, where potentially if one of us got a serious injury and was at the end of our contract, where do we go then?”
Last Updated: 12/08/20 7:58pm
West Ham captain Gilly Flaherty says Women’s Super League players urged the Football Association to cancel the 2019/20 season due to fears over their professional futures amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Both the WSL and Women’s Championship seasons were ended in May in what the FA described at the time as a decision made following “overwhelming feedback from clubs” and “in the best interest of the women’s game”.
Chelsea were named champions on a points-per-game ratio, while Liverpool were relegated, with the latter expressing their “disappointment” at how the season ended.
Flaherty told Sky Sports News: “I know a lot of fans were unhappy that we didn’t go back and I know they said ‘well, the men have gone back so why haven’t the women gone back?’
“What fans don’t realise is that we were having chats. All the captains from the clubs were having zoom calls with the FA to talk about how we felt as players.
“We said if it were maybe a month after lockdown had happened, you could probably get players back, but there were a lot of players out of contract, there were a lot of players who weren’t comfortable after having three months to go back and play two games a week.
“We’re in a different position to the men financially, where potentially if one of us got a serious injury and was at the end of our contract, where do we go then? And there were a lot of people in that position.
“What fans don’t realise is that a lot of the players after four months of being off, weren’t comfortable to go back. And the FA listened to that, the FA could have said ‘listen, you’re going back and you’re playing the games,’ but they didn’t, they listened to the players and they listened to how we felt.”
The first round of matches in the 2020/21 season are scheduled to take place on the weekend of September 5-6, with Flaherty’s West Ham set to begin their campaign with a London derby against Tottenham.
“I think that’s what the FA did incredibly well,” Flaherty added.
“I feel like they’ve got women’s football in a very good place in this country, you’re talking it’s the number one league in Europe if not the world the way it is, and it’s about protecting that and making sure we do sustain it for the years to come, that five-ten years’ time we’ve still got a fully professional league going.”