Yesterday, Sunderland announced that their women’s side would revert to being a part time club.
In what is obviously a big hit for women’s football, the club will end it’s three year status of full-time employment. The club is in the Women’s Super League 1 – the highest domestic league for the women’s game in the country.
The women’s team was promoted to the WSL in 2014, and finished 7th last year after a season of ups and downs.
The club has released a statement:
“Having a mix of full-time and part-time players was not working as effectively as the club, and indeed the players, had envisaged.
“With a number of the squad committed to careers or study, full-time football careers were not an option for them.
“A part-time model for players therefore ensures that students and those with careers such as teaching, can continue to be committed members of the first team squad, without having to make a choice between their career and football.”
It appears then, that the decision to shift back to a part-time basis is based on the difficulty of the players having to work two careers at once.
Sunderland ladies also had the highest fall in average attendance last season, with a near-27% drop to an average of 710.
This highlights an issue that has been plaguing women’s football for a long, long time. The pay women receive in football is a mere decimal of the men’s game, but we won’t get into the assumed reasons why. That’s been disputed enough.
It does seem like a fairly innocent decision, but I am one of the many wondering why Sunderland’s owners can’t diverge some funds over from the men’s side to at least support the women’s game. Even though it’s growing, it could be supported so much better.
Unfortunately however, it seems business talks.