Liverpool, with just one win and six points to show from their 14 league games before football’s suspension, has been relegated from the top flight of women’s football in England for the first time since the Women Soccer League was established in 2011.
It is ironic that while the men’s side stand on the brink of the title, their female counterparts at Anfield finished the curtailed season bottom of the WSL and facing an exodus of their best players
A founding member of the league, the Reds were crowned champions in 2013 and 2014 with a team that featured the likes of Lucy Bronze and Fara Williams.
A statement released immediately after the WSL decision was announced said
“Liverpool FC is disappointed by today’s decision on how the 2019-20 Women’s Super League season has been concluded, which will see the Reds relegated to the Championship,” “The Covid-19 pandemic has presented huge, ongoing challenges around the world, the majority far more important than football. The focus of our women’s team and staff since the beginning of the crisis was to be ready to return to WSL play when it was safe and proper to do so.
“We believe we would have been able to meet all operational requirements but a return to play was deemed impractical.”
Liverpool would be replaced in the WSL for 2020-21 by Aston Villa, who were unbeaten and six points clear at the top of the Women’s Championship when football was suspended, having won 13 of their 14 league fixtures.
Dissecting the reason for the embarrassing strings of losses that sent the team into relegated analysts said though the team have kept defeats narrow, they struggled to score.
Another serious factor that affected Liverpool women was mass exodus of players especially in the last one or two months of the season. In the weeks leading up to the FA decision to relegate side, the player exodus began.
The striker Courtney Sweetman-Kirk said it was “time for a change and a new environment that challenges me as a player and a person. Can’t wait to have a ball at my feet, a smile on my face and be excited to train everyday”. The goalkeeper Fran Kitching described the season as the “most challenging” she has had to date. She added: “I can’t wait to be enjoying the game I love again and being truly happy. I am excited to start my next chapter and also enjoy an environment which tests both players and people in the right way and allows them to thrive.”
The Scotland international Christie Murray said she was looking forward to being “in an environment that challenges me, both as a person and as a footballer, and most importantly, to be able to enjoy what I love again.”
However many soccer analysts feel the real blame lies at the feet of disinterested owners who have allowed their women’s team to implode while their men’s team thrives.
Even with this disappointment, many feel the mess of the women’s team is unlikely to tarnish the first shiny Premier League trophy the men’s team is poised to pick up after waiting for 30 years.