With the financial ramifications of coronavirus looming large over several grassroots and women’s football clubs, Derby County Football Club Women manager Sam Griffiths is unsure on the futures of her top players heading into the new campaign, reports SAM ALLEN (Uni of Derby Football Journalist.)
With The FA ruling that all men’s Non-League and women’s divisions below the FA Women’s Championship would be expunged for 2019/20 season, it has brought mass uncertainty for clubs such as Derby County Football Club Women.
Despite a strong finish to their campaign, losing only one of their last seven games, the Ewe Rams face a battle to hold onto their best players, including top goalscorer Hannah Keryakoplis and Ellie Gilliatt, who scored 36 goals between them in the last season.
Griffiths remained coy on the matter, as she said: “I would’ve backed the club a couple of months ago [to keep all their players], but now it will all come down to how financially stable we are going forwards and what we are able to offer [in wages].”
The Derby manager was honest however in recognising the pulling power that the likes of Leicester City and Nottingham Forest possess: “Leicester are a league above and Forest have pushed things to a new level recently [employing full-time staff].
“They have already come in for a couple of our players, which I am sure they will do again [in the summer].
“It’s something that [Derby County Football Club Women] will never compete with, to be honest, but I’d like to think that we will keep the majority of the players.”
Griffiths’ comments were reiterated by the club’s CEO Duncan Gibb: “I think the biggest challenge for Sam is going to be retaining the players she wants and obviously adding to that group, but knowing her capabilities I have got every confidence that she will be able to do that.”
Despite concerns over transfers, Gibb was full of praise for what the 34-year-old has already achieved since taking over the club last season:
“From the moment she first walked into the dressing room, Sam has brought professionalism and has taken things to another level […] I am delighted with what has happened [at the club].”
Griffiths guided Derby to third in the FA Women’s National League Northern Section last season, which was their best-ever finish, with the team sat one better than that in second this campaign before the expungement of the league.