Yeovil & Bristol Retain Top Flight Status & Brighton Step Up

Today’s announcement by The FA did not hold too many surprises but it was pleasing to see the hard work put into bids being recognised. That applies particularly to two successful applicants, that do not have the same level of resources behind them in the shape of Premier League or Championship level male clubs, being offered the opportunity to play Tier 1 professional football.

Yeovil Town – a community club that had to ask its community to support their bid – were understandably delighted at the news, releasing this statement to also take the opportunity to thank all that backed them:

Yeovil Town Ladies FC are delighted to announce that the FA have accepted their application to become a Tier 1 club. 
Following considerable hard work from all departments, an application was submitted that allowed Yeovil Town Ladies FC to fulfil the FA’s criteria for Tier 1 status. 
The criteria meant that the club had to put plans into place, that were expected to take 2-3 years, in 2 months. 
The club are delighted to have achieved this status but the hard work continues now as the club put this plan into action and are calling on your support in maintaining this status. 
The club would like to extend their gratitude to all current partners: business, education, charity and others, for their support in this application and we look forward to growing this community further in the coming months and years. 
Finally, a special mention must go to the YTLFC faithful. The club’s mantra, Achieve By Unity, has really been put into practice this season and this will form the foundation for the club’s future. 
More details will follow about initiatives and plans that are incorporated into the application in due course. 
Thank you. 
Yeovil & Bristol players shake hands. Photo: Jamie McPhilimey for FA

Another success story from the South West, comes in the shape of Bristol City and the collaborative efforts of all at the women’s club, the men’s club and particularly Bristol Sport. They had this to say about their positive news:

With the backing of Bristol Sport, the club submitted an application outlining its ambition to maintain the progression it has made over the last two years on and off the pitch.

Bristol City Women head coach Willie Kirk commented on the outcome of the application: “We have been training full-time for two years now and the progression of the team’s performances is clear to see.

“So far this season, we have shown we can compete with the best teams in the country on the pitch and I only see us going from strength to strength in the future.”

Bristol City Women general manager Kathryn Pacey arrived at the club in February and believes building a solid infrastructure off the pitch has contributed to success on it.

Pacey commented: “The club has been continuously trying to progress off the pitch by building a solid infrastructure to support the on-pitch activities for some time now.

“A focus on staff recruitment and increasing the club’s profile commercially has ensured that we have continued to develop and progress and we are looking forward to continuing that progression this season and beyond.”

Mark Ashton, Bristol City FC chief executive added: “It is great news that our Bristol City Women have been granted a conditional Tier One licence for the inaugural 2018/19 season.

The restructuring of the top tier of women’s football is another step in the development of the women’s game in this country. The fact that the Vixens have been granted a conditional license is an endorsement of the professional structure that is already in place here in Bristol.

I look forward to seeing how the league progresses.”

Brighton Players celebrating. Photo: Kate Green for FA

The other big story, of course, is the ambition and vision of Brighton & Hove Albion has been given a seal of approval as they are offered the opportunity to again compete at the elite level of the women’s game. Understandably, all at the club are very excited and it will be intriguing to see former England manager Hope Powell managing a side in the top flight too. Brighton (who will play home games at Crawley Town) released this statement with comment from Brighton CEO Paul Barber, Powell and the club’s chair & director, Michelle Walder:

Brighton & Hove Albion has announced that the club’s application for Tier One status for the 2018/19 season has been accepted, after The FA revealed plans to restructure the highest two tiers of the women’s football pyramid back in September.

The club went through a vigorous application process, and committed to meeting The FA’s key criteria of full-time professional players receiving a minimum of 16 hours of contact time per week, and ensuring they receive the necessary support required at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

As a consequence of the club’s successful application, a deal has now been agreed in principle to host women’s first-team matches at the Stadium in Crawley from the 2018-19 season.

Albion chief executive Paul Barber said, “This is absolutely fantastic news, and is testament to the hard work from everyone at the club in ensuring we had the best-possible application to present to The FA.

“We have always wanted to achieve equal status for women’s and girls’ football at the club, and acquiring Tier One status will now enable us to make this a reality.

“Our strong commitment to women’s and girls’ football starts at the top of our club through chairman, Tony Bloom, and it will be very exciting to see what the future holds for the women’s and girls’ game at Brighton.”

Women’s first-team manager Hope Powell said, “I am overjoyed with the announcement, as this will allow the club to realise its aim of playing at the very highest level.

“This is also wonderful news for the players, especially those coming through the RTC and academy, who now have a pathway towards playing professional football.

“I have previously said that achieving Tier One status is the next logical step for us in our long-term plan, and I would like to thank everyone inside and outside of the club for their support.”

Women’s chair and club director Michelle Walder, added, “This is a very proud day for me as chair of the women’s board.

“Our commitment to women’s and girls’ football is outstanding, and it will very exciting to see the club grow on and off the pitch in the coming years.

“I cannot thank everyone enough for all their support.”

In confirming today’s news, the club also publicly thanked a number of key stakeholders in the application process, including, Crawley Town FC, Albion in the Community, Sussex County FA, Worthing College and both the University of Brighton and University of Chichester.


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