With the season getting closer day by day, teams are strengthening their squad for the new campaign. Josh Bunting discusses all the big news in Women’s football during the last 7 days.
England Women Won’t Play In 2021 SheBelieves Cup
England Women will not play in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup in the USA the Football Association has confirmed.
England have played in the tournament every year since it was formed in 2016 but due to difficulties with the coronavirus situation will not be taking part this coming year. Technical factors and travel logistics during a tight international window were also considered when making the decision, the FA explained.
In a statement, the FA said: “The clear focus for our technical team will be to deliver an international fixture programme which provides the best possible performance outcomes for the Lionesses as we begin a crucial three-year period building to the home Uefa European Championship in 2022 and Fifa Women’s World Cup in 2023.”
“Our withdrawal from the competition in 2021 is based on existing uncertainties around the future trend of the Covid-19 pandemic, together with a detailed review of our technical priorities for England Women.”
The Lionesses’ autumn fixtures will be announced in due course
Beth England Signs New Four Year Chelsea Deal
Beth England has committed her long-term future to Chelsea Women as she has signed a new four-year contract until 2024 the club announced on Wednesday afternoon.
England who scored 14 Women’s Super League goals for the Blues in 2019-20 as they won the title ended the campaign as the club’s top goalscorer. She also netted twice in February’s Continental Cup final against Arsenal as Emma Hayes’s side won 2-1 in Nottingham.
The striker started all 15 league games playing 1322 and was only behind Arsenal striker Vivianne Miedema in the goalscoring charts.
England also registered 3 assists to her name creating 94 chances in total for her teammates.
“It means a lot to me, especially being at such a great club that Chelsea is she told the club website ‘I’ve spent a lot of time here already, so being able to extend that and hopefully kick on with what I’ve already achieved at this club is exciting”.
England also won the player of the season award and continued by saying ” That was a bit of a surreal moment about receiving the Player of the Season honour. ‘I’ve worked so hard over the years and to finally get my efforts recognised was a big moment for me and for my family to see that.
‘There has been some tough competition this year, there has been a lot of great performers so it was an honour to receive that award.
“One of the standouts for me was my first goal at Stamford Bridge, that meant a lot to me because it was the opening day in front of such a big crowd. But the Continental Cup game was a phenomenal game and getting the league title was a big moment for us”
“International wise nothing can beat playing for your country, getting that call-up and putting the shirt on. And then my first England goal, it was such a proud day for me and something I’ll take with me forever. I’ve got my first silverware in the bank with the Conti Cup and the league so I’m now hoping to get many more trophies at this club and obviously the Champions League is one that we’re really pushing for”.
“I’m excited we’re back in it, I’m definitely going for my first Champions League goal as I’ve not had one of them yet. Hopefully this is going to be the year that we do bring that trophy home”.
General manager Paul Green added: ‘We’re delighted to have extended Beth’s contract, as she has been outstanding in the last 18 months, playing a big part in the team’s success.
“We feel that she is now coming in to her peak as a player and look forward to seeing how she continues to develop for both club and country in the upcoming years”.
The FA has targeted the weekend of September 5-6 as the date for the start of the 2020-21 WSL season.
Aston Villa Sign Stine Larsen
Aston Villa have signed Denmark striker Stine Larsen from French side FC Fleury 91.
Larsen, who has 45 international caps to her name becomes the seventh signing of the summer, linking up with Gemma Davies’ squad ahead of the new Barclays Women’s Super League season.
Davies told the club website “Stine is a young Danish forward who has represented Denmark at all age groups and major tournaments.
“Stine is a traditional number nine who likes to operate inside the 18-yard box. She has an eye for goal and is dominant both aerially and with her feet”.
“We are yet to see the best from Stine and we are all so excited to see how she continues to develop in a claret & blue shirt!”
“It’s good to finally be here” said the 24-year-old striker. “It really is great. It’s good to be part of this journey they’re on. I can’t wait to contribute”.
“I played in Denmark for 11 years for Brondby where we achieved a lot. We won championships and cups and we reached the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
Looking ahead, Larsen explains her view of the Women’s Super League as the toughest in the world, embracing the challenges that lie ahead.
“The English league is very competitive. The best teams are in France but here, it seems like every team is good. It’s very exciting.”
Ramona Petzelberger Joins Villa
Aston Villa have signed attacking midfielder Ramona Petzelberger from Frauen Bundesliga side SGS Essen.
For former German youth international Petzelberger it will be the first move outside her country, having previously played for SG Wattenscheid 09, SC 07 Bad Neuenahr and Bayer Leverkusen.
Head coach Gemma Davies said “I am delighted that we have signed Ramona, with a huge amount of experience in the German Bundesliga.
“She is a very technical player, who likes to play between the lines and make key passes that unlocks defences.
“She is exceptionally fit and can operate box-to-box with ease.
“I am excited by what Ramona will bring to our team.”
Tessel Middag Makes Italian Move
Tessel Middag has completed a move from West Ham United to Serie A side Fiorentina.
Middag who is from the Netherlands joined West Ham from Manchester City but she missed the 2018/19 campaign due to injury yet featured in 19 matches over the course of the 2019-20 including 13 in the Barclays FA WSL starting in nine of those league matches.
Middag started at ADO Den Haag before moving to Ajax She made 94 appearances for the Amsterdam club, during which she scored 15 goals and won the KNVB Women’s Cup in 2011.
She also was part of the Netherlands squad in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The midfielder follows Louise Quinn to Italy after she was confirmed as part of the Viola family on Wednesday afternoon.
On signing for the club she said in a short message on the clubs social media channels “New adventure in a beautiful historical city, Very happy to be part of this great club, Forza Viola”
Fiorentina finished 2nd in Serie A in 2019-20 as it was ended with immediate effect behind eventual champions Juventus who secured back to back titles.
West Ham To Move Stadium
West Ham United Women have announced they are moving stadium for the 2020-21 campaign.
They will play their home Women’s Super League fixtures at Dagenham & Redbridge’s Chigwell Construction Stadium. It follows the unveiling of the state-of-the-art training base at Chadwell Heath earlier this month.
Following last season’s record-breaking first Barclays FA WSL match played at London Stadium, combined with continued unwavering support from fans and huge growth in home attendances, West Ham are looking to build on that success for next season.
The move will enable attendances to increase further and present even more supporters with the opportunity to watch their team.
Jack Sullivan, women’s team managing director told Whufc.com “The move to Chigwell Construction Stadium is yet another great step in the growth of our women’s team.
“Looking forward to the season ahead, I can’t wait to see the local community getting behind the team and turning out in full force to support fill the stands in our new home!
“The demand to see women’s football has never been greater and our new matchday home will allow even more of our loyal fans to watch our games live, as well as enjoy an even better matchday experience at this impressive stadium. As we strive to become a leading team on the pitch, our continued progress will help our West Ham United women’s team to be a leading figure off the pitch”.
Captain Gilly Flaherty went on to explain “The team and I are so excited to play our first game in this fantastic stadium. Without a doubt, this new matchday experience will inspire us to continue to develop and excel, and we can’t wait to have fans there with us, as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Peter B. Freund, Executive Chairman of Dagenham & Redbridge FC added “As we continue to invest in ground improvements at the Chigwell Construction Stadium for the Daggers, we are thrilled to announce that we now will also become the new home of the West Ham United women’s team as well. The game of football, especially the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and women’s leagues around the world, continues to grow at a rapid pace and we see this as a tremendous opportunity to welcome more fans to Victoria Road”.
They could play their first match at the Stadium on the weekend of September 5-6 as the FA target those dates for the start of the 2020-21 WSL season.
Louise Quinn Pens Fiorentina Contract
Louise Quinn has signed for Italian side Fiorentina after leaving Arsenal last month.
The Republic of Ireland defender joined the Gunners in 2017 from Notts County and helped them win the Women’s Super League title in 2019 and the Continental Cup in 2018.
Quinn made 76 appearances and scored seven goals for the club, including the winner in the 2018 FA Cup Semi-final against Everton.
During the WSL title-winning season Quinn played 19 of the 20 league games and had the second best pass accuracy from any outfield player who had played 90 minutes.
However, due to the signing of Jennifer Beattie she found game time hard to come by in 2019/20 playing just six games and starting just three of those.
She was announced by the Serie A side on Wednesday afternoon as she embarks on a new journey. Quinn will play in the heart of the Viola defence alongside fellow former Gunner Janni Arnth, who joined the club last summer.
In a short video message to the Fiorentina fans Quinn said “I’m very happy to be here, can’t wait to be on the pitch, Forza Viola”.
Arsenal played Fiorentina in the Champions League in September, defeating them 6-0 on aggregate winning 4-0 in Florence and 2-0 at Meadow Park.
Meanwhile, Quinn and Arsenal’s Katie McCabe have been nominated for the Republic of Ireland senior women’s player of the year award.
Sheffield United Bring In Mel Johnson
Sheffield United have added striker Mel Johnson to their ranks ahead of the new FA Women’s Championship season.
Johnson was the top scorer for Aston Villa last season as they beat the Blades to promotion to the Women’s Super League on a points-per-game basis.
The signing means the Blades now possess the three top scorers from the 2019-20 FA Women’s Championship season , with Katie Wilkinson and Jade Pennock also hitting double figures.
The striker scored an opening day hat-trick against the Blades and proved to be influential in Villa’s march towards promotion before departing at the end of the campaign.
The forward joined Leicester City after leaving Sheffield FC in 2018, before joining Villa in time for the new season last year. Speaking to the club website Johnson said “I’m excited to be a part of this club,” said the striker. “I’m around some familiar faces and I want to help build on what the team did last season.
“I’m here to work hard on and off the pitch and give my all to the club every game and I believe this is the best decision and the right place to begin a new journey.”
“I have a lot more to give and achieve and I feel I’m surrounded by the right people. The club’s aspirations to succeed are exactly the same as mine, it’s a strong team who work hard for each other. The club has shown interest in me over the past two seasons and have now strengthened the team tremendously since then”.
The aim is back-to-back promotions now,” Sheffield United as a club is determined focussed and pushing for promotion which I’m hoping to achieve with this club. I’m looking forward to the start of the season.”
“I’m looking forward to linking up with Katie and Jade. They’re good players, they create, score and are ruthless in and around the goal. I’m happy to be playing alongside them this season.”
Johnson linked up with her new team mates last week for the team’s initial return to individual Phase One training after a lengthy period away from Shirecliffe and is excited to get her career started at the Blades.
“It has been a long off-season but one that’s been important for the safety of each other. I am enjoying being back on the training pitch and it’s now about being prepared and ready for the season. I have been made to feel very welcome from everyone at the club and I can’t wait to get going.”
Arsenal Women Won’t Have To Quarantine When They Return From The UEFA Women’s Champions League
Arsenal Women won’t have to quarantine when they return from the UEFA Women’s Champions League next month.
Arsenal travel to Spain for their their match with Paris Saint-Germain on 22 August in San Sebastian. The tournament is set to be played in San Sebastian and San Mamés in Bilbao from August 21-30.
Spain has seen a rise in Coronavirus cases as they had over 900 new cases were reported on Friday leading to the new quarantine measures.
The country insisted on Sunday that the latest outbreak of new coronavirus cases was isolated and under control following the UK’s announcement that people arriving from there would be required to quarantine for 14 days
If the virus continues to spread in Spain it will mean there will be no option but to finish the latter stages of the competition at another destination.
A statement read: “UEFA will continue to monitor the situation and reserves the right to reassign any such matches to the venues of the final tournament of the relevant competition should new events occur that would make it impossible to play one or more matches at the original venues,”
“The Government says no change is required to the current regulations around elite athletes, as they will continue competing within their bubbles when abroad. Quarantine rules for the general public were imposed from last Saturday”.
“Hugh Elliott, the UK ambassador in Spain, said Real Madrid players would be “in a bubble to reduce risks” when they travelled to Manchester to take on Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a week on Friday in the Champions League.
“Following a dramatic increase in the virus in Spain, Uefa is open to moving venues for next month’s women’s Champions League.”
It means that the Gunners won’t have to delay their Women’s Super League restart on the weekend of September 4-5th.
Danske Bank Women’s Premiership To Kick Off August 26th
The Danske Bank Women’s Premiership is set to start on Wednesday August 26 the Northern Ireland Football League announced on Tuesday afternoon.
The league was originally set to kick off in April but due to the Coronavirus pandemic was postponed.
However, following a decision from the NIFL Women’s Premiership Management Committee on Monday evening the league will kick off next month. NI Football League Managing Director Andrew Johnston stated, “We are delighted to support the desire of our women’s clubs in a return to competitive football despite the challenges of Covid-19.
“With the recent return of football, clubs have considered the current protocols and government guidance and are committed to exhausting all avenues to ensure a safe 2020 season can be maintained. By working together and with the support of other key stakeholders we are delighted to be planning another exciting campaign.”
Linfield are the current holders of the title and will be gunning for their fifth title in a row when the new campaign gets underway.
Last season’s title race was one of the most thrilling in recent years as it went all the way to the wire with the Blues defeating Derry City on the final day to pip Sion Swifts to the trophy.
The 2020 season will operate under a shortened schedule with six teams battling it out home and away to become champions.
A full fixture list will be released this Friday July 31. NIFL have also confirmed that the Electric Ireland Women’s Academy League will also continue this Autumn.
Tottenham Hotspur Sign New Goalkeeper
Tottenham Hotspur Women have signed goalkeeper Aurora Mikalsen after her contract at fellow Women’s Super League side Manchester United expired.
The 24-year-old shotstopper has penned a contract with the Lilywhites that will run until 2021.
She will wear the number one shirt in north London and will battle it out with Rebecca Spencer to be first choice when the season gets underway in September.
The Norwegian stopper played once for the Red Devils against Leicester City in the Continental Cup as United ran out 11-1 winners.
Mikalsen began her career with Clausenengen but the shot-stopper really established herself at her next club, Kolbotn, after making her debut for them in March 2016.
She has also has 45 caps with Norway’s under age teams and was named in the senior side for the last two Algarve Cups.
Coming to Spurs is an exciting challenge for me and I am really looking forward to the season ahead she told thfc.com.
“There’s a good atmosphere at the Club and I can’t wait to get back out there with my new team-mates.
“I think the qualities I have as a goalkeeper fit well with the way Karen (Hills) and Juan (Amoros) want our playing style to be and I’m hoping I can continue to build my skillset.”
Rachel Williams Signs For Tottenham
Tottenham Hotspur Women have announced that Rachel Williams has joined the Lilywhites.
Williams follows Kerys Harrop to north London from Birmingham City after she turned down a new contract in the Midlands last month.
The 32-year-old has signed a contract with the Club that will run until 2021, with the option to extend for a further year and will wear the number 10 shirt.
The forward had two spells with the Blues from 2011 and 2017, where she made 94 appearances and scored 43 goals, including a goal in the 2012 Women’s FA Cup final which saw City overcome Chelsea in a penalty shoot-out to win the trophy.
She started her career at home club Leicester City before also featuring for Doncaster Rovers Belles, Chelsea and Notts County.
Williams has also won 13 caps for England and represented Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics
Wiliams told the Spurs website on her arrival “I was really impressed with Spurs when I played against them while at Birmingham and after speaking to Karen and Juan, I really do feel this is the right challenge for me in the next stage of my career.
“I think Spurs can be a real threat next season and I want to achieve as much as possible with the team. I have been around in the women’s game for a while now so I have a lot of experience which I am hoping will help the squad to move closer to achieving our goals”.
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Alice Griffiths Extends Charlton Stay
Charlton Athletic Women have announced that Alice Griffiths has signed a new contract at the Addicks ahead of the 2020-21 season.
She is a Welsh senior international after making her debut in 2017 for her country. Griffiths began playing football with local amateur side Llwydcoed in the Aberdare and Rhondda Junior Football League.
At under-16 level, she was the only female player in an otherwise all-boys league and received private tutoring to keep up with schoolwork she missed playing football.
She joined Welsh Premier Women’s Football League side Cyncoed Ladies in 2017 and was named the division’s Young Player of the Year during her first season
In 2018, she joined fellow Welsh Premier side Cardiff Met Ladies along with teammate helping them win a domestic treble, winning the league title, the FAW Women’s Cup and the Welsh Premier Women’s Cup.
She moved to Charlton the following year before the 19-year-old midfielder made 14 appearances for the Addicks last season.
“I’m pleased to be signing for Charlton again,” Griffiths explained to the clubs official website. “I’m happy at the club and confident I have the right people around me to help me develop. Last year was challenging but I’ve learnt from the experience and I’m excited for the season ahead.”
Annabel Johnson Awarded Crystal Palace Women’s Player Of The Year
Annabel Johnson has been awarded the Crystal Palace Women’s player of the year award for the 2019/20. Johnson was a key member for the Eagles as they finished 9th in the FA Women’s Championship.
She impressed so much during her first 13 matches in south London that she signed a new contract in December.
Johnson’s leadership qualities saw her chosen to represent Team GB as a captain at the World University Games in Taipei in 2017.
She has also featured for Leicester City, Coventry City whilst attending Loughborough University for four seasons, winning the Southern Premier League in 2014, Durham and London Bees.
Manager Dean Davenport said ” She is someone who has fantastic footballing qualities along with footballing values. A fantastic leader – not just on the pitch but off of it – and always gives 100% in every game she plays.”
The centre-back back who has taken the captaincy for the incoming season following the departure of Freya Holdaway added: “It’s a great achievement; I’m immensely proud”.
“I’m surprised at the award, especially after the big break in the season – really happy and chuffed with the award”. The season has had its challenges but there have been plenty of positives, too: “It’s my first year at Palace, so I’ve really enjoyed getting back into my football again; very positive environment, great group of girls and a great group of coaches who have welcomed me.
“I’ve settled in super quick. Results-wise on the pitch we are definitely looking to improve on them for next season. But we will set high standards to make jumps up the table.Every time you come down to Bromley it is well-noticed,”
“We love the individual songs you make; the girls talk about it after the game. So please come again next year; we really appreciate it when you’re there and definitely notice when you all turn up in your numbers.”
Watford Ladies Sign Sophie Harris
Watford Ladies have signed goalkeeper Sophie Harris from Brighton and Hove Albion ahead of the new 2020/21 season.
Harris spent last season on loan at FA Women’s Championship club Lewes and has also played for Arsenal, London Bees and Nottingham Forest.
At Arsenal she was part of the squad that won the FA WSL and FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup. The ‘keeper also featured in Champions League squads and has represented England at U20 level.
When Marie Hourihan was injured in a defeat by Manchester City in February 2019, Harris came on as a substitute to make her Women’s Super League debut for Brighton and Hove Albion. Harris was subsequently named the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) Fans’ Player of the Month for February 2019
“It’s a great feeling, I’m very excited to get in and meet all the girls and staff,” Harris told watfordfc.com. “Obviously through this pandemic, I’ve been working hard to keep fit so it will be nice to get back playing football again.”
“I will look to bring my experience to the team, looking back at last season you can tell the team is doing well, so I would like to bring a little bit more to that, and some clean sheets! I think we can look to really kick on and hopefully we can finish what was started last season”.
“I hope my experience from professional football will help the squad, both on and off the pitch. I’d like to think I’m a leader and professional, so I want to bring that to the team and be a positive influence.”
“We’ve got a great squad already and that was shown by how well they did last year. You can see a lot of the players can go on and play at a higher level so it goes to show they enjoy playing for Watford and it’s a great environment to be in. I’m really excited to get started and really push on as a team and have a great season,”.
Hornets head coach Clinton Lancaster expressed his delight at bringing in the new signing as he looks to bolster his squad ahead of the next campaign. “I am delighted to bring Sophie in, it is a huge signing for us and I’m really excited to work with her,”
“The fans can expect to see a confident goalkeeper who leads from the back and is capable of making some exceptional saves. Sophie will hopefully help us keep clean sheets along the way, which could prove vital at the end of the season.”
Crystal Palace Strengthen Their Ranks
Crystal Palace Women have completed the signing of Leigh Nicol from Championship rivals Charlton Athletic. Nicol aged 24 has also represented Millwall Lionesses and picked up their player of the year award in 2017.
She has represented Scotland at every youth level, including being involved in the famous 7-3 and 14-1 Under-19s victories over Italy and Georgia respectively and also captained Glasgow Celtic at youth level.
She then moved to London from Glasgow to secure a place at Arsenal’s prestigious academy where she could continue her education whilst training and playing for Arsenal Ladies’ reserve side. An opportunity to play first team football opened up when former Arsenal Ladies player Jayne Ludlow became manager of then FA WSL 2 club Reading.
Nicol had some success playing first team football for Reading but after one season she left at the beginning of 2015 to join London Bees to get more first team opportunities before her move to Millwall.
On signing for the Eagles she said “Signing for Palace is my proudest moment of my career so far,” Nicol admitted. “After having a year out to focus on myself I never thought this would happen. The club, players and coaches have built an amazing culture and have clear visions to be successful”.
“I’m so excited to be part of this club and have loved every moment so far.”
Manager Dean Davenport went on to say “Having captained Celtic at Under-15s, 17s and reserve team level, we’ve added another vocal presence to our squad”.
“With Leigh knowing what this league is all about having played for London Bees, Millwall Lionesses and Charlton last season, I have no doubt she will settle in quickly – this is another exciting signing for the season ahead.”
Meanwhile Bianca Baptiste, Ashleigh Goddard and Andria Georgiou signing new contracts with the south London side. Georgiou made 18 appearances last season, is heading into her third season with the Eagles whilst Baptiste impressed in her debut campaign.
Although strengthening with new additions is key to the aims of the club, it’s more important to maintain the core group we have here already,” Davenport said.
“Andria has become a key player for us and Bianca and Ashleigh hit the ground running last season; I’m delighted all three have agreed to continue their journey with us.”
Last season’s top scorer, Goddard, is looking forward to the new season ahead as she explained “I’m very proud to be at Palace for another year; I’m excited for the club’s ambitions and look forward to being a part of it,” the midfielder said upon signing on the dotted line. “We have a great group of girls, motivation is high and the fans are awesome!”
Brighton sign South Korean Star
Brighton & Hove Albion Women have signed Manchester City striker Lee Geum-min on a season-long loan deal. The South Korea international, 26, joined Women’s Super League side City last August on a two-year contract.
She made eight appearances in all competitions last season, scoring once against Birmingham City. “We’re delighted to bring Lee to the club, it’s a real coup for us to sign a player of her quality and experience,” Albion head coach Hope Powell said.
Lee has scored 16 goals in more than 50 appearances at senior level for her country and featured at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Article by Josh Bunting – @Buntingfootball