Doncaster Belles: Arsenal’s Akers backs the Belles

Doncaster Rovers Belles celebrate Beth England's opener against Everton. Picture: Chris Brunskill via Getty Images.
Doncaster Rovers Belles celebrate Beth England's opener against Everton. Picture: Chris Brunskill via Getty Images.

Arsenal stalwart Vic Akers has called the FA’s decision to relegate Doncaster Rovers Belles “a joke” and “unjust”.

Following an application process for an expanding Women’s Super League (WSL) in 2014, Belles have been ultimately replaced by Manchester City LFC with the Doncaster club facing life in WSL2.

However, well-respected figure in the men’s and women’s game Akers has come forward to back Belles’ plight to be reinstated into the top flight next season.

“Donny have the support of all the league’s current clubs,” said Arsenal’s general manager.

“I’ve spoken to all seven and we all feel what the FA has done is unjust - in my opinion it’s morally scandalous.”

The new-look two-tiered WSL will see eight teams in WSL1 and ten in WSL2 with Belles’ nearest opponents in travel terms being Aston Villa LFC.

Akers, who along with Birmingham City chairman Steve Shipway represents the clubs on the WSL committee, said: “When they made their announcement, Donny had played only one match of the [current] season.

“To relegate them after 90 minutes is a joke - it’s kicking them out.

“If you’re talking about relegation then you should also talk about promotion, and Manchester City didn’t win the Premier League [the level below the WSL], they finished fourth.

“Sunderland won it for the third year in a row and yet they’ll be in the WSL’s second division next year. It seems to me it’s more about money than football.”

Finance is one of several criteria, along with facilities and youth structure for the FA’s WSL 2014 selection process.

Akers, who in 1987 founded the Arsenal women’s team and as manager led them to prominence, added: “When we started, Donny were the premier women’s team in the country. What’s happening to them now is unjust.”

The FA is refusing to comment until the process is complete - which is likely to be concluded next month.

A spokesman told the Free Press that “as stated on numerous occassions”, the FA would not be commenting on individual bids.

Belles, who have appealed against the decision, are the only ever-presents in the top flight since the national league system was formed in 1991 - a move the Doncaster club were founding members of.

What do you think of the Belles’ relegation?

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