LETTERS: Doncaster Belles must take urgent action to avoid decline

Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle
Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle

It was disappointing to learn of Gordon Staniforth’s resignation after one season as the Belles’ Head Coach because, as a result of failing to achieve promotion by the narrowest of margins, the FA has reduced their funding by 50 per cent.

Staniforth had built well on what John Buckley had achieved before him and it seemed clear that the players had bought into what he was trying to do.

The further the season went the more assured the players appeared to be and the 9-0 win in the final match, admittedly against the bottom team, was no more than their play had deserved.

They had been the only team to beat Sunderland, the title winners, and with a little more steadiness in front of goal in the earlier match against the same opponents at the Keepmoat Stadium would have achieved the double.

There is a great danger that unless a proper funding structure can be put in place the club could go into decline and slide down the leagues, and better players could drift to other clubs.

Given the Belles’ history and place in the modern women’s game this would be a great tragedy.

Before a recent Belles home match the younger girls in the age group squads paraded the silverware they had won during the season and it was most impressive. I counted at least 20 cups.

The age group set-up is most impressive and it is supported by a veritable explosion of girls’ football teams around the district.

Furthermore, thanks to the efforts of a small but loyal band of supporters, a Supporters Club has just been formed.

This is not the time for the Doncaster Belles, the spear point of this upsurge, to be allowed to go into decline.

I think therefore that the Belles board need urgently to get their heads together with existing sponsors and the Rovers’ main board to plot a way forward to ensure that the women’s club remains competitive and capable of mounting a promotion challenge next season.

New additional sponsors need to be identified and brought on board. We are not talking about the huge sums needed to support a men’s team.

There is a precedent available within the Club Doncaster set-up in the way Carl Hall resurrected the Dons from the brink of extinction and within a very short space of time put them in a position of having a realistic chance of achieving a place in the Super League.

There is an urgency in this in that every effort should be made to persuade Gordon Staniforth to back track on his decision to resign.

The improvements he has instituted behind the scenes must not be allowed to disappear.

Also the public of Doncaster need to do their bit by turning up at matches.

The season runs through the better months of the year so there is no need to turn out on a cold January afternoon.

If every girl involved in football in and around the town were to bring along at least one parent and perhaps the odd uncle or aunt there would be an amazing atmosphere in the stadium.

There was an attendance of 1,100 for the away match with Sunderland last season and the first match the Belles played in the Keepmoat Stadium, against Leeds United ladies, attracted about 2,000.

How good would it be to match those levels of support?

John Molloy, Town Moor

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