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MP demands FA rethink after Sunderland Ladies’ side demoted from Women’s Super League

Sunderland Ladies pictured during a game against Yeovil Ladies at Mariners Park, Jarrow.
Sunderland Ladies pictured during a game against Yeovil Ladies at Mariners Park, Jarrow.

An MP has hit back at the Football Association’s explanation for denying Sunderland Ladies a place in the top flight of the game.

Easington MP Grahame Morris has been gathering support from fellow Sunderland fans as he calls for a fresh look at the move to demote the team beneath the upper two tiers of the revamped Women’s Super League (WSL).

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington.

Grahame Morris, MP for Easington.

He has drawn up an Early Day Motion (EDM) to “express shock and anger at the decision of the Football Association to deny Sunderland Ladies their rightful place in the top tier of English football”.

The motion also notes the squad has not been supported by the men’s team, but says the FA should acknowledge the club’s new owner Stewart Donald and his community and fan-focused approach.

Now he has responded to a letter from Baroness Sue Campbell, director of women’s football at the FA, which has explained how Sunderland did not apply for a WSL licence until it was opened to all clubs.

It said it was made clear the outcome would be based on meeting “key minimum criteria and not the results of their 2017/18 season.”

The Women’s Super League should be a sporting competition not an accountancy competition.

Grahame Morris

The FA insisted that was to ensure offers the best support for professional and semi-professional players and attract in more fans and commercial investment through highly competitive football.

But Mr Morris has said the side is being penalised for the financial shortcomings of the club last season, as well as the lack of support the team had under its former owners.

He said: “I am astounded by the FA’s response.

“The Women’s Super League should be a sporting competition not an accountancy competition.

“It is disgraceful that the organisation tasked with governing the game does not believe a team’s participation should be based upon their results.

“Sunderland Ladies have given so much to our national game and I do not believe the Regional Talent Club network is a sufficient replacement for a top tier women’s football team.

“I am appalled that if Sunderland’s appeal is not successful, there will be no top-flight women’s team North of Manchester.

“The FA need to make a commitment to regional football in the North East and stop treating our region as a poor relation.

“If the FA believe performance on the pitch shouldn’t determine league position, I hope they will apply the same system to the men’s game.

“Sunderland are now debt free and have a management team focused on a sustainable community based model.

“Does this mean Sunderland can be elevated to the Premier League if the FA believe results do not matter?

“I hope the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee will look at the shoddy mismanagement of the FA and consider whether they are a fit and proper organisation to govern English football and the women’s game.”