Sunderland AFC Ladies' WSL snub set to be raised in Parliament

The plight of Sunderland AFC Ladies will be taken to Parliament as Black Cats-supporting MPs battle to back its future.

Thursday, 31st May 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 31st May 2018, 1:07 pm
Easington MP Grahame Morris is raising the SAFC Ladies' plight in Parliament.

Easington MP Grahame Morris is to turn to the city’s MPs and other fans in the House of Commons as he lobbies the Football Association for a rethink on its decision to reject the side from the top two tiers of the revamped Women’s Super League (WSL).

Baroness Sue Campbell, head of women’s football at the FA, said the decision followed an application process, and was also down to the fact the team were not backed by their male counterparts.

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Mr Morris 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”.

It notes the squad has not been supported by the men’s team, but says the FA should acknowledge its new owners aStewart Donald and his community and fan-focused approach.

Mr Donald has already confirmed he will investigate the SAFC Ladies’ set-up, while the club have until Monday, June 11, to appeal the decision.

The EDM adds: “Sunderland Ladies should not be penalised for the previous mismanagement of Sunderland Football Club and asks the FA to consult with the new owners.”

Sunderland AFC Ladies have been denied the chance to play against top teams like Manchester City.

The motion highlights the side’s contribution to the national team, producing players including Steph Houghton, from South Hetton, who has captained her country and now plays for Manchester City’ Ladies, and Lucy Bronze, a Champions League winner with Lyon and BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2018.

Mr Morris said: “I think it is really important for the community and I think as role models and inspirations.

“I know they were moved from Hetton, and of course there’s the issue of not training at the academy, but that was down to Ellis Short and his management.

“But Sunderland AFC also has the Foundation of Light, and it is a community club.
“I certainly don’t support it because of its success on the pitch, but because it’s something more than that and this team is an important complement to that.

England Women's captain Stephanie Houghton is one of several internationals who started her career with SAFC Ladies.

“I think the punishment the Ladies has been given is completely disproportionate. It is down to finances why they are being dropped down two leagues, and it’s shown it has turned out half a dozen or so England internationals.
“It just seems a draconian punishment.”

In addition to Wearside MPs Julie Elliott, Sharon Hodgson and Bridget Phillipson, Mr Morris is also contacting Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn and fellow Sunderland supporters Jonathan Reynolds, who represents Stalybridge, and Ian Lucas, who represents Wrexham, to request their backing.

They and other members will be invited to sign the EDM, which is likely to be put to Parliament on Monday.

Lucy Bronze, who has just won the Champions League with Lyon, is another former Lady Black Cat.