Kelly Smith: Ex-England striker says women’s game ‘pushed aside’ by early end to season

Kelly Smith won 117 England caps and played for Great Britain at London 2012

Former England striker Kelly Smith says women’s football has been “pushed aside” after the domestic season was brought to an early end.

The Women’s Super League and Championship were formally ended on 25 May because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And Chelsea were crowned WSL champions on a points-per-game ratio last week, with Liverpool relegated.

No extra funding for coronavirus testing was made available to the WSL in order to extend their season.

By contrast, the men’s Premier League has spent a reported £4m on testing in order to be able to complete their campaign.

“It seems to always happen that the women get pushed aside a bit,” 41-year-old Smith said.

“I was hearing figures of £3m and upwards for testing and putting procedures in place just to get back into training.

“I would have preferred they had would have gone down the route of putting the money in and making it more of a level playing field with the men.”

The decision to end the WSL and Championship brought to an end all women’s football for the 2019-20 season, with the third-tier Women’s National League and regional leagues below being cancelled earlier this year amid the coronavirus crisis.

‘Injustice’ for Liverpool

The top two tiers are planning to start the 2020-21 season on 5-6 September now that the final placings for this season have been confirmed, with Aston Villa promoted to replace Liverpool in the top flight.

Smith continued: “I do feel an injustice for Liverpool being relegated, because they would have felt like they could have got out of that situation at the bottom of the league with about eight games to go.

“I also feel sorry for Arsenal because they missed out on a Champions League spot. It’s a sad way to end the season and certain clubs are going to be hurting because of that.

“I’m sure Chelsea would have preferred the season to be finished and be called outright champions rather than it being just given to you like that because you were the best team at that point in time.”

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