Stoney has said things have to change
07 November 2020

Manchester United manager Casey Stoney hits out at decision to close down girls’ academies during lockdown, but not the boys

The Government’s stance on ruling girls academies as non-elite has been criticised by Manchester United manager Casey Stoney.

Girls academies can’t continue to train or compete during lockdown though boys academies can, even if they’re at the same club. 

Casey said: "I class our regional talent club and academy as 'elite', because they're at Manchester United. They're training to become professional players, just like the boys are, but unfortunately it's not seen that way in terms of governance.

"That's one of the things that has got to change. It's really disappointing, but it's the classification of the academies. 

"Legally we can't contract a player until they're 18 in the women's game, but then they have to be classed as grassroots until they're on a contract, so that in itself is a conflict."

Stoney has brought two academy players, who are over 18, to the senior bubble so they can continue to train during lockdown.

Her side, who take on Arsenal in the Women’s Super League on Sunday, added the decision is a ‘shame’ as young people need their football.

"Unfortunately it's not my decision. Everyone is trying to make sure this R rate goes down and unfortunately this is a measure the Government have taken," she added.

"Anyone under 18 at our club at the moment has been shut down. It's a real shame because young people need it, especially during this time.

"I personally can't understand it. I've got three children. My [eldest] two play grassroots football. They can now go and sit in a classroom eight hours a day, but can't go to a park and play outdoors."

This is not the first decision during this lockdown that puts men’s football at an advantage. The Women’s FA Cup is being postponed for the next month as non-elite clubs are taking part but the men’s competition is allowed to continue.

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston has now said the Government and the Football Association are trying to find a solution for the women’s tournament to continue.

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