08 January 2021

West Ham captain Gilly Flaherty says WSL players who went to Dubai should apologise for postponements

West Ham captain Gilly Flaherty has hit out at the players from two WSL clubs whose trips to Dubai have resulted in the postponement of fixtures and called on them to apologise.

This weekend’s games between Arsenal and Aston Villa and Manchester City against West Ham were both called off after five players from Arsenal and City returned a positive coronavirus result.

Flaherty said: "Hopefully the girls who are involved will do the decent thing and come out and apologise. As much as the growth of the women's game is brilliant now we are able to be full-time professionals and inspire the younger generation, I really don't like the arrogance that the money and wages have brought into it.

"Players need to remain humble and remember how quickly it can change."

Flaherty doesn’t like the ‘arrogance’ that has come into the women’s game

(PA Archive)

The decision to postpone the fixtures has caused uproar with many accusing the Football Association of favouring the bigger clubs, as requests by clubs lower down the league for postponements in similar circumstances have been turned down.

Reading’s Emma Mitchell wrote on Twitter: "We see you FA. Different rules for different teams."

And Birmingham City manager Carla Ward said: "We are running really thin but if the FA say we have to play the game, we will go and play the game. 

"We went to Leicester and had 12 players and 13 against Aston Villa - we requested for that game to be postponed as we had two players who hadn't kicked a ball for a week and we were told ‘no’.

"There needs to be a rule in place that fits all. We can't talk about a rule for Covid when Arsenal only have one positive. I think it needs looking at. The welfare of players needs to be at the forefront."

Kirk has shared his frustration

(NurPhoto/PA Images)

Everton boss Willie Kirk has also criticised the FA for calling off the games.

He said: “There was probably more important things to focus on during that period than going on holiday to Dubai.”

Bristol City manager Tanya Oxtoby said: "I’m not best pleased. We’ve asked for clarification from the FA around the 14 player rule and what that looks like, because we were given 90 minutes to find our players before we had to travel up to Manchester City [in November]. 

"The timing of the [FA's Thursday] announcement and the amount of time clubs would have had to find 14 players from academies, have them registered and tested probably is the bit we’re looking for clarification on."

The FA haven’t expanded on their decision to postpone the fixtures but the director of women’s football Dame Sue Campbell has said she was ‘disappointed’ about the situation.

"It is [the club's] players and it's up to them to deal with it in the way they see best fit. I'm really keen that we don't interfere in what is essentially a club issue.

"Do I feel good about it from a personal point of view, as director of women's football? No I don't. It's disappointing.

“When you see the pressures that everybody is under - whether that is the NHS or just people really struggling with mental wellness at home - I think it's important that every single one of us acts as a role model.”

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