Often Partisan

Blues Ladies: Youth v Commercialisation

Last season was a tough one for Blues Ladies. It was always going to be difficult to replicate the form that saw them close to winning the title in 2014 and with so much money in the game now it does seem that it’s more difficult for David Parker’s team to compete; with the loss of keeper Becky Spencer and Karen Carney it’s going to be even more so this season.

I’m of the personal belief that women’s football is at a critical juncture in its current incarnation as the WSL. There has been a lot of investment from men’s teams in some of the newer forces such as Manchester City – something a cynic might point out is a handy dodge against Financial Fair Play rules. For the WSL to push forward there has got to be a certain commercialisation of the game; the problem being is how much that commercialisation damages newer teams without access to huge pots of money from an established men’s team.

Blues manager David Parker made a statement on Friday that as Blues Ladies cannot compete pound for pound with the big hitters in the division they would continue to invest in youth development and bringing talent through the ranks. Any long-time follower of the Ladies team will tell you that this is nothing new; Blues have a good reputation for bringing through players who go on to make international honours such as the aforementioned Carney, Laura Bassett and Eni Aluko. However, I think it’s an important statement to make because if the Ladies game is to thrive further it’s important that any growth in the game is sustainable.

For Blues that means continued investment in their centre of excellence and continued development of pathways for younger players into the first team. In recent years I’ve seen players like Jess Carter and Coral-Jade Haines establish themselves in the team; Sophie Baggaley will no doubt be making the step up following the departure of Spencer while the highly rated Chloe Peplow signed her first professional contract this weekend. I’m of the understanding that this is a trend that will be continuing during the run up to the new season.

I see the problems Blues Ladies are facing as a microcosm of what is happening in the men’s game. Rampant commercialisation of the Premier League has made it necessary for clubs to spend continuously to even stand still; failure at the top can lead to huge unserviceable debts such as the ones Bolton Wanderers are currently facing while those clubs who do develop players well find themselves picked apart in the manner Southampton did a couple of seasons ago. As long as the TV companies are willing to pay the money for the rights it will continue but I do wonder when that bubble will pop. The amounts are much smaller in the WSL – but history is littered with teams where an owner has got bored, pulled the plug and completely killed a team – ask Fulham Women.

I’m intrigued as to how well Blues Ladies will do this season with this avowed philosophy of sticking with youth. Bristol Academy Women, while linked to Bristol City utilised their association with the Bristol Academy of Sport to try something similar but on relegation at the end of last season dropped the pretence and became Bristol City Women. It’s not an easy path Blues Ladies have chosen but I believe for the future of the sport it’s the right one.

Blues Ladies - sponsored by Hollywood Monster

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6 Responses to “Blues Ladies: Youth v Commercialisation”

  • Big Al says:

    Well done Daniel for continuing to support the ladies team. These girls have won the FA cup and absolutely destroyed the villa last season. They deserve our support. I’m hoping the focus the moors have on promotion wont damage the ladies start to the season given Marcus’ dual role.

    • jonno11blue says:

      I’m a season ticket holder and from what I’ve heard on the grapevine during the last couple of season Blues Ladies have lost players because of Marcus. I get the impression not many of the players like him so perhaps it time BCLFC had a change of coaching staff.

      • oldburyblue says:

        You must be listening to a different grapevine to me then Jonno. I believe him to be hard but fair, feared by some but respected by most if not all. He handles schoolkids as well as Internationals and has got good results with them all. If anyone with better inside knowledge knows differently I welcome their views.

      • almajir says:

        Not something I’ve heard…

  • oldburyblue says:

    I think we are doing it right. Unfortunately our men’s team are not in a position to subsidise the ladies team like others do so to a large extent we have to be self-financing with the generous sponsorship of Companies like Hollywood Monster. I have ordered my season ticket already and eagerly look forward to the new season. As a Blues supporter I revel in the situation when we are the underdogs. Success is then much sweeter! Come on down…..£20 for a concession season ticket including all home League and Cup games has got to be good value.

  • Super blues ladies , she who dares…KRO

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