Sheffield United fans column: Cheap shots over Blades Women having to mix work and play are out of line
Last week the fact that Sheffield United's women's team had to make do without six first-team players for the midweek cup game at Manchester City because they couldn't get time off work received much national attention. Â
Some of the coverage, however, was downright patronising, reported in jokey fashion in the manner of 'Women's football aspires to equal standing with the men yet they can't even get a full team out!'
Typical was presenter Gary Richardson onÂ 5Live'sÂ 'Sportsweek' on Sunday morning, when he questioned why United could not pay the players' wages so they could travel and play.
He didn't clarify whether he meant all the squad or just those six players, but it didn't really matter '“ it showed he didn't understand how the women's game works.
Some clubs are funded by Premier League giants, whereas others in the Women's Championship have no option but to be part-time.
It was a bold move by United to apply to join the second tier when more established clubs (and Manchester United) were vying for a limited number of places, and it is to the credit of those running the women's team that they made a strong enough case to even get selected.
Before this they played in a regional league, and it is a big step up to the national level.
It's a project still in its early stages (the WSL's Yeovil Town, for instance, have a much longer history of women's football) and hopefully when the team proves itself there will be a move towards full professionalism and an ability to compete more closely with City, Arsenal and Chelsea.
Till then the players deserve praise, not cheap shots, for balancing proper jobs with playing football to a high standard.