FA Women’s Championship side Sheffield FC have been forced to drop out of the league ahead of the new campaign.
The club, managed by Zoe Johnson, were promoted via the FA Women’s Premier League playoffs in 2015 and had a solid first campaign within the FA Women’s Super League pyramid in 2016, ending their inaugural season in fifth place.
The club consolidated that with another fifth-place finish in the 2017-18 season just ended but the club will no longer be in the top two tiers after they announced their withdrawal on Sunday afternoon.
Sources told OGM on Sunday morning the club would be pulling out of the league and players and staff were informed throughout the course of Sunday that Sheffield would not be in the FA Women’s Championship come August’s start date.
The news could be a reprieve for Sunderland who dropped out of the top two tiers completely when the licenses were awarded earlier this month.
The club appealed the decision but last week were placed in the new FA Women’s National League North, but it could also open up an opportunity for playoff runner-up Blackburn Rovers.
With some teams already returning to preseason and players being snapped up, any club being promoted back to the second tier would be left with a small amount of time to assemble a squad with most already planning for the tier they’ve been allocated over the last few weeks.
After the controversy surrounding the decision to demote Sunderland, along with Oxford United and Watford, The FA will rightly come under more criticism as another club pulls out of the new league system forced upon them at the start of the 2017-18 season.
While most of Sheffield FC’s players will be snapped up ahead of the new season with several new clubs being within reach of the Dronfield-based club, it leaves manager Zoe Johnson with an uncertain future as well as the hard-working team behind the scenes including general manager Helen Mitchell.
Mitchell has been part of the club for more than a decade and was manager of the club when they were promoted in 2015 behind handing over the reins to Johnson when Mick Mulhern left the club shortly after being hired as they began life in FA WSL 2.