Women’s withdrawal to benefit City long-term

Angus and Margaret McGilp, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Picture: Neil Marshall (170289-14)

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  • Senior women’s team pulls out of UK Women’s League citing low numbers
  • Hopes are high they can return within two years
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City of Portsmouth chairman Phil Budd admitted the club had no choice but to withdraw from this season’s UK Women’s League – but is confident they will be back soon.

The senior women’s squad has been decimated over the past 12 months, with team members getting married or having children.

We could only be out of the league for a year but certainly we’ll be back in two years

Phil Budd

As a result, the Mountbatten Centre-based side really struggled in division two last summer and were relegated alongside Herne Hill Harriers.

Budd said the decision to pull out of the league was a disappointing one but insisted it is for the good of the club.

He said: ‘We’ve had all sorts 
of unanticipated changes since last year.

‘The way the league structure is set up, if you don’t fulfil all your fixtures, then you can be unceremoniously kicked out.

‘But if we withdraw, then we can go back in the league at a later date.

‘It’s just bad timing on our part.

‘It was a regrettable announcement but one that will be a benefit to the athletes and the club in the long run.

‘If we have to yo-yo for a couple of years, then so be it.’

City were only 29 points off staying in the division, after finishing on 390.5 points.

And they were 33 ahead of bottom club Herne Hill.

‘They (the team) only narrowly failed to pull off what was seemingly impossible,’ said Budd.

‘It was the first couple of matches that let us down, but we very nearly managed to pull it off.

‘We know we’re capable but 
we’ve got very slim resources at the moment.

‘The squad was more than adequate but those who could commit was very low.

‘We only had seven athletes for the first match and five for the subsequent matches.’

However, Budd is hoping 
some homegrown talent will come through the ranks in the next few years so the ladies can make their national league return.

‘We have an exceptional group of 16 and 17-year-olds coming through, who will be eligible for the Women’s League soon,’ said Budd.

‘The future looks very rosy.

‘We could only be out of the league for a year but certainly we’ll be back in two years.

‘Looking at the talent, we should be back in a couple of years.’

Budd is proud of how far the women’s team have come, though.

He added: ‘If you go back half a dozen years, it was a pie-in-the-sky idea that we could have a national league team in Portsmouth.

‘We’ve had some very successful years but we’ve possibly been punching above our weight.

‘It was four years ago that we got into the UK Women’s League after playing in play-off matches.

‘On the third occasion we got through.

‘At that time, the team was full of athletes in their 20s and now they’re in their 30s and their lives are moving on.

‘The men’s team are now in the national league for the first time – that was a tremendous performance.

‘Virtually every one of those athletes came through the juniors.’

Now it’s the turn of the women to bring through the next generation of talent.

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