Ex-players view: Belles legends question FA lack of reasoning in ‘relegation’

Belles legends Gill Coulthard, Vicky Exley and Kaz Walker with the FA cup - a trophy the club have won six times in their history.

Belles legends Gill Coulthard, Vicky Exley and Kaz Walker with the FA cup - a trophy the club have won six times in their history.

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Two Doncaster Belles legends have questioned if the deciding factor as to why the club have been relegated is purely down to finance.

The FA have refused to comment about the WSL 2014 announcement which will see Belles relegated - a decision they have appealed.

However, with Manchester City LFC taking the Belles’ place - despite not winning the Women’s Premier League in the division below - Doncaster and England legends Gill Coulthard and Kaz Walker have questioned the reasons.

“I was absolutely shocked when I heard, more to do with the timing that anything else, I just couldn’t understand it,” said Coulthard.

“I think the worst part is not getting any answers from the FA, that’s why people are questioning everything.

“The deciding factor could be money which is hard to hear. We did everything we could to keep the club going on very little money when we played and we were very successful.

“I understand that money has to be involved but you can’t deny Belles’ legacy which the FA seem to have forgotten about.”

Walker added: “It is unbelievable. After 20 years at the top and a legacy created over 40 years ago, I just can’t believe it.

“I can’t help but think money must’ve been a major factor. Put the two names together ‘Doncaster Belles’ and ‘Manchester City’ and it looks like the FA have gone for the more ‘attractive’ name to give the league more credibility.

“Doncaster can’t compete financially with the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City but they should be given the chance.”

An FA spokesman said selection was down to “a number of criteria” when asked if finance was a deciding factor but couldn’t comment on individual bids.

When asked about the time of the announcement (Belles had played one league game) he said they followed the same process as 2009/10 for the WSL launch to give clubs enough notice to withdraw/give notice in leaving their winter pyramid.

Both the Belles and FA will not comment further until after the appeal hearing on June 25 following its earlier adjournment.