Doncaster Belles: Club chief remains positive

Alan Smart,vice chairman of Doncaster Belles. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D4345MB
Alan Smart,vice chairman of Doncaster Belles. Picture: Malcolm Billingham D4345MB
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The vice chairman of Doncaster Rovers Belles says the club will “continue to engage positively” with the FA during their appeal.

Belles will be out of the top flight for the first time in over 20 years after an application process for next season’s two-tiered FA Women’s Super League saw the club demoted and replaced by Manchester City LFC.

Belles are the only club from the ‘successful’ 18 clubs to appeal against the decision.

Club officials met with an Independent Appeal Board on Monday. The hearing has been adjourned until Tuesday, June 25, to give the club more time to prepare their case.

Belles vice chairman Alan Smart said he “welcomed” the adjournment.

He said: “Our appeal has always been about more than just the Belles – it goes to the heart of the future development of women’s football in England and we are grateful to the FA for allowing us the opportunity to put our case to a full hearing.”

The club has received substantial backing from people across the globe with radio and TV presenter Dermot O’Leary adding his weight to the battle by signing a petition launched by angry Belles fans.

Local lawyers have also offered support with expert Carl Lygo, chief executive of BPP Holdings who run the country’s largest law school, saying he didn’t think any judge in the country would rule against Belles’ appeal.

Smart said: “We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to every individual and organisation - inside and outside the football community - who have expressed their support for us, both in public and in private.

“Without doubt it is your support that sustains us and we are truly grateful.”

However, the appeal process has taken its toll on the club’s wafer thin finances so a ‘Fighting Fund’ has been launched.

Supporters are asked to donate via the account held at Lloyds TSB. Sort code 309268, account number 00556100.

Both Belles and the FA said they would not comment further until after the hearing.