Doncaster Rovers Belles relegated to FAWNL Division One North

Doncaster Rovers Belles' relegation to FAWNL Division One North was confirmed following a 3-0 defeat to Derby County on Sunday.

Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 09:24 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th May 2019, 12:05 pm
Chloe Bethell is denied by Derby's goalkeeper. Photo: Julian Barker

Belles finished second bottom in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division, three points adrift of safety, and have dropped through the trapdoor with bottom side Bradford City.

That means that the former giants of women’s football will be playing fourth tier football next season.

Emily Brett is closed down. Photo: Julian Barker

The two-times FAW Premier League winners and six-times Women’s FA Cup winners were in the top flight as recently as 2016 and won the FAWSL2 title last year.

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But they had to withdraw from the new FA Women’s Championship for financial reasons.

Manager Neil Redfearn and the entire senior squad subsequently departed – meaning the club have played a team of untested youngsters in the FA Women’s National League.

Belles will now start a new era in the club’s history – under the ownership of Club Doncaster – in the fourth tier of the women’s game alongside the likes of Leeds United, Barnsley and Newcastle United.

Barring another league re-structure, Doncaster will now have to work their way back up the pyramid on merit – which certainly wasn’t the case in 2013 when big-spending Manchester City infamously took the Belles’ place in FAWSL1.

Club Doncaster will officially take over the running of the Belles this month.

The Belles are currently celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Head coach Zoey Shaw tweeted: “Sometimes you lose the battle! But we will definitely win the war!

“This squad is special, the bond they have with each other is like no other! The professionalism they have shown to regroup and focus again [thumbs up].”