Doncaster Belles ‘meet FA promotion criteria’, says Gordon Staniforth

Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle
Gordon Staniforth. Picture: Kevin Neagle

Doncaster Rovers Belles have ‘ticked all the FA’s boxes’ and will be promoted if they finish top of FAWSL2, according to manager Gordon Staniforth.

Belles and Sunderland go into Sunday’s final round of fixtures with the title still up for grabs.

Doncaster were controversially thrown out of FAWSL1 last year because they did not meet the FA’s much-criticised criteria demands, which included not having primary use of the Keepmoat Stadium.

The club’s demise received worldwide attention, while the Belles gained support from high profile figures like Sky Sports pundit Jeff Stelling and television presenter Dermot O’Leary.

A petition also boasted thousands of signatures from across the globe but Doncaster’s appeal against the decision was rebuffed by the FA last summer.

A year on, Doncaster are on the cusp of promotion back into FAWSL1.

Last weekend’s 2-0 win over Yeovil Town means the Belles are two points adrift of league leaders Sunderland heading into the final game.

Sunderland will go up if they win at Millwall Lionesses.

But Belles, who travel to bottom side London Bees, will be champions if they win and the Lady Black Cats fail to pick up three points.

If everything goes Doncaster’s way, manager Staniforth insists that the Belles will meet FA criteria.

“We’ll be promoted if we win and Sunderland slip up on Sunday,” said Staniforth.

“We tick all the FA boxes and have gone past the problems.

“We’re in a different place to where we were last season. There’s been a lot of changes around the club following last season.

“We’ve rebuilt relationships with the FA and put to bed any issues. We’ve got a panel of board members and we’ve brought qualified people in so everything is in place should promotion be the case.”

An FA spokesman told the Free Press: “Doncaster will win promotion providing they meet off-field licensing requirements.”

Staniforth, meanwhile, is reluctant to say whether he will remain at the helm next year.

“I am not committing to anything until after Sunday,” he said.

“Let’s see what Sunday brings first and then I will sit down and think over my future.”