ITFC Women's manager on FA's call to declare WNL season null and void
ITFC Women manager Joe Sheehan spoke to the Club website following the news that the Women's National League would be declared null and void due to the ongoing situation with Covid-19.
A full transcript of the conversation is below:
Q: Joe, how are you feeling having received the news this afternoon?
JS: We're gutted but not suprised to be honest. We had eight or nine games remaining this season, and other clubs around us had even more than that so the chances of finishing the season were unlikely. It's disappointing but it's out of our control.
Q: Do you feel the right decision was made by The FA?
JS: I can see why they've made the decision they have. For us it's tough because we were on track to achieve what we wanted to do this season and that was to get promoted. But no matter the decision they had made I'm sure certain teams would have been unhappy about it. We've beaten teams in the league above this season so we know we're capable of playing at that level, and that does make the outcome disappointing because that's where we feel we should be. Like I say whatever decision they had made some people would have complained so they just had to make a call.
Q: We don't know how long this situation is going to last, Joe, but where does this leave you ahead of next season?
JS: This is a really key stage for us. Some of our younger players have decisions to make about their education in terms of going to university and things like that. We want to keep those players and we were confident of doing so if we achieved promotion. Now we have to play another year at this level so it is something we'll have to discuss with them. We'll also look at who we can bring in and who will strengthen the squad and of course we will reflect on the season and analyse what went well and where we need to improve. This season has certainly been valuable experience for us and we know what to expect from teams higher up the ladder as we'll hopefully be going up against some of them next season in cup competitions.
Q: Is that what has made this news tough, the fact that this was stage one in your plan to work your way up the ladder - and it was all looking good - and now you'll have to wait at least one more season?
JS: Exactly. We were very confident of what we could achieve this season and the young players were so hungry to be a part of it. Now we're back to square one so the starting point is to see who we can keep hold of and give it another go next year.
Q: And that will be a difficult decision because you want to keep your best players but you also won't want to stand in their way in terms of what they could achieve in their career?
JS: One hundred per cent. We have to be very careful of that. It's a balancing act because we want to make decisions for the benefit of the team and the Football Club but the individuals as well. If there are opportunities for some of our players to move on then it will be tough but of course we will support them all we can.
Q: Have you had an opportunity to speak to the girls yet, Joe? And if not, what will your message to them be?
JS: I haven't spoken to them yet as we've only just been informed of the situation. One thing I will be saying is to not get down about the situation because we have still had a really good season and the experience has been vital. It will be a test for us to roll our sleeves up and go again but we will be up for it.
Q: Off the pitch you've built momentum too and that's another factor in all of this isn't it?
JS: It is. The support we've received this season has been brilliant and we've managed to get a good core fan base on board. If we can build on that momentum and excitement next season then that's great.
Q: Statistically this season will be null and void but you've mentioned the experience and that must be something you feel you can build on?
JS: Absolutely. We had a brilliant cup run, a solid home record and we've scored a lot of goals. We've set records and made history for the Club so that is something we will want to take forward and I'm confident we can do so.
Q: We've spoken about the decision made by the FA but would you agree there are bigger things in the world to focus on rather than football at the moment?
JS: Yes and I think that's why we can't be disheartened at the decision. First of all it's out of our hands and secondly the health of everyone in the world is the most important thing. Given the time we are all having at the moment to reflect on things I think we're seeing the importance of life and health and that should be at the front of everyone's mind while we do what we can to get through this. It's something that puts things in to perspective and hopefully we can get through this together then go again as a Football Club, whenever that might be.