What the papers say

England forward Chloe Kelly is wanted by Paris St-Germain. The Daily Mail reports the 26-year-old would become the highest-paid women’s player in Europe if she makes the move from Manchester City.

Christian Eriksen, 31, could make a return to Brentford in the summer, according to the Metro. Galatasaray have also been linked with a move for Manchester United’s Denmark midfielder.

Brighton are leading the race for Ghanaian winger Ibrahim Osman. The Evening Standard says the Seagulls close to beating West Ham to the 19-year-old’s signature from Nordsjaelland in a £17million deal, while the Daily Mail says the move has already been agreed.

Jon Dahl Tomasson is close to being the next managerial casualty. The Daily Mail reports he is set to leave Blackburn Rovers after eight games without a win in the Championship.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Antonee Robinson: Liverpool are looking at a summer mover for the Fulham and the United States left-back, according to Football Insider,

Ivan Toney: Manchester United are ahead of Arsenal in the race to sign the England striker from Brentford, according to Teamtalk.

Leah Williamson’s first start in nine months could not inspire Arsenal to victory as their Women’s Super League title hopes suffered a setback with a 2-1 defeat at West Ham.

The England captain was back in the starting line-up for the first time since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury and looked set to enjoy a winning return when Arsenal edged in front just before the break through Alessia Russo’s back-post header.

Williamson was replaced at half-time and the Hammers were given an opportunity to equalise when Steph Catley brought down Riko Ueki inside the area. Viviane Asseyi stepped up and sent Manuela Zinsberger the wrong way to make it 1-1.

West Ham completed the turnaround in the 58th minute after a free-kick was headed back out to Hawa Cissoko, who finished expertly to give the hosts back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

Nikita Parris bagged a brace as Manchester United earned a second consecutive win with a 2-0 victory over Brighton.

United were quick out of the blocks and opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Parris lashed home from Geyse’s low cross.

Parris was on the score sheet again midway through the second half in carbon copy fashion to the first as Geyse delivered a cross following some neat footwork down the right and Parris finished first time to condemn Brighton to their second successive defeat without scoring.

Manchester City left it late as Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly scored twice in the final eight minutes to beat Leicester 2-0.

City dominated the contest throughout but the Foxes stubborn defence held firm until the 82nd minute when Hemp’s acrobatic finish rolled into the back of the net.

They sealed victory three minutes later in superb fashion when Kelly whipped in directly from a corner for their 10th victory of the season.

Marie Hobinger scored in stoppage time to earn Liverpool a 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

Celine Bizet’s 72nd-minute strike looked set to send Tottenham above Liverpool in the table, but they failed to extend their lead as they missed golden opportunities through Wang Shuang and Amanda Nilden’s effort which struck a post.

And Liverpool made them pay at the death when Leanne Kiernan cut the ball back for Hobinger, who found the bottom corner.

Leah Williamson’s first start in nine months could not inspire Arsenal to victory as their Women’s Super League title hopes suffered a setback with a 2-1 defeat at West Ham.

The England captain was back in the starting line-up for the first time since returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury and looked set to enjoy a winning return when Arsenal edged in front just before the break through Alessia Russo’s back-post header.

Williamson was replaced at the break and the Hammers were given an opportunity to equalise when Steph Catley brought down Riko Ueki inside the area – Viviane Asseyi stepped up and sent Manuela Zinsberger the wrong way to make it 1-1.

West Ham completed the turnaround in the 58th minute after a free-kick was headed back out to Hawa Cissoko, who finished expertly to give the hosts back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

Nikita Parris bagged a brace as Manchester United earned a second consecutive win with a 2-0 victory over Brighton.

United were quick out of the blocks and opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Parris lashed home from Geyse’s low cross.

Parris was on the scoresheet again midway through the second half in carbon copy fashion to the first as Geyse delivered a cross following some neat footwork down the right and Parris first-time finished to condemn Brighton to their second successive defeat without scoring.

Manchester City left it late as Lauren Hemp and Chloe Kelly scored twice in the final eight minutes to beat Leicester 2-0.

City dominated the contest throughout but the Foxes stubborn defence held firm until the 82nd minute when Hemp’s acrobatic finish rolled into the back of the net.

They sealed victory three minutes later in superb fashion when Kelly whipped in directly from a corner for their 10th victory of the season.

Maddy Cusack’s family have said they “welcome” the sacking of Sheffield United Women’s head coach Jonathan Morgan.

The Blades announced on Friday that Morgan’s contract had been terminated “due to new information that has come to light within the last few days with regards to Mr Morgan’s conduct before arriving at Bramall Lane.”

His dismissal is not related to the Football Association investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of former Sheffield United player Cusack.

Cusack died aged 27 in September last year. A week after her death, her family are understood to have sent a written complaint to United outlining a range of issues she had been facing, which they claim all stemmed from her relationship with Morgan.

Following Morgan’s departure from Bramall Lane, the Maggie Cusack Foundation said in a short statement posted on X: “On Friday afternoon, we learnt on social media of the departure of Jonathan Morgan. We as a family welcome this development.

“We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you for the unwavering loyalty, support and love shown to Maddy from football clubs from around the country and fans alike. We truly appreciate this.”

Morgan’s now former representatives, Tongue Tied Management, said they had severed ties with him in a statement on Friday.

It read: “In the last 24 hours we have learnt new information regarding Jonathan Morgan and a relationship with a player under his charge.

“We will no longer be working with him in any capacity and the termination of our relationship is with immediate effect.

“The termination of this contract is a critical measure in preserving the integrity of our agency.”

Morgan was in charge of Leicester’s women’s first team from 2014-2021 before moving to Burnley and was appointed by Sheffield United in February 2023.

The PA news agency has contacted Sheffield United, Leicester and Burnley for comment. Morgan is a member of the League Managers’ Association, which has also been approached for comment.

The FA investigation into the circumstances surrounding Cusack’s death remains ongoing, PA understands.

United commissioned a third-party investigation following the Cusack family’s complaint, which concluded last year with no evidence found of any wrongdoing by anyone connected to the club.

The FA announced on January 8 it was assessing information surrounding the circumstances of Cusack’s death, but stressed at that time it had not opened a formal investigation. PA understands that changed last week, when the FA told the family at a meeting on January 24 that it was formally investigating.

Morgan stepped away from his post in October after the independent investigation commissioned by the club started but returned to work at United in the final week of last year.

PA has contacted the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association for comment.

Arsenal moved level on points with Chelsea at the top of the Women’s Super League with a 4-1 rout of the champions in front of a league-record crowd of 59,042 at the Emirates Stadium.

Alessia Russo scored twice with Amanda Ilestedt also on the scoresheet after Johanna Rytting Kaneryd had cancelled out Beth Mead’s opener.

Mead capped a swift counter-attack eight minutes in, but Chelsea needed only five minutes to level through Rytting Kaneryd who beat Manuela Zinsberger at her near post with a shot from distance.

The game was all but decided with two goals in three minutes before half-time. Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger came off her line but got nowhere near Steph Catley’s corner as Ilestedt headed into the empty net for her first WSL goal, and Russo then finished off another counter-attack.

The fourth came in the 72nd minute. Berger came out to challenge Russo and, although Jess Carter won the ball and knocked it away from the Arsenal forward, the referee signalled a penalty as Russo tumbled over Berger, who shook her head in disbelief before being beaten from the spot.

The result puts Arsenal on 22 points, second to Chelsea on goal difference, with Manchester City three points back in third.

In Sunday’s late kick-off, Manchester City thrashed Tottenham 7-0 with Khadija Shaw scoring a first-half hat-trick before Laura Coombs came off the bench to net a late double.

City built on a fast start as Shaw headed home a 23rd-minute opener before two more well-taken goals in the space of six minutes ripped Spurs apart as their eight-match unbeaten run was left in tatters.

Any hopes of a comeback were dashed at the start of the second half when the impressive Lauren Hemp curled in a fourth.

Jill Roord’s header and a late brace from substitute Coombs completed a comprehensive win which sees City consolidate third place going into the international break.

Beth Mead scored twice as Arsenal thumped struggling West Ham 3-0 at Meadow Park in the Women’s Super League.

It did not take long for Arsenal to open the scoring as Frida Maanum put the hosts 1-0 up just two minutes in and Mead got her first since returning from injury in the 18th minute before she tapped in from six yards to make it 3-0 just before the break.

Jonas Eidevall’s team sit in second position and continue to pile pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Lauren James scored twice as the Blues stretched their winning run to six games in the league with a 5-2 victory over Leicester.

Chelsea scored twice in the first five minutes through James and a Courtney Nevin own goal and added a third just before the break through Sam Kerr, just after Jutta Rantala had brought Leicester back into the game.

Sam Tierney netted in the 44th minute to make it 3-2 but Chelsea regained their two-goal cushion when James dinked over the keeper from close range and Aggie Beever-Jones sealed the points late on for Emma Hayes’ side.

 

Second-half goals from Hinata Miyazawa and Nikita Parris ensured that Manchester United returned to winning ways in the WSL after their derby loss to Manchester City last weekend with a 2-0 victory at rock-bottom Bristol City.

United were denied on several occasions in the first period by inspired City goalkeeper Olivia Clark, who kept out Parris, Leah Galton and Millie Turner.

Marc Skinner’s side broke the deadlock five minutes after the break through Japanese international Miyazawa before Parris added a second as United clinched an away win.

Liverpool picked up their first win in three league matches with a convincing 4-0 triumph over Brighton.

The Reds carried a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to strikes from Gemma Bonner and Shanice van de Sanden and Ceri Holland nodded in from close range in the second half before Sophie Roman Haug added the gloss on a good afternoon for the hosts.

Also on Sunday, Everton leapfrogged Aston Villa in the table after Nathalie Bjorn’s penalty handed them a 2-1 win at Villa Park.

Anna Patten’s own goal gave Everton the lead but they were instantly pegged back when Rachel Daly side-footed home from close range.

The Toffees’ winner came with 15 minutes left when Kirsty Hanson brought Heather Payne down inside the area. Bjorn stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to hand Everton a first victory in five matches.

Beth Mead scored twice as Arsenal thumped struggling West Ham 3-0 at Meadow Park in the Women’s Super League.

It did not take long for Arsenal to open the scoring as Frida Maanum put the hosts 1-0 up just two minutes in and Mead got her first since returning from injury in the 18th minute before she tapped in from six yards to make it 3-0 just before the break.

Jonas Eidevall’s team sit in second position and continue to pile pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Lauren James scored twice as the Blues stretched their winning run to six games in the league with a 5-2 win over Leicester.

Chelsea scored twice in the first five minutes through James and a Courtney Nevin own goal and added a third just before the break through Sam Kerr, just after Jutta Rantala had brought Leicester back into the game.

Sam Tierney netted in the 44th minute to make it 3-2 but Chelsea regained their two-goal cushion when James dinked over the keeper from close range and Aggie Beever-Jones sealed the points late on for Emma Hayes’ side.

Second half goals from Hinata Miyazawa and Nikita Parris ensured that Manchester United returned to winning ways after their derby loss to Manchester City with a 2-0 win over rock bottom Bristol City.

United were denied on several occasions in the first period by inspired City goalkeeper Olivia Clark, who kept out Parris, Leah Galton and Millie Turner.

Marc Skinner’s side broke the deadlock five minutes after the break through Japanese international Miyazawa before Parris added a second as United clinched an away win.

Liverpool picked up their first win in three league matches with a convincing 4-0 win over Brighton.

The Reds carried a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to strikes from Gemma Bonner and Shanice van de Sanden and Ceri Holland nodded in from close range in the second half before Sophie Roman Haug added the gloss on a good afternoon for the hosts.

Beth Mead scored twice as Arsenal thumped struggling West Ham 3-0 at Meadow Park in the Women’s Super League.

It did not take long for Arsenal to open the scoring as Frida Maanum put the hosts 1-0 up just two minutes in and Mead got her first since returning from injury in the 18th minute before she tapped in from six yards to make it 3-0 just before the break.

Jonas Eidevall’s team sit in second position and continue to pile pressure on league leaders Chelsea.

Lauren James scored twice as the Blues stretched their winning run to six games in the league with a 5-2 win over Leicester.

Chelsea scored twice in the first five minutes through James and a Courtney Nevin own goal and added a third just before the break through Sam Kerr, just after Jutta Rantala had brought Leicester back into the game.

Sam Tierney netted in the 44th minute to make it 3-2 but Chelsea regained their two-goal cushion when James dinked over the keeper from close range and Aggie Beever-Jones sealed the points late on for Emma Hayes’ side.

Second half goals from Hinata Miyazawa and Nikita Parris ensured that Manchester United returned to winning ways after their derby loss to Manchester City with a 2-0 win over rock bottom Bristol City.

United were denied on several occasions in the first period by inspired City goalkeeper Olivia Clark, who kept out Parris, Leah Galton and Millie Turner.

Marc Skinner’s side broke the deadlock five minutes after the break through Japanese international Miyazawa before Parris added a second as United clinched an away win.

Liverpool picked up their first win in three league matches with a convincing 4-0 win over Brighton.

The Reds carried a 2-0 lead into the break thanks to strikes from Gemma Bonner and Shanice van de Sanden and Ceri Holland nodded in from close range in the second half before Sophie Roman Haug added the gloss on a good afternoon for the hosts.

Shanice van de Sanden celebrated becoming a mother with a goal as Liverpool beat Brighton 4-0 in the Women’s Super League.

The Netherlands forward, who had missed the midweek Continental Cup defeat by Manchester United with her partner giving birth to a girl on Tuesday, drove in her first goal of the season.

It came after an opening goal headed in by Gemma Bonner, who had been presented with a framed shirt by Liverpool great Ian Callaghan before kick-off to mark her achievement in becoming the club’s record appearance maker in the Women’s Super League era.

Ceri Holland added a third goal in the second half before Sophie Roman Haug capped an impressive performance by scoring in stoppage time.

Brighton were well beaten in the end, yet had caused Liverpool significant problems in the opening 20 minutes.

Liverpool goalkeeper Teagan Micah – making her Women’s Super League debut, having arrived from Swedish club Rosengard in July – produced three important saves before the match was 10 minutes old.

First she pushed aside a deflected Pauline Bremer shot, then beat away Maisie Symonds’ inswinging corner under pressure and tipped over a dangerous cross-shot from Brighton’s leading scorer Elisabeth Terland.

Micah was beaten in the 13th minute as Terland glanced another Symonds corner goalwards, but Bonner cleared the ball off the line.

Having ridden the early pressure, Liverpool went ahead in the 27th minute, as Bonner – making her 138th Liverpool appearance, now four clear of previous record holder Ashley Hodson – rose at the near post to flick Marie Hobinger’s corner past goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley.

The home side extended their advantage in the 43rd minute, as Haug broke through the middle before feeding a pass right for Van de Sanden to angle a low drive beneath Baggaley.

They added a third goal in the 63rd minute, as Haug chased a ball to the byline that Brighton centre-back Guro Bergsvand was trying to allow to run out of play, and hooked it back for Holland to head in from inside the six-yard box.

Van de Sanden looked certain to score a second moments later as Hobinger played her clear, but Baggaley reacted brilliantly to push her blasted shot over the bar. She then drove wide after making another burst clear, before being substituted to a standing ovation.

Her replacement Leanne Kiernan hit the bar with a rising angled drive as Liverpool threatened to overwhelm Brighton, and substitute Missy Bo Kearns forced another fine save from Baggaley with a shot on the run in the closing minutes.

A fourth goal arrived in the second minute of injury time, as Haug rolled in from close range following a Kiernan cutback.

Manchester City came from a goal behind to beat Women’s Super League rivals Manchester United 3-1 at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were awarded a penalty in the 20th minute as Alex Greenwood handled inside the area, with Katie Zelem slotting home to put them a goal up.

City were not behind for long and turned the game on its head with two goals inside a minute as Jill Roord slotted home the equaliser before Lauren Hemp curled in superb fashion from outside the area to make it 2-1.

The visitors ensured the three points as Khadija Shaw closed down a back-pass to Mary Earps, with the goalkeeper’s clearance bouncing off Shaw and going into the net to rubber-stamp the triumph.

Despite Laia Aleixandri’s second bookable offence for a foul on Lucia Garcia, City held on to move above United in the WSL.

Elsewhere, Arsenal secured their sixth win in all competitions with a convincing 3-0 victory over Brighton thanks to goals from Stina Blackstenius, Caitlin Foord and Frida Maanum.

Bristol City twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with fellow strugglers Everton at Walton Hall Park while Tottenham’s unbeaten run continued with a 1-1 draw against Leicester.

Rachel Daly scored in stoppage time to help secure Aston Villa their second win of the season with a 3-2 victory over West Ham.

Arsenal made it five consecutive wins in the Women’s Premier League and six in all competitions with a convincing 3-0 victory over Brighton.

Stina Blackstenius opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a shot into the top left-hand corner of the net before Caitlin Foord doubled their advantage with 10 minutes to go in front of a record crowd of 4,921 at a sold-out Broadfield Stadium.

Frida Maanum sealed the three points in stoppage time with her first goal of the season after being teed up by Cloe Lacasse, leaving the second-placed Gunners three points behind leaders Chelsea in the table.

Bristol City twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with fellow strugglers Everton at Walton Hall Park.

Martina Piemonte put the hosts in front just five minutes into the contest but Amy Rodgers slammed home from inside the area just before the interval to bring the scores level.

Everton retook the lead in the 57th minute courtesy of Megan Finnigan and looked on course for only their second win of the WSL season when Amalie Thestrup dinked home from close range with eight minutes remaining to earn rock-bottom City a share of the spoils.

Tottenham extended their unbeaten run to six matches with a 1-1 draw against Leicester at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester went ahead in the 18th minute when Janice Cayman received a pass from Hannah Cain before firing home but were pegged back when Celin Bizet latched onto a through ball and finished coolly.

Rachel Daly scored a brilliant stoppage-time winner as Aston Villa came out on top in a five-goal thriller to beat West Ham 3-2 and double their points tally for the campaign.

Viviane Asseyi’s penalty put West Ham a goal to the good but Villa turned the game on its head through Anna Patten and Adriana Leon.

West Ham thought they had snatched a point when Lisa Evans drilled home from outside the area with 10 minutes to go.

But, the decisive moment came two minutes into added time when England star Daly smashed into the top corner to snatch all three points for Villa.

Chelsea are in search of a new manager after Emma Hayes announced she would be stepping down at the end of this season to “pursue a new opportunity outside the WSL and club football”.

Hayes, who since her 2012 appointment has led the Blues to 15 trophies including six Women’s Super League titles, is rumoured to be the first-choice candidate to take over the United States, who have been without a head coach since US Soccer this summer parted ways with Vlatko Andonovski following the Americans’ worst-ever finish at a Women’s World Cup.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the candidates who could look to fill Hayes’ considerable shoes.

Laura Harvey

Nuneaton-born Laura Harvey might fancy a move back home to England after a decade in America, where she is currently the head coach of OL Reign and a three-time National Women’s Soccer League coach of the year, winning three NWSL Shields and this year steering her side to a third trip to league’s championship final.

The 43-year-old, who is under contract with Reign until 2025, commands respect and has led big-name talent including Megan Rapinoe and Rose Lavelle, and led Arsenal to a domestic treble in 2011, the first season of the WSL. She has since described her time at the Gunners – a side she took over at the age of 29 – as a mixed experience, and could be keen to re-test the transformed WSL waters as a now-veteran manager.

Denise Reddy

Assistant manager Reddy is a respected and familiar face at Chelsea and could help provide a smooth transition for both players and staff who will no doubt feel a bit of culture shock in the absence of the influential Hayes, who transformed the women’s team both on and off the pitch and led a cultural revolution at the club.

The snag here would be if Reddy, who was also Hayes’ assistant at Chicago Red Stars, decides to follow her boss again, which reports suggest the former USA Under-20s assistant may well have the intention of doing.

Lluis Cortes

Few women’s clubs save Barcelona could boast the same level of success and reach as Chelsea, and Cortes was the man in charge in one of the most astonishing seasons in the Spanish side’s history when he led them to the Primera Division, Copa de la Reina and Women’s Champions League titles in 2021 before leaving on his own accord, citing a “lack of energy” to continue.

Since then he has led Ukraine’s women’s team, stepping down at the end of August, but might be persuaded back into club football by an organisation who could benefit from the 2021 UEFA women’s coach of the year’s European experience as they seek to do the one thing Hayes has so far not managed in her 11-year Chelsea tenure: win a Champions League title.

As the women’s game in England continues to grow, so do transfer fees with one Women’s Super League manager describing this summer’s window as “wild” following plenty of big spending.

FIFA reported three million US dollars (£2.4million) was spent during the 2023 mid-year transfer, which was double the amount (£983,000) that women’s clubs outlay across the globe in 2022.

While the spending in women’s football is far behind the sums chucked around in the men’s game, the past 12 months in particular has seen spending rise rapidly as more funds are used following a golden period for the Lionesses.

The success of Sarina Wiegman’s team at the Euros and this summer’s World Cup has contributed towards the WSL going from strength to strength, with clubs from the division involved in eight of the top-10 transfers in the world.

Four of the biggest signings in women’s football occurred this summer with Arsenal reportedly spending more than £300k to sign Australian Kyra Cooney-Cross from Hammarby on transfer deadline day and title rivals Manchester City bringing in Jill Roord from Wolfsburg for a similar amount.

Keira Walsh’s £400k move from City to Barcelona last summer remains the record transfer in women’s football, but Arsenal threatened to break that in January when they launched an ambitious attempt to prize away Alessia Russo from Manchester United.

United stood strong and turned down a bid close to the £500k mark, but forward Russo signed on a free for Arsenal this summer anyway, with the Gunners not content there and adding World Cup star Cooney-Cross into the mix before they conceded defeat in a pursuit of England goalkeeper Mary Earps.

“This has been by far the strongest window for WSL as a league that I have ever experienced,” Arsenal boss Jonas Eidevall said.

Eidevall is not alone in that assessment and, while City were happy just to bring in Roord, the other members of the big four flexed their muscles.

The Red Devils made four signings on transfer deadline day alone, bringing in World Cup golden boot winner Hinata Miyazawa and they shelled out around £250k on Brazil forward Geyse from Barcelona.

 

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Chelsea raided France for Ashley Lawrence and Catarina Macario from Paris St Germain and Lyon respectively.

Meanwhile, forward Mia Fishel signed from Tigres for in excess of £150k to boost a squad full of stars with Emma Hayes’ side eager to take the final step in the Champions League.

Liverpool manager Matt Beard admitted: “You just look at Chelsea’s transfer window and it’s ridiculous. They will have players in there who won’t even be named in their 25-player squad.

“We’re still a way from the top teams in regards to expenditure. You just need to look at the Alessia Russo deal and Arsenal looking to spend another record fee on Mary Earps etc. There is still a big gap.”

It would be inaccurate to state only the big four were spending in the WSL, though after Tottenham showed their ambition – and fear of relegation – when they parted with £250k to sign Bethany England from Chelsea in January.

England immediately flourished, which meant Spurs’ gamble to sign a player for a British record fee paid off after they avoided relegation.

The £250k transfer remains the highest between WSL clubs but the other mid-table teams have enjoyed productive summers with Leicester making Janina Leitzig’s move from Bayern Munich permanent.

Liverpool broke their club record to bring in forward Sophie Roman Haug, while Brighton convinced two-time Champions League winner Pauline Bremer to swap Wolfsburg for the south coast and Everton made several signings after losing Gabby George to Manchester United in a £150k deadline-day deal.

Managerial changes at Tottenham and West Ham saw both make some shrewd additions and newly-promoted Bristol City opted for quantity over quality.

Perhaps the winners of the transfer window were Aston Villa, who purchased Ebony Salmon, Adriana Leon and Netherlands stopper Daphne Van Domselaar alongside keeping Rachel Daly.

However, Villa boss Carla Ward remains perplexed by the numbers being discussed this summer, even if it shows little sign of slowing.

“It’s wild. If you think about a few years ago when players were paying to play and now one transfer of Bethany England going for £250k has inflated everyone’s prices,” Ward explained.

“We need to continue to grow off the pitch and transfer fees have to be in line with that.

“Some of the transfer fees branded around this summer were quite ridiculous. We got offered a crazy amount for one of our players.

“You have gone from your £50k, £60k or £100k bands, to £400k for Keira Walsh which for me is OK because she’s the best midfielder in the world.

“But when you’re talking about £400k or £500k for players not at that level, it’s mind-blowing.”

Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA director of women’s football, promised some future limits on spending.

She said: “The club’s themselves have agreed that we need some cost controls because otherwise, all the money that comes in, ends up getting spent on salaries.

“The women’s game requires a lot more investment in infrastructure, a lot more investment in other things.”

After a summer in which the England team took another historic step forward, the Women’s Super League returns this week with the next major phase in its development on the horizon.

New ground was broken by the Lionesses once again as, a year on from claiming their first major trophy with Euros glory on home soil, they reached a maiden World Cup final.

While they ended up being edged 1-0 by Spain on August 20, the exploits of Sarina Wiegman’s side at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand only further strengthened the sense of momentum surrounding the English women’s game.

The WSL has been a key contributor to that as well and, as the start of the 2023-24 season draws near, there has been much talk about the division – which has been fully professional since 2018 – entering a new era.

An independent company currently being referred to as ‘NewCo’ is set to take over the running of the league and the second-tier Championship from the Football Association from the start of 2024-25 onwards, and WSL chair Dawn Airey has spoken about the ambition to create the first billion-pound league structure in women’s football.

Indicators of the growth the WSL has enjoyed to this point include its broadcast deal with Sky and the BBC that started in 2021 and runs to the end of this coming season, and attendance figures, with the FA reporting the average rose by 170 per cent in 2022-23 compared to 2021-22, and a record 47,367 watching Arsenal v Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium last September.

That high mark may well be surpassed on the first day of the 2023-24 campaign this Sunday, when Arsenal are back at the stadium to kick-off with a clash against Liverpool – ticket sales hit 48,000 with a few days still to go in the build-up to the match.

The season will see a number of matches taking place at Premier League grounds, with three of those coming in the opening round.

Arsenal have committed to Jonas Eidevall’s Gunners, who came third last term as well as winning the League Cup, playing five WSL games at the Emirates across the season.

And the number is four for champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, starting with Sunday’s meeting with Tottenham as Emma Hayes’ side – also FA Cup winners last term – open their bid for a fifth league title on the bounce.

The runners-up to the Blues in both the league and FA Cup last season, their best finish in either competition, were Manchester United, who begin on Sunday by facing Aston Villa at Villa Park – minus Alessia Russo, after the England striker left in the summer and joined Arsenal.

It has also been confirmed that Marc Skinner’s United will play their WSL derbies against Manchester City this term at Old Trafford (November) and the Etihad Stadium (March).

Elsewhere on the opening day, Gareth Taylor’s City, seeking to bounce back after finishing outside the Champions League berths in fourth last season, are away against West Ham, who have a new boss in Rehanne Skinner.

Skinner, successor to Paul Konchesky, was previously at Tottenham, where Robert Vilahamn has replaced interim Vicky Jepson in the division’s other summer managerial change.

Everton host Brighton at Walton Hall Park, while newly-promoted Bristol City start their top-flight return by taking on Leicester at Ashton Gate, the ground set to be the venue for all the Robins’ WSL home games this term.

West Ham captain Dagny Brynjarsdottir has announced she is expecting her second child.

The 31-year-old from Iceland, who joined the Hammers in January 2021, gave birth to son Brynjar in June 2018 while she was playing in the United States for Portland Thorns.

Brynjarsdottir told West Ham TV: “From growing up supporting West Ham to becoming the club captain and then bringing my son, Brynjar, into the West Ham family, I’m delighted to announce that there will be a new addition to the West Ham family next year.

 

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“I think it’s amazing how much the club supports me with my son. Not every club would let their kid come to the training ground and on to the pitch. I’m very grateful that he gets to have all of these experiences with me and, because of that, he is a big West Ham fan today and will be the rest of his life.

“When Brynjar comes to the training ground it just feels like extended family. Everyone is so nice and calm and it’s just one big family – and I’m excited to be adding to that family.”

Brynjarsdottir has made 65 appearances and scored 17 goals for the Hammers, who finished eighth in the Women’s Super League last season.

She will not play during the forthcoming season, with the club adding: “Everyone at West Ham United would like to congratulate Dagny and her partner Omar on their fantastic news.”

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