Lionesses will benefit from FA WSL calendar switch

Tuesday 12 Jul 2016
Mark Sampson has won 25 of his 39 matches as England boss

Mark Sampson believes switching The FA Women’s Super League back to a more traditional winter schedule will be extremely beneficial for his England Women’s team.

The FA WSL, now in its sixth year, traditionally runs over the spring and summer months. This season began in March and will run until November, but from 2017 the League will take place between September and May.

To help with the initial transition there will be an FA WSL Spring Series from February to May 2017.

And Sampson is happy that his Lionesses squad will be “match tough” by the time the European Championship finals come around next July.

He said: “One of the key reasons we’ve made this decision is that it does have many benefits for the game as a whole but it does have many benefits for England as well.

“The most important thing for us is that we deliver at major championships and we’ve got to give ourselves every possible chance of doing that.

“If you look at our FIFA windows at the moment, we’ve only got eight blocks over the course of the season. We probably get contact [with the players for] 60 days.

“So if you’re playing 10-12 games there’s not much time for training.

“So now looking at the [2017] calendar with not many games on the Sunday before FIFA windows, it means the players [will] turn up for England fit and fresh and we can really work them.

“An extra two training sessions per camp is a lot over the course of a year.

“When we go to Euro 2017, I think we[‘ll] have players with an ample amount of game-time, so they’ll be fit, they'll be fresh and hopefully they’ll be ‘match tough’ which is really important.”

England qualified for the Euro finals following a 7-0 win in Serbia last month.

They have two qualifiers remaining, at home to Estonia on Thursday 15 September and away to Belgium on Tuesday 20 September.

The tournament will take place in Netherlands between 16 July and 6 August 2017.

Sampson, who led England to World Cup bronze in 2015, added: “There are many positives we can look at and the big thing for us is that we do believe we’ve got to do something different to get over that line and go to the next level.

“We’ve made a bold and courageous call to do something different.

“We’re confident it will be the right call for us in the longer term.

“We’ll see our clubs, our players and our national team improving performances and going a long way in tournaments.”

By Glenn Lavery