Former England manager Hope Powell is concerned about the negative effect that the coronavirus pandemic is having on women’s sport.
While the men’s Premier League and Championship are pushing on with the testing programme that they hope will allow them to resume their domestic seasons, the Women’s Super League is set to be brought to a premature end.
In rugby union, there are no plans yet for a resumption of the women’s game even though there is a broad – if complicated – strategy for the Premiership.
In cricket, England’s men’s team have started training in the hope of playing their Test series against West Indies in July but their female counterparts are not sure when their international programme will resume.
The disparity in finance for the men’s and women’s game may make the divergence understandable, but Powell accepts the concern about female sport losing some of the momentum it has gained in recent years.
“There has been concern and a lot of chat and debate around that,” said Powell, who joined Brighton in July 2017.
“Hopefully money has been ring-fenced but everyone has been affected by it, in all industries, not just sport.
“Cash flow isn’t what it was predicted to be. I hope we can get through this very difficult period and all female sport is supported in the long run. But it is really hard to say ‘no it won’t be affected’.”
It is estimated Premier League clubs will spend £4m on coronavirus tests, while their counterparts in the Championship are committed to spend in excess of £100,000 each for their season to be concluded.
Powell acknowledges these are sums the women’s game cannot afford.
“We are not in a position where we can test players every two days and we haven’t got the capacity of pitches for socially distant training,” she said.
“It is just an added burden the game cannot afford. We can’t blame anyone for that. We have to accept it.”
Uefa has already moved the Women’s European Championships, which were due to be hosted by England in 2021, back a year to allow the men’s event to take place next year.
Powell is crossing her fingers any regression is short-term.
“The appetite for women’s football has been growing,” she said. “When it comes back I hope it continues to grow and the investment in it will grow as well.
“Speaking from Brighton’s point of view, the club is committed to supporting the women’s game over a long period giving the work they are doing to build new facilities and an increase in staff.”