Crystal Palace Ladies, have this week, been awarded a place within the second tier of women's football in England, The FA Women's Championship, for the 2018-19 season. The late call up for the Bromley FC based club, follows five weeks of pain and reflections, after their initial bid to join the elite was unsuccessful within the recent open application process.
Palace Ladies Chairman, Richard Spokes, explained how things had turned around so suddenly,
“It is well documented as to how very disappointed we were with the result of the initial application process. What we considered was a very strong bid on all fronts, was adjudged to have just fallen just short of the original five places available. With the incredible support of Steve Parish and everyone at Crystal Palace FC, including the best fans in the business, we sought to explore all avenues to establish why and how we missed out. Without a doubt, it has been a very testing and difficult time, although we have been determined to continue the build in strength, that has seen us progress over recent seasons. This has seen us add real quality and commit to building a tier two standard club, even though it looked like it would be in tier three for one season."
The Chairman added,
"A few weeks ago, we became aware of the sad withdrawal from The Championship, of Sheffield FC, a club that we respect for their dedicated and sustained progression, and were unsure as to where this left the league. With nothing heard, we have been continuing to focus on our tier three commitments. Then, out of the blue, this week, we received contact from The FA and an invitation to take a place in The Championship, for the new season. Naturally, we were quick to accept but are also very keen to wish our friends at Sheffield FC, and most recently, Doncaster Rovers Belles, all the very best for the future "
Asked as to the impending season, The Chairman added,
"It will be a chaotic few weeks, for sure. We are, in real terms, five weeks behind our fellow newcomers to The Championship and will need to react to this. We have been working hard on all aspects of The Club, as part of our natural development and believe, just as we highlighted in our application, that we are ready for the next level."
The squad development is evidenced by the recent activity of manager, Dean Davenport, who commented,
“We have been adamant in our intention to create a stronger, more versatile squad, as we prepare for the new season; irrespective as to which league we are in. Additions such as former Millwall Captain Ashlee Hincks and ex-Spurs centre-back Hannah Mackenzie are an indication of what is still to come as we complement the talent that we have retained at The Club. Pre-season is going well, and has suddenly taken a new twist!"
News of the inclusion of Palace within The Championship will be regarded by most as reward for their continued progression and commitment to women's football, and was welcomed by Baroness Sue Campbell, Director of Women’s Football for The FA, who said:
“We are delighted to welcome Crystal Palace Ladies into The FA Women’s Championship. They very narrowly missed out in the open application phase earlier in the year and will be an exciting addition to the league."
Bromley Football Club General Manager Jeff Hutton spoke of the Club's excitement at the prospect of hosting FA Women's Championship Football at Hayes Lane next season; "This is fantastic news for both Crystal Palace Ladies and Bromley FC. We are very proud of our partnership, which has grown from strength to strength over the years, and this will continue to develop. We look forward to hosting Tier Two football next season with great anticipation, and we strongly believe our facilities will continue to complement Crystal Palace Ladies' ongoing success."
Summarising the situation, Ladies Chairman, Richard Spokes added,
“It has been a hugely challenging month or so, with plenty of ups and downs, but our spirit has been typically Palace - defiant and ever-strengthening. Through the quality we have developed over many seasons and the incredible support from the entire Crystal Palace family, we have earned our right to take our place in The Championship. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to continue to make everyone connected to Crystal Palace FC, very proud"
Palace Ladies’ home, Hayes Lane, will be playing host to Bromley vs Crystal Palace on Tuesday night, with the Ladies training on site, and putting in an appearance during the match too.
Updates on the build up to the new season can be found on this website and our social media channels.
Updated 12:36 - 13 Jul 2018 by Ronan Howard