West Ham captain Gilly Flaherty says ending the season was the right decison

PUBLISHED: 16:00 13 August 2020

Gilly Flaherty of West Ham during West Ham United Women vs Arsenal Women, Women's FA Cup Football at Rush Green Stadium on 26th January 2020

Gilly Flaherty of West Ham during West Ham United Women vs Arsenal Women, Women's FA Cup Football at Rush Green Stadium on 26th January 2020

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West Ham United Women’s captain Gilly Flaherty says Women’s Super League players urged the Football Association to cancel the 2019/20 season due to fears over their professional futures amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

The defender played all 14 of West Ham’s games in 2019-20, before the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic and her side finished eighth.

Flaherty moved to the Hammers in the club’s first summer as a professional women’s team, joining from Chelsea and was named the team’s first captain.

The centre-back has made 48 appearances in all competitions for the side to date, scoring one goal, and led the team to the Women’s FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in May 2019

Flaherty told Sky Sports News: “I know a lot of fans were unhappy that we didn’t go back and I know they said ‘well, the men have gone back so why haven’t the women gone back?’

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“What fans don’t realise is that we were having chats. All the captains from the clubs were having zoom calls with the FA to talk about how we felt as players.

“We said if it were maybe a month after lockdown had happened, you could probably get players back, but there were a lot of players out of contract, there were a lot of players who weren’t comfortable after having three months to go back and play two games a week.

“We’re in a different position to the men financially, where potentially if one of us got a serious injury and was at the end of our contract, where do we go then? And there were a lot of people in that position.”

“What fans don’t realise is that a lot of the players after four months of being off, weren’t comfortable to go back. And the FA listened to that, the FA could have said ‘listen, you’re going back and you’re playing the games,’ but they didn’t, they listened to the players and they listened to how we felt.

“I think that’s what the FA did incredibly well.”

Flaherty added: “I feel like they’ve got women’s football in a very good place in this country, you’re talking it’s the number one league in Europe if not the world the way it is, and it’s about protecting that and making sure we do sustain it for the years to come, that five-ten years’ time we’ve still got a fully professional league going.”

The Hammers take on Tottenham Hotspur in a London derby to start the season on Sunday, September, 6 before hosting Arsenal a week later.

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