In the previous few days there have been multiple reports that the FA Women's Super League and Women's Championship will not resume their 2019-20 seasons.
This move is reportedly supported by the FA, clubs and players. Questions remain about how to end the FAWSL and FAWC season. Whatever conclusion, ending it should be a priority.
The English Football Association, after a meeting last Friday and a public statement this Monday, is consulting with FA WSL and WC clubs as how to conclude the 2019-20 season.
Cancellation of the 82 games remaining to be played in the two tiers of English women's football is the expected outcome.
While their Premier League and Championship male counterparts push forward to try to resume and finish their season, there are several reasons for the current lack of attempts to resume the remainder of the season on the women's side and why this is best for all.
Operational, logistical and financial concerns
Operational and logistical concerns are the first factor.
A plan had been floated in mid-April to complete the FAWSL remaining games in a centralized location, most likely the FA's St George's Park. These plans have since been described as too complex to carry out.
Due to the semi-professional nature of the FAWC no equivalent centralized plan was floated for the second tier.
Since this was originally reported, no plans have been made public for a non-centralised finalisation for either tier's season, again largely due to the operational and logistical difficulties associated with concluding.
Moreover, financial considerations in resumption have also been a concern.
An estimate by FA Women's Championship side Lewes FC puts the cost of finishing the 2019-20 season for both the professional FAWSL and second flight semi-professional FAWC at greater than three million pounds.
This estimate covers the cost of coronavirus testing as well as the additional player wages for the two months currently required to finish the season.
For many smaller clubs, this is a prohibitive amount at a time where no revenue is coming in.
As both top levels of English women's football were originally already supposed to have come to a conclusion, it has been reported by the Telegraph that clubs are against a continuation of the season beyond this point.
Player safety, fitness and psychology
There are also concerns to do with player safety.
Unlike their Premier League and men's Championship counterparts, many FAWSL and FAWC backrooms have little staff.
Combining adequate playing conditions with the complex requirements of shielding players from COVID-19 could be beyond some of their current capabilities.
Even with adequate staff, COVID-19 prevention is not failsafe.
Six Premier League players from three clubs have already tested positive since returning for training, some being asymptomatic. Calls have been put forward as to the safety of resumption and whether players are being used as test subjects.
Even if resumption of training was possible, the capability of women's players to return to play within a short span of time is questionable.
It has been reported that nearly every club has given players training regiments to follow while in lockdown started in March.
However, unlike their more affluent male counterparts, most top female footballers in England do not have home gyms, large backyards and access to top-level training equipment.
The last FAWSL games were back in February, nearly 3 months ago. Resuming a season at this point without a proper "pre-season" would lead to a lower level of quality of play and an increased chance of injury.
There is also a psychological aspect related to the resumption of play. Sam Kerr's agent Alan Naigeon when speaking to The Guardian stated,
"A lot of WSL players don't want to restart because they've checked out mentally. They don't want to go through another pre-season. And if they are going to go through one they just want it to be meaningful, not to just go and play two games and get stopped again. Its hard for them."
There is also the geographic problem of resumption of play. Not all FAWSL players are currently in England.
While Sam Kerr stated in late April that she was in London, Jacynta Galabadaarachchi was allowed by West Ham United to return to Australia in late March.
A return at this time to an uncertain plan in a country with significant coronavirus cases is concerning.
Problems with concluding the season at present
So while concluding the season seems both unlikely and unwise, questions exist as to how to come to a 2019-20 season conclusion.
Four different factors need to be addressed, specifically, they are promotion, relegation, FAWSL and FAWC Champions and the UEFA Champions League.
The first factor is promotion and relegation between the second-tier FA Women's Championship and the FA WSL.
With the cancellation of all levels of women's below the FAWC, this means there will no promotion to the FAWC and no relegation from the Championship.
The FA has not stated whether no relegation and promotion would also occur between the second and first-tier if the seasons finish as is.
Aston Villa are currently top of the FAWC, six points ahead of second-place Sheffield United. Liverpool FC are at the bottom of the FAWSL, one point behind second to last place Birmingham City.
Whether Villa would be satisfied with another season in the second tier despite their lead is not known. Whether Liverpool would be happy with relegation, without being given a fighting chance, is questionable.
One option is to follow the Spanish League's decision to promote from the second tier with no relegations for next season only.
The original FAWSL had a goal of up to 14 fully professional top division teams. Having only a promotion to the FAWSL with no relegation down could be a method to get closer to that from the current 12 teams in the FAWSL.
There is also the question as who to declare the winner of the season. When the season was suspended Manchester City lead the league with 40 points, with Chelsea FC one point behind with 39 points and Arsenal FC in third place with 36 points.
However, both Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC had a game in hand.
One method of declaring a champion could be to award the places by points per game ratio. With this calculation, Chelsea FC would win the season with City in second place and Arsenal keeping their third point.
Perhaps more important to clubs though then a 2019-20 season winner are the two teams who claim next season's UEFA Champions League spots. It is questionable whether Arsenal FC would be satisfied to miss out when the top three positions are so close.
Importance of looking ahead
Whatever decisions are made should the season end at present, arguably the biggest decisions are yet to come.
Women's football has made leaps and bounds in the last few years, especially in England which for years seemed to be behind the curve in terms of professionalization and participation.
As the COVID-19 pandemic associated financial crisis will have an impact on women's football, like all other industries and sports, ensuring that the gains in professionalization and participation are not lost is primordial.
The English FA, therefore, has the dual difficulty of finding a method of ensuring that the next season it is of the FAWSL and the FAWC can go ahead safely while ensuring the financial long term viability of both leagues.
This will require preparation and coordination. Getting properly ready for 2020-21 should be the focus at present.
This would better ensure the long term of the women's game in England instead of the short term problem of a season already written off as a foregone conclusion.