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When will there be female managers in the English Premier League?

Wenger said he was “convinced” that there would be a female manager in the Premier league “soon”.

A lot has happened since Andy Gray and Richard Key’s infamous off-air remarks six years ago.

“The game’s gone mad," they decried, remarking on the presence of female officials in the men’s game.

Unfortunately for them, like the following loss of both their jobs, neither saw what kind of future was coming.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger’s comments are more indicative of what is next for women’s football. When asked at the Football Writer’s Association Gala about the prospect of female managers in the men’s game, Wenger pointed towards the success of his fellow compatriot Corinne Diacre.

Diacre, the manager of the second division French club Clermont Foot 63, is the only female manager in the higher leagues of Europe. Her club finished 12th in the league last year, but the previous year were close to promotion.

Diacre also recently revealed that she had been approached by a Ligue 1 team, but turned them down as she wanted to continue her work at Clermont Foot till her contract ends.

Wenger went on to say that he was “convinced” that there would be a female manager in the Premier league “soon”.

Felicia Pennant, the editor-in-chief of the women’s football and fashion zine SEASON is similarly optimistic. She likes to think that there’ll be a female manager in the Premier league “in the next ten years”.

The optimism is a large part due to the success of England’s Lionesses this summer. Their semi-final exit to Holland in this year’s Euros were watched by over four million people on Channel 4 and received widespread coverage in the press.

Pennant does however note that “the hype and euphoria of the Women’s Euro 2017 seems to have already died down as the men’s football season is restarting”.

A report published by the FA in March on the future of the women’s game states that the organisation aims to double both the number of registered women’s teams from 6,000 to 12,000 and increase the average attendance of international matches from 11,000 to 22,000.

Greg Clarke, the chairman of the FA, believes that “women’s football is the biggest single opportunity for us to grow the game”.

Clarke is putting his money where his mouth is.

More money has been allocated to the women’s game in England than other country since the last women's European championship, and England has the fastest growing numbers of female football players in Europe. It is the currently the fourth largest team sport in the country, behind men's football, cricket and rugby.

The FA has grand ambitions for it to overtake both men's rugby and cricket soon. 

These ambitions led to the announcement this week that England will bid to hold Euro 2021.

Baroness Sue Campbell, the head of women’s football in the FA, added that "This is another wonderful opportunity to maintain the momentum around women’s football and the feel-good factor generated by the Lionesses in the Netherlands. I’m right behind the bid.”

While there is certainly much momentum surrounding the women's game at the moment, it should be noted that only five managers in last season’s Women’s Super League were women and only 1 per cent of the people who hold a UEFA Pro coaching license are female.

Aubrey Cooper, FA's recent hire for the newly created position of Head of Women's Coach Development, helped launch Women's High Performance Centres in partnership with 10 universities last month, which she hopes "will help to get more female coaches qualified". 

Cooper also noted that in order to promote more women in the professional game, the 37,000 female coaches that are currently qualified must be "given the oppurtunity to progress in the game" and that "clubs need to be open minded to considering women's managers". 

When asked when she believes there will a female manager in the Premier League, Cooper seems confident: "There are women capable to make that step now." 

Perhaps, the future is closer than we imagined. 

 

 

 

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Forget planning for no deal. The government isn't really planning for Brexit at all

The British government is simply not in a position to handle life after the EU.

No deal is better than a bad deal? That phrase has essentially vanished from Theresa May’s lips since the loss of her parliamentary majority in June, but it lives on in the minds of her boosters in the commentariat and the most committed parts of the Brexit press. In fact, they have a new meme: criticising the civil service and ministers who backed a Remain vote for “not preparing” for a no deal Brexit.

Leaving without a deal would mean, among other things, dropping out of the Open Skies agreement which allows British aeroplanes to fly to the United States and European Union. It would lead very quickly to food shortages and also mean that radioactive isotopes, used among other things for cancer treatment, wouldn’t be able to cross into the UK anymore. “Planning for no deal” actually means “making a deal”.  (Where the Brexit elite may have a point is that the consequences of no deal are sufficiently disruptive on both sides that the British government shouldn’t  worry too much about the two-year time frame set out in Article 50, as both sides have too big an incentive to always agree to extra time. I don’t think this is likely for political reasons but there is a good economic case for it.)

For the most part, you can’t really plan for no deal. There are however some things the government could prepare for. They could, for instance, start hiring additional staff for customs checks and investing in a bigger IT system to be able to handle the increased volume of work that would need to take place at the British border. It would need to begin issuing compulsory purchases to build new customs posts at ports, particularly along the 300-mile stretch of the Irish border – where Northern Ireland, outside the European Union, would immediately have a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, which would remain inside the bloc. But as Newsnight’s Christopher Cook details, the government is doing none of these things.

Now, in a way, you might say that this is a good decision on the government’s part. Frankly, these measures would only be about as useful as doing your seatbelt up before driving off the Grand Canyon. Buying up land and properties along the Irish border has the potential to cause political headaches that neither the British nor Irish governments need. However, as Cook notes, much of the government’s negotiating strategy seems to be based around convincing the EU27 that the United Kingdom might actually walk away without a deal, so not making even these inadequate plans makes a mockery of their own strategy. 

But the frothing about preparing for “no deal” ignores a far bigger problem: the government isn’t really preparing for any deal, and certainly not the one envisaged in May’s Lancaster House speech, where she set out the terms of Britain’s Brexit negotiations, or in her letter to the EU27 triggering Article 50. Just to reiterate: the government’s proposal is that the United Kingdom will leave both the single market and the customs union. Its regulations will no longer be set or enforced by the European Court of Justice or related bodies.

That means that, when Britain leaves the EU, it will need, at a minimum: to beef up the number of staff, the quality of its computer systems and the amount of physical space given over to customs checks and other assorted border work. It will need to hire its own food and standards inspectors to travel the globe checking the quality of products exported to the United Kingdom. It will need to increase the size of its own regulatory bodies.

The Foreign Office is doing some good and important work on preparing Britain’s re-entry into the World Trade Organisation as a nation with its own set of tariffs. But across the government, the level of preparation is simply not where it should be.

And all that’s assuming that May gets exactly what she wants. It’s not that the government isn’t preparing for no deal, or isn’t preparing for a bad deal. It can’t even be said to be preparing for what it believes is a great deal. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.