Ahead of the new season kicking off on Sunday, Palace Ladies chairman Richard Spokes reflects on an eventful few months for the club and reveals his hopes for the months ahead.
What a summer that was! Without a ball being kicked, we went through as many emotions as in any game that we’ve played in.
Following a very strong bid to join the elite in tier two of the women’s game, the disappointment of the news that the FA had decided that we had just missed out on one of the available places came as a real blow. However, as with so many times in Palace history, this adversity acted as the catalyst for what came next.
Amongst a tidal wave of reaction and support from Palace fans and very vocal concern and disappointment from Steve Parish, this was an issue that was clearly not going away quietly. The following few weeks saw momentum gather and included decisions being made by two other clubs to withdraw from the second tier, citing the ever-increasing financial obligations as women’s football continues to grow. The result was a very late opportunity for Palace to take our deserved place within the new FA Women’s Championship.
So, as we look to start our season after only five weeks of planning time, we are now just one step away from the fully professional Super League.
Amidst the frantic activity, we have been keen to target experienced talent within our new league and have signed some eye-catching names, including Ashlee Hincks and Jordan Butler from Millwall, as well as Hannah Mackenzie (Tottenham Hotspur) and Anneka Nuttall (Watford). In Ashlee and Anneka we have two former WSL2 captains, and we have bolstered the front line with former Gillingham top scorer Kallie Balfour.
Despite these and other new additions, we have retained a loyal group of Palace favourites, forming a squad that we believe will give us the best chance of survival this season and allow for future development at this level.
We will continue to play our matches at Bromley FC this season, including league and cup games that will see the visits of clubs such as Manchester United and Chelsea. Following two Continental Tyres Cup group stage games, we host our first league game against Leicester City on Sunday, at which we will show our gratitude to our fans for all the support provided over the summer.
From us all, a huge thank you for your backing and we look forward to having you join us at games throughout the season.
Palace start their Women's Championship season at home to Leicester City on Sunday 9th August in a 2pm kick-off. Tickets are priced at just £5 for adults and £2.50 for Palace season ticket holders, Paid Members and over-65, while under-16s go free!