Sunderland Ladies’ double demotion: the questions Baroness Sue Campbell won’t answer

Photo courtesy Sunderland AFC Ladies

Forgive Salut! Sunderland for being appalled at the double demotion of SAFC Ladies, guilty of no wrongdoing, and thus taking another dig at the FA, SAFC and maybe the SAFC Ladies management itself. Since no one has properly explained, no one knows who is most to blame …

As everyone who cares will know, Sunderland AFC Ladies have been handed what amounts to a double demotion, excluded from the Women’s Super League and its second tier despite finishing seventh top at the highest level of the English game.

I regard this as a scandalous affront to natural justice. The FA thinks it is somehow helping “women’s football to grow and prosper in the future”, though it will not explain – specifically – how such grotesquely unjust an exclusion of a successful team fits into this noble ideal.

Baroness Sue Campbell is the FA’s head of the women’s game. She keeps a straight face when claiming the process of deciding who may be included in the WSL, and who must be excluded, is fair and rewards “clubs willing to up their game and commit to the plans”.

Read moreSunderland Ladies’ double demotion: the questions Baroness Sue Campbell won’t answer

Big Sam for Sunderland. Klinsmann, Howe or whoever you want for England

Sixer looks forward to days in the sun
Sixer: ‘do I get double time if it’s hot on my paper round?’

Pete Sixsmith casts some light, and also some wisdom, on talk of Big Sam for the England job, finding relief in reports – albeit from an occasionally dodgy source – that the FA don’t want him anyway …

Read moreBig Sam for Sunderland. Klinsmann, Howe or whoever you want for England

How dare we? Where Man Utd lead others will follow.

Jake suspects a fondness for making mischief
Jake suspects a fondness for making mischief


John McCormick writes: I was supposed to be enjoying the onset of Spring in the Yorkshire Dales. It wasn’t quite like that, and the internet connection I had was also short on promise. Never mind, I’ve negotiated the weather and the M6 and am once again able to bring you my thoughts.

In this latest instalment of our new How Dare We? series, rather than bombard you with dodgy statistics and contentious argument, I’m making a case for referees and rules. How dare we? you might ask, given the going rate for fines when half a Premiership team abuses a ref is less than the income from 1,000 spectators at a single match. It’s just part part of the service, ladies and gentlemen, which we spare no expense in bringing to you without fear or favour.


Read moreHow dare we? Where Man Utd lead others will follow.

Hillsborough: truths that were always known, a victory that remains bitter-sweet

Scarves and flags at the Hillsborough memorial, AnfieldImage: Ben Sutherland

In his moving words here yesterday on the long-delayed vindication of Liverpool supporters caught in the horror of Hillsborough 1989, Jeremy Robson mentioned being at one non-Sunderland game that afternoon as news of the disaster spread and thinking instantly of a close friend who was another, the Liverpool-Notts Forest FA Cup semi-final. That friend was Mick Goulding and this, reproduced with his consent from the Blackcats email list, is how Mick recalls an avoidable tragedy and the systematic distortion of the reasons it occurred …

Read moreHillsborough: truths that were always known, a victory that remains bitter-sweet

Off, off, off: an improbable defence of Roberto Mancini

What, exactly, is un-English about standing by the side of the football pitch and waving an imaginary card when a player from your side goes down under a crude tackle?

It is widely reported that Roberto Mancini has been warned he could face FA disciplinary action if he persists in gesticulating towards referees in an attempt to persuade him to send off offending opponents.

Read moreOff, off, off: an improbable defence of Roberto Mancini

Liverpool’s Friendly fire: wrong on the penalty, wrong on the red

John MensahImage: Addick-edKevin

Throughout a lively, mostly healthy but at times acrimonious debate with Liverpool fans, we have made no attempt to disguise the shortcomings of Sunderland in Sunday’s match.

We have said firmly that we lost not because of bad decisions by match officials but because we could not muster a shot on target for 86 minutes.

And we are generally consistent in our acknowledgement that referees and their linesmen rarely cheat but are as prone as players, managers and fans to human error. Indeed, players make many more errors and these often lead to lost games or lost leads.

Read moreLiverpool’s Friendly fire: wrong on the penalty, wrong on the red

Theo Walcott: why the FA rejected absurd call for retrospective punishment

Monsieur Salut did not expect to have to spring to the defence of Theo Walcott again following the recent piece headlined The star’s apology to Arsenal and Leeds that changed cheating debate. He felt the need all the same …

While we had the ear of the FA – on the question of Darren Bent, Fabio Capello and criteria for England selection (which do not, we were assured, include geography, ie where people play) – it seemed a good idea to ask about Theo Walcott’s confession that he dived in the hope of winning a penalty just when Arsenal most needed one.

The News of the World, not your favourite paper if its staff have been listening to your private phone calls, had two pieces that caught my eye on Sunday.

Read moreTheo Walcott: why the FA rejected absurd call for retrospective punishment

Fabio Capello, Bent and Villa: a storm in a teacup?

CHELSEA (0) v liverpool (0)  Mark Freeman

Andy Humble, out in Oz, was among the first to raise it, deploring at Salut! Sunderland the reported comment of Fabio Capello to the effect that Darren Bent had improved his chances of playing for England by moving from Sunderland to Aston Villa.

Read moreFabio Capello, Bent and Villa: a storm in a teacup?

Prime Minister drawn into women’s football scandal


It had to happen sooner or later. Gordon Brown has become embroiled in the scandal over the exclusion of Sunderland Women’s football club from the proposed Super League of eight teams – despite being current Premier League leaders, FA (Women’s) Cup finalists last season and a team containing nine international players at different levels.

The FA has been maintaining the apparent fiction that no decision has yet been made, even though the club says it has been told – by, presumably, the FA – that Sunderland’s strong case for a place has been brushed aside on commercial and marketing grounds.

Among the many football supporters outraged by this latest piece of discriminatory nonsense from the FA were non-Sunderland fans, including Wull Rowan from our good friends at FootballUnited (

Will decided to start a petition with the aim of shaming the FA into making the decision that would surely strike any neutral observer as decent and fair: offer Sunderland WFC a place.

Read morePrime Minister drawn into women’s football scandal

Ha’way the Lasses? Haddaway says the FA

It is not such a shock that women’s football in England is to have a super league trimmed to eight clubs.

What are shocking and, if true, an utter disgrace, are reports that the current leaders of the women’s Premier division, Sunderland, have been excluded from this elite.

The FA has been responsible for plenty of crass decision-making over the years. This is not just crass but supremely unjust.

The chairman of the Sunderland ladies, Maurice Alderson, has been told of the decision, which he describes as a “kick in the teeth”, according to a report in The Guardian.

He pointed out that a strong bid was assembled with help from Sunderland AFC. As well as being current league leaders, albeit having played more games than the clubs closest behind them, Arsenal and Doncaster Belles, Sunderland – (pictured last season, by courtesy of Sunderland WFC) -reached last season’s FA Cup final and have nine current internationals at various age levels.

The Sunderland Echo says the club was told the bid had failed on commercial and marketing grounds. The Guardian was unable to elicit a meaningful comment from the FA beyond an assertion that the adjudication stage of the application process was not yet complete.

Either the FA is, er, being economical with the truth or Mr Alderson is somehow mistaken in stating that the club has not only been excluded – but has been told of the decision.

The FA deserves a sincere apology if the reports turn out to be incorrect – but owes the Sunderland, North East (Newcastle ladies were also excluded) an abject apology of its own if really has taken a decision of staggering injustice.

Colin Randall