Doncaster Belles COMMENT: Time to ring the alarm Belles

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Fast forward to the year 2033. It’s football, but not as we know it.

The Champions League has morphed into the European Super League. Don’t get too excited though.

Because if you’ve not got a wealthy owner or the right name, you’re not invited. If you’re name’s not on the list, you’re not coming in.

History counts for nothing either. It’s all about the h£r£ and now.

This is a competition for only the richest franchises in Europe. A new toy for the game’s billionaire owners, a new way for them to line their pockets.

Licenses for the league are granted on the basis of commercial power, stadium size and the number of customers on a club’s database. Competition is secondary. Promotion and relegation nonexistent.

Welcome to an exclusive arena for the game’s big names and big hitters, a closed shop. The elite shall be protected at all costs.

Commerce comes before competition, while profit margins matter more than points or positions. It’s a scary, sobering prospect.

Flash back to the present day. And Doncaster of all places suddenly finds itself at the epicentre of a footballing volcano, waiting to explode.

A passionate outpouring of emotion and anger from the people who make this glorious game what it is - the fans - is bubbling up in South Yorkshire.

Yes, you read that correctly, Doncaster now finds itself slap bang in the middle of a furore that could have serious repercussions for the future of football, not just in this country but in each corner of the globe.

Why? Because the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) appears to be well before its time.

We’ve already reached the year 2033 in the land of the women’s game.

The FAWSL, launched in 2011, was designed to drive women’s football forward by improving standards and projecting more positive PR on a sport which struggled to capture the public’s imagination and support.

Over the last two years it has done exactly that.

Attendances are on the rise, television companies are queuing up for a piece of the action and, more importantly, England now boast a jolly good team. Not world-beaters yet, but getting there.

However, last month the league’s administrators made a short-sighted decision that is a backward step not just for the women’s game but for anyone who loves football and fair play.

When the FA relegated Doncaster Rovers Belles to the new FAWSL Second Division, for reasons not yet explained, it was not just a kick in the teeth for one of the most famous women’s teams on the planet - but everyone who loves the beautiful game.

Decisions like this set a dangerous precedent. Bang goes the concepts of competition, fair play and a level playing field to do it all on.

People will take some convincing that it is a decision not based on the scourge of modern football - money.

And money will talk even louder in football in years to come than it does now - unless the paying customer makes a stand.

The people of Doncaster can now do their bit not just to save the Belles from a ludicrous relegation, but to also make some sort of protest about the slippery slope that football appears to be treading.

It might just prove to be the wake up call that this town needs too.

“What do we have to do to get a crowd at Doncaster?”

That was the general gist of an FA representative’s comments to me as the Keepmoat Stadium emptied ahead of Belles’ recent home game against Chelsea.

Another Rovers double-header had failed miserably in its attempts to boost a sparse crowd.

Those disappointing figures, although not a defence for the outrageous decision that followed, have not gone unnoticed at FA headquarters.

It’s those poor turn-outs and a perceived lack of interest which I believe lie at the heart of Belles’ relegation.

No fault of the players, not a reflection on the past - but a perception that Doncaster doesn’t really care about its women’s team.

If only a small percentage of the people who were to quick to sign an online petition this week had supported the Belles in person, the club might not be in the position it now finds itself.

I guess it’s true what they say: ‘you don’t realise what you have until it’s gone.’

So if you do care about Belles, or you care about football, make sure you do something about it - before we reach 2033.

@paulgoodwinDFP