BELLES boss John Buckley believes the club’s new six-figure sponsorship deal will help level the playing field in the Women’s Super League, writes Liam Hoden.
The Belles have been the poor relation in terms of finances in the FAWSL so far but will be able to invest in more experienced players after joining forces with Innovation Financial Services Ltd in a three-year deal.
Buckley told the Free Press: “This is a fantastic deal that will really help the club in the long term.
“We’ve not been able to compete with other clubs financially but this is going to give us a lot more weight, particularly in the second half of this season and next.
“We’ve not been too far away on the field and just being able to add that little bit of experience to the squad will make the world of difference.”
Innovation are a Bawtry based company offering a wide range of financial services, particularly to professional footballers.
The company remains the only one accredited by both the English and Scottish Football Associations.
Buckley feels the company’s experience in football will make for a strong relationship with the Belles.
He said: “These are football people – one of the partners, Hugh McAuley used to play for Liverpool.
“We know we’re going to be in good hands with these people and all our meetings have been relaxed because we’ve hit it off straight away.”
On the field, the Belles were hit by late heartbreak as they chased their first points of the season at Bristol Academy Ladies on Saturday evening.
Beth England looked to have snatched a late point for the Belles with a last minute free kick.
But Bristol’s Grace McCatty netted deep into injury time to snatch the win for the hosts.
Buckley said: “The girls were devastated at the end, some of them were even in tears.
“But I was really proud of what they did because it was the best they’ve played and I thought we deserved to win it.
“We’re not far away from that first win at all but luck isn’t going our way right now which is always the case when you’re at the bottom.
“I’m confident we’ll be off the mark soon because we’re almost there.
“I think we could honestly say we we’ve only been outclassed in one half so far this season, against Birmingham.
“Other than that we’ve been really competitive.”
With new financial backing confirmed, Buckley is hoping to enter the transfer market during the mid-season break in July and add experience to his side.
But he will not lose faith in the youngsters who have been involved so far this season.
He said: “We’re crying out for a bit of experience in the side and it can make all the difference in tough times like the one we’re going through.
“But I’ll not be abandoning the youngsters because they’re the future of this club.
“It’ll be better for them not to be playing every week at this stage of their careers.
“We’ve been in a difficult situation because we’ve not been able to afford experience but hopefully that can change now.
“On Saturday we were up against players who are full time and it’s the same most of the time.
“That makes a massive difference.
“But the positive aspect is that we’re not being blitzed by these teams, we’re giving them a game and not falling far short.
“A few right additions here and there will take us to that next level and the wins will soon start coming.
“I’m really positive about the second half of the season and next season as well.”
The Belles are back in action on Wednesday evening when they travel to Lincoln Ladies (7.30pm).