A new chapter for Portsmouth Women

Published: 19/06/2023
By Ian Chiverton

On 5th June Portsmouth Women released a statement titled “A New Era” in which they announced the team would be turning semi-professional from the start of the 2023/24 season.

Without a good knowledge of the women’s game and which leagues are professional, semi-professional or amateur the context of this announcement would be hard to quantify or contextualise.

There’s no understating it, this is the start of a huge chapter in the history of our Women’s team. Portsmouth Women currently play in tier 3 in a league made up of semi-professional and amateur teams. Although amateur is just a label given to those who don’t pay their players, it’s not a reflection on the unbelievable commitment and professional behaviours of the players and staff in those teams.

It’s a fiercely competitive division, proven last season when anyone of Watford, Portsmouth, Ipswich or Oxford could have won the title going into the last couple of rounds of matches.

During manager Jay Sadlers 7 year reign Portsmouth Women have moved forward at a steady pace but made a huge jump last season.  Jay brought in almost half a squad of young, unproven players ahead of the start of the campaign. To mount a title challenge was nothing short of outstanding and left the players, staff and supporters wanting more.

The only realistic way Portsmouth could do that was to turn semi-professional.  Turning semi-professional opens up a pool of players previously unobtainable and also allows you to reward those players who got you this far with paid contracts.

With Portsmouth’s squad already containing a wealth of talented young players I would expect Jay to mainly focus on bringing in experience.  This league is relentless and its short duration of only 22 games means your title race can be over if you have a bad run of 2-3 games.  You need experience, players who have played under that type of pressure.

Turning semi-professional if by no means a guarantee of success.  There are several clubs in the division who pay players and at least a couple of could be classed as fully semi-professional. It is however a huge step in the right direction for the women’s side.

It means girls like by daughter, who is currently in Portsmouth youth system can now dream of being a paid footballer wearing the Portsmouth shirt. A dream many players previously never had the opportunity to do.

We shouldn’t forget the blood, sweat and tears put in by so many players, staff and owners over many years to get the women’s side to where it is today.  Every single one of them deserves credit and the future generations of Pompey Women fans and players will benefit from their work for generations to come.

It’s a thumbs up for the current owners as well.  Some might see this backing as a bit overdue, but there are no complaints.  5 years ago Eric Eisner made me a promise he would look after the women’s team during their ownership. This move has reassured me that his family take that promise seriously.

Following the announcement Jay Sadler joined us on our YouTube channel Pompey Women Vlogs to answer all the fans questions about this announcement.