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Women’s Super League, Championship seasons canceled

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This England’s Women’s Super League season will not return from the coronavirus pause, opening a great debate over who will be champions.

The English Football Association made the announcement Monday, also announcing that the second-tier Championship has been canceled.

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The WSL was in a heated title fight, with Man City leading the table on points with 40 but Chelsea’s 39 coming in one fewer match. Arsenal was four points back of City with a match-in-hand.

The top two sides also qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

From The FA:

Following full and thorough consultation with the clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has discussed various recommendations which will be sent to the FA Board to determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019-20 season.

This will include identifying the entries for the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League, which would be based on sporting merit from the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season.

There’s also relegation to consider, with Liverpool’s women dead last but within a win of two clubs.

Promotion from the Championship would be a little more clearcut, as Aston Villa has a six-point edge on the field.

Could there be a playoff to decide a title winner? Might the FA opt not to name a winner?

Chelsea was unbeaten but there’s certainly no guarantee they’d win out nor would giving City the title make any sense. The Blues took four of six points from City.

Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal are the three previous title winners.

Report: England manager Gareth Southgate agrees to 30 percent pay cut

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England manager Gareth Southgate has agreed to a 30 percent pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic, our partners at Sky Sports reported on Saturday.

[ MORE: What PL clubs are doing to help during coronavirus ] 

Southgate’s move, which is reportedly expected to be confirmed by the Football Association (FA) next week, comes hours after the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) released a statement on behalf of the Premier League players responding to proposed pay cuts.

A FA spokesperson told Sky Sports the following: “The financial implications of the coronavirus are not yet known however, as a not-for-profit organization, we want to ensure that we take the appropriate course of action to support the wider organization and our employees.

“We will make a further announcement on our next steps in due course.”

On Friday, Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe – and a handful of technical staff personnel – became the first Premier League manager to take a voluntary pay cut. Howe’s “significant, voluntary” pay cuts were done in light of the club furloughing non-playing employees throughout the organization, joining Tottenham, Norwich, Newcastle and Liverpool.

Ancelotti charged by FA for red card incident v. Man Utd

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Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has been charged with improper conduct after a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Goodison Park on Sunday.

He has until Thursday to respond to the charge.

Ancelotti was shown a red card during an on-field, post-match argument with referee Chris Kavanagh after a controversial VAR ruling denied Everton a stoppage-time winner.

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“I didn’t disrespect the referee,” Ancelotti said after the game. “He knows this. But if I have to be banned, I will go to the stands at Stamford Bridge. It’s not a big problem, honestly.”

Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin looked to have won the match when his shot was put into the United goal by Harry Maguire, but VAR pulled the goal off the board.

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson remained prone on the pitch after De Gea saved his shot, and moved his feet out of the way to allow Calvert-Lewin’s rebound effort to slide inside the near post.

The FA’s statement says his “language and/or behavior” is in question.

Trials of concussion substitutes could be coming to soccer

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LONDON (AP) Concussion substitutions could be trialed in English soccer next season after proposals were presented to the game’s lawmakers.

The Premier League has given an initial suggestion to the rule-making International Football Association Board proposing that the current three-minute period to assess players for concussion would be used to determine if a “head injury replacement” is required.

A framework from the league’s medical advisor seen by The Associated Press said that if there are no immediate signs of concussion then the player would continue to be observed while back in action. If clearer concussion symptoms become evident, then the player can be replaced by a special substitution beyond the three changes currently allowed.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The English Football Association prefers allowing players to be replaced at least temporarily for 10 minutes to allow a fuller concussion assessment, a person with knowledge of their thinking told the AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the FA’s thinking ahead of the annual meeting of IFAB on Feb. 29 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

The FA along with the other British federations hold half of the eight seats on the IFAB board, with international governing body FIFA controlling the other four votes to change laws.

The international players’ union shares the view of the English FA that temporary substitutes should be considered.

“We welcome discussions by football stakeholders with a view to safeguarding players who suffer a concussion,” FIFPRO general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann said. “FIFPRO strongly believes doctors must be given enough time and space to assess a player with a suspected concussion in order to enable them to make the correct decision on whether he or she can stay on the pitch. In our view, this means they must be provided with significantly more than three minutes.”

The English FA has also been exploring advice that youngsters should restrict heading the ball in training sessions.

A Scottish study published last year put a fresh focus on the need for footballing authorities to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow found former professional players in Scotland were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die from dementia. Researchers compared the causes of death of 7,676 Scottish men who played soccer with 23,000 similar men from the general population born between 1900 and 1976. Over a median of 18 years of study, 1,180 players and 3,807 of the others died. The players had a lower risk of death from any cause until age 70.

However, they had a 3.5 times higher rate of death from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. In absolute terms, that risk remained relatively small – 1.7% among former players and 0.5% for the comparison group.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Women’s soccer in England secures record sponsorship deal

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LONDON (AP) Women’s soccer in England will receive record levels of investment after its top league secured a sponsorship deal reportedly worth more than 10 million pounds ($13.2 million) over the next three seasons.

Barclays will become the first sponsor of the Women’s Super League in what the English Football Association is saying is the biggest ever investment in British women’s sports by a brand.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up v. Ecuador? ]

The deal, which was announced on Wednesday, runs from the start of the 2019-20 season through July 2022. Barclays was the title sponsor of the Premier League in men’s soccer from 2004-16 and still has links with the league.

Kelly Simmons, the FA’s Director of Women’s Professional Game, says the “record, multimillion-pound commitment will impact all levels of the game.”

The Super League, which is Europe’s only fully professional domestic female soccer league, will now have prize money for the first time. A total of 500,000 pounds ($660,000) will be distributed to clubs based on their final league positions.

In another boost for the women’s game, FIFA says French telecommunications giant Orange has become the sixth sponsor of this year’s Women’s World Cup in France.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports