It is an extremely frustrating time for Argyle Ladies manager Dave Leonard, who is completely at a loss as to what to do with his squad for the upcoming season.
As it stands, following a meeting of the FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship board, the target start date for the 2020/2021 Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship campaigns will be the weekend of September 5-6, 2020.
However, there has been no mention of the next level below, the National League, where Argyle play. Watford, who were in pole position at the time of the lockdown, have been informed by the FA that they cannot gain promotion to the Championship, and that there will there be no promotions or relegations further down the pyramid.
A worried Leonard said: “I have no idea what the future holds. I have no idea when we are going to play until we get the green light from the FA.”
At this present moment, Leonard has a squad full of free agents. Normally, at this time of the year, players are signing up for the new season, while others may be released. Registrations have to be made, with players return to training, and pre-season friendly games also need to be arranged before the season would be due to start in August.
Leonard said: “I have players from Somerset, Cornwall, Exeter, and South Devon - and even Lydia Huntley is trapped in Kent. Until I know what's happening, how can I arrange training for six players at a time [which is the current guideline]?
“I am not doing anything. The girls have been doing individual training – and until I know what's happening with the league I can’t do anything. I am not going to bring them all down to train in a group on their own.”
Leonard has compared the situation with the men’s game, and has knowledge of current protocols through his son, Ryan, a former Argyle academy prospect who now plays for Championship side Millwall.
With the Championship planning to push on and complete their season, a rigorous coronavirus testing schedule has been implemented, with testing occurring twice a week.
Leonard said; “We would never be able to do that. For clubs to play they are being tested twice a week, we are not in that position.
“For the good intentions I want to play, I can’t get my head around how we are going to be tested twice a week. It is not only us, and I don't know how local football is going to deal with that. Lots of questions to ask, but not a lot answered.”
Leonard concluded: “I am not going to start pre-season training on the 1st of July if we are not going to be back until the middle of September, I have no idea what the future holds.”