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    Portsmouth removed from Women’s FA Cup for rules breach denying them possible Arsenal dream tie

    PORTSMOUTH WOMEN have been ejected from the Women’s FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player in the last round of the competition.The breach happened during their 2-0 victory against Cheltenham in the second round of the competition last weekend.
    Portsmouth have been removed from the Women’s FA Cup for fielding an ineligible player in their second round win against CheltenhamCredit: PA
    As a result of the incident, the FA have decided to ban Pompey from the contest and award the win to Cheltenham instead.
    A statement on the FA’s website read: “We can confirm that Portsmouth Women have been removed from this season’s Vitality Women’s FA Cup, following the fielding of an ineligible player during their second round tie against Cheltenham Town Ladies on Sunday 4 April.
    “As a result, the tie has been awarded to Cheltenham Town and no further action will be taken against Portsmouth.”
    Pompey were looking forward to a potential fourth-round clash with WSL heavyweights Arsenal if they managed to dispose of Gillingham in the third round this weekend.
    The Gunners, who have won the trophy a record 14 times, will join the competition at the fourth stage along with other WSL and Championship clubs.
    Women’s FA Cup clashes resumed in March and April after initially being paused in January due to the Covid pandemic.
    But some clubs felt they were blindsided by the football chiefs’ decision to restart the competition.
    Manchester United boss Casey Stoney expressed her frustration about not being given a heads-up in regard to draws for fourth-round ties.
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    Portsmouth could have the chance to played Arsenal in the fourth round if they defeated GillinghamCredit: Alamy
    In March Stoney said: “I didn’t even know there was a draw, let’s put it that way.
    “So that was interesting that was done without the knowledge of the clubs.
    “Obviously, we’ve drawn teams that aren’t even currently training.
    “So, that fixture will only go ahead if those teams are tested and those grounds are Covid safe otherwise it will have to be reversed.
    “It’s obviously a big day in the women’s calendar. But the safety of my players is always my priority.
    “I just would have liked to know there was actually a draw going ahead.

    “We should never be out of the loop when we’re having fixtures made or draws put in.
    “So yeah, I’d like a little bit more transparency on that next time.”
    The fourth round of the competition is set to take place on April 16 – 18.
    Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Stoney felt some clubs were “out of the loop” on draws for Women’s FA Cup fixturesCredit: Getty
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    Reading star Jess Fishlock says she uses her voice to help youngsters who are struggling to come out as gay

    JESS FISHLOCK has revealed she uses the difficulties she experienced coming out to inspire and protect youngsters contending with similar issues. The Wales midfield ace, who was awarded an MBE for her work within football, feels it is her duty to help empower young people within the LGBTQ community.
    Fishlock is using her platform to help young people within the LGBTQ communityCredit: PA
    By coming out the OL Reign ace, 35, wanted to stand up for vulnerable youngsters, especially in Wales.
    With the rise of social media trolls, Fishlock felt the need to come out more than ever, irrespective of how it might make anyone feel.
    Fishlock told the Game Changers podcast: “I mean, you see what social media and that is not, you know, it’s just not, just not…..nice.
    “But then I got to a point where I was like, you know what, like I’m kind of over that now.
    “Like my little sisters are older, my mom and dad need to just get over it, which, you know, they grew too.
    “And so I said, this is what I’m doing. Like I’m coming out because I don’t want anybody to go through what I went through basically.
    “And I want there to be visibility specifically in Wales specifically because there just isn’t enough for the youth.
    The Wales midfield star says there were not any role models for her to see growing upCredit: Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow
    “And I’m always, always an advocate for youth because I feel that they’re the most vulnerable and we let them down way too much.
    “So I’d made that decision. I run it, obviously, run it past my family.
    “It wasn’t going to sway my decision, but I felt like I needed to let them know because obviously the decisions that you make, they never really just implicate you.
    “They affect everybody and you have to be respectful for that, but they were super supportive and they knew that it was gonna be a tough ride.
    “But it was for the greater good almost, for other people to make sure that they didn’t have to go through kind of the way that I went through and how that affected me.”
    Fishlock, who made 19 Reading appearances on loan at the Royals this season, knows first hand how hard it can be for a youngster with nobody to talk to.
    When she was going through that difficult period, there were no role models she could look up to for inspiration, which she believes would have been a great help.
    The OL Reign star continued: “I think if you know, all of the sport that I was watching, if I knew that any of them were gay and openly gay and openly kind of not a problem then, yeah.
    “Maybe. I mean, I can’t say for sure, because I just don’t know what I would have felt like.
    “Definitely the lack of visibility and the fact that when I was growing up, the LGBTQ community was just completely underground,
    “Forced underground because of society and government rules and government kind of views on it.
    She has won an MBE for work within the LGBTQ communityCredit: Getty
    Fishlock has had an illustrious career for club and country and has 120 Wales international capsCredit: Getty
    “When that’s the situation, then you generally do grow up thinking that who you are and what you do is wrong.
    “So I’m more worried about there being a lack of visibility for the kids and the youth that kind of really, really, really, really need it.”
    Fishlock made the decision to come out to her relatives at the age of 16, which led to a difficult period.
    But the former Reading star now has a warm relationship with her parents who she regards as her ‘best friends’.
    Fishlock added: “I was just trying to figure out how to be gay.
    “And that was a difficult period. You know, my family had no issues with me being completely honest with the fact that it wasn’t straight sailing.
    “My Mum and Dad come from a different generation and they just didn’t understand what it was or what it meant.
    “So it took a lot of time, a lot of education, a lot of forgiveness really on both parts with how things kind of went a little bit and a lot of regrowing our relationships as them being my Mum and my Dad.
    “But also being like massive friends, you know, like they really are like my best friends.
    “I think our relationship really broke massively and then we had to rebuild and we did that over time.
    “That’s when I decided to come out publicly and on the BBC, and I did an article because I just said, look for so long, I have done what I’ve not wanted to do to protect our family.
    “Really, you know, ’cause they didn’t want my little sisters going to school and be like, ‘Oh, your sister’s gay’
    “I have two little sisters, I have to also protect them and not so much protect them just with the fact that I’m gay, but I have to protect them from other people.”
    The OL Reign star still aims to inspire many more young women by helping Wales Women qualify for a major tournament for the first time in their history.
    Wales narrowly missed out of qualifying for Euro 2022 but have appointed new manager Gemma Grainger to help them do so in the future.
    Grainger has the opportunity to get off to the right start with Wales’ friendlies against Canada and Denmark over the next week.
    And Fishlock has faith Grainger will lead the team on to great things.

    The country’s most capped player said: “Gemma is fabulous so everyone is looking forward to working together and reaching our goal.
    “Gemma was found to be the absolute best person for us and the first thing I did was congratulate her.
    “How she has been and carried herself with us and our group is nothing short of phenomenal.
    “She has already been a breath of fresh air and I have no doubt that she will get the best out of everyone in this group.”
    Hosted by Sue Anstiss MBE on The Game Changers podcast is supported by Barclays and is available across all platforms. For more information visit fearlesswomen.co.uk
    Wales have a new manager Grainger who Fishlock feels can help guide them to a major tournament and inspire many moreCredit: Getty
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    Man City and England ace Roebuck hits out at ‘unacceptable’ situation facing Birmingham Women

    ELLIE ROEBUCK has criticised the work conditions issues facing Birmingham’s women’s team and described the situation as ‘not good enough’. The Manchester City and England stopper is among a growing number of WSL stars speaking out in support of  Blues aces who have complained about their work environment. 
    Ellie Roebuck hopes Birmingham Women will be provided with ‘better facilities’ following the team’s complaint about work conditionsCredit: Getty
    The FA are due to investigate issues raised by Birmingham Women in a formal complaint letter to the club’s boardCredit: Getty
    Roebuck, 21, was speaking ahead of the Lionesses’ upcoming friendly clash with France. 
    The City star is part of a 24-player England squad taking part in a training camp ahead of the game, which will be their first on French soil since the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
    And the match takes place in a week in which Birmingham Women have made headlines following a formal complaint letter sent to their club’s board listing a number of work concerns. 
    Issues include problems with some players being paid below the minimum wage, lack of help with travel and hotels for away games and substandard physio and rehab facilities. 
    Roebuck told reporters: “It is a difficult one to comment but yes I am shocked. 
    “We’re making such good progressions both on and off the field, with the likes of the new broadcast deal, I’d like to think we are going in an upwards direction. 
    “Looking in from the outside, it’s not good enough. In the women’s game, we’re now at a level where that is not acceptable at all. 
    “I’m really lucky to be at a club where everything is top-level and the equality throughout the building is top drawer.
    “We all need to be at a level that can help players perform to the best of their ability. 
    “If they can be provided with better facilities, that will help the growth of the game and individuals. Hopefully, it gets resolved.”
    The BBC says the FA plans to conduct an investigation into the issues outlined in the complaint letter which it has seen along with The Telegraph. 
    Roebuck, 21, is part of a 24-player England squad taking part in a training camp ahead of the Lionesses’ clash with FranceCredit: Getty

    Other concerns reportedly listed include lack of payment for players without contracts and squad members being called on to play when not physically fit. 
    It has been reported the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have been liaising with senior members of Birmingham Women’s first-team this term. 
    And it is thought Blues boss Carla Ward has been acting as a mediator between her Birmingham players and the club’s board members. 
    The PFA are reported to have been liaising with Birmingham Women players this seasonCredit: Getty
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    Arsenal ace Vivianne Miedema hints at possible future move to Feyenoord after childhood club creates women team

    ARSENAL star Vivianne Miedeme has hinted at a possible future move to Feyenoord after they created a women’s team for the first time ever.The Dutch side announced the news last week and life-long fan Miedema took to social media to congratulate them.
    Arsenal star Vivenne Miedema said she hopes to play for Feyenoord who recently created a women team in the futureCredit: Getty
    Feyenoord were more than happy to welcome Miedema to the club
    She will follow in the footsteps of childhood idol Robin van Persie if she joins the Dutch side
    The Arsenal ace posted a pic on Instagram as a child donning the Eredivisie giants kit and shared her desire to play for them one day in the caption.
    She said: “What a great day for the club, women’s football and all the girls who have the dream of one day playing football for Feyenoord.
    “And hopefully in the future, I can also wear the Feyenoord shirt.”
    She was welcomed to the club with open arms who wrote, “You’re always welcome!” under the post.
    The 24-year-old’s current contract with the Gunners runs out at the end of next season and she is yet to commit her future to the club.
    Despite not yet signing a new deal she has said she has no plans to leave and would like to continue at the highest level.
    She told the Islington Gazette: “I have no plans to leave, I want to play against as many opponents as possible and at the highest level imaginable that is here in England.”
    Current Gunners boss Joe Montemurro announced his departure from the club at the end of the season and it remains to be seen if this will have an affect on Miedema’s decision.

    And a move back to her homeland will see her follow in the footsteps of her idol Robin van Persie – who played for the club when she was a child.
    He has had a major impact on her career thus far and was one of the factors in her joining Arsenal.
    In the stuff made of dreams, Miedema emulated her childhood hero when she surpassed his 50 goals to become the national team’s all-time top scorer, which he congratulated her for.
    She said: “When I grew up [Van Persie] was my idol. I overtook him as top goal scorer for the nation.
    “It was amazing he actually sent me a video and all that, it was really cool. He was just amazing, that’s the type of No 9 I want to be.
    “I’m a Feyenoord fan in Holland but with Van Persie going to Arsenal I’ve actually been an Arsenal fan.
    “I was an Arsenal fan when I was younger, I had all the shirts.
    “Everyone knows I’ve always been a Van Persie fan, he was a big hero here – in England as well – and so I love players like him.”
    The Gunners hot shot is yet to sign a new deal with the clubCredit: Getty
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    Sam Kerr in duel with Vivianne Miedema for goalscoring crown as battle for WSL Golden Boot heats up

    SAM KERR is in pole position to steal Vivianne Miedema’s goalscoring crown as the pair battle it out for the Women’s Super League Golden Boot.After Kerr’s hat-trick in Chelsea’s 6-0 thrashing of Birmingham on the weekend, both strikers now have an equal tally of 17 goals and five assists.
    Sam Kerr has scored 17 league goals in 19 WSL games this termCredit: Rex
    But a modest Kerr claims she is not interested in the individual accolade, and is focused on helping her Chelsea team-mates retain their WSL title.
    Speaking to Chelsea’s website, Kerr said: “There are a few people who are pretty close at the moment.
    “It feels good that I’m contributing to the team and I’m focusing on game-by-game.
    “It’s my job to score goals so I don’t look at those things, I just worry about where we are sitting in the table so at the moment it’s pretty good.”
    That sentiment will probably be shared by Miedema, whose Arsenal team are chasing Champions League qualification after missing out on European action this season.
    But with only four games left this term, the Dutch hot-shot will need to be at her best to retain her spot as the WSL’s highest-scoring finisher.
    The Arsenal ace has won the coveted prize for the past two seasons, and now only Kerr stands in her way of making it a treble.
    She also smashed the WSL all-time scoring record with 50 goals in 52 games in the 2019/20 season against rivals Tottenham.
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    Miedema has won the coveted WSL topscorer prize for the past two seasonsCredit: Getty
    And while Kerr has not yet won the accolade in England, she has done so in both Australia and the USA.
    The 27-year-old won the Golden Boot award five times in both countries, becoming the highest-scoring player in W-League at the time and currently in NWSL history.
    Despite her record, the Australia captain struggled to recreate her stunning form when she moved to Chelsea in 2019.
    Last term Kerr made four top-flight appearances and managed to score just once.

    The Matildas striker has had a remarkable turn-around this season, forming an irresistible rapport on the pitch with fellow Blues ace Fran Kirby.
    The pair have linked up so well that it has led boss Emma Hayes to compare their partnership to that of the legendary Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole duo that ran riot in the Premier League for Manchester United in the nineties
    But Miedema, widely regarded as the world’s best forward, will not give up her crown easily, so Kerr will have to be relentless to knock her off her perch in these last few games.
    Kerr has formed a remarkable partnership with Fran Kirby this season who has aided her in many of her goalsCredit: Getty
    Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
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    WSL stars show support for Birmingham Women players over work conditions row

    SEVERAL WSL stars have thrown their support behind Birmingham Women over their dispute with the club’s board over work conditions.First-team Blues players signed a letter sent to clubs’ chiefs voicing concerns over inadequate facilities, wages and medical support, according to The Telegraph.
    Fran Kirby is backing Birmingham Women players who have made a written complaint over work conditions to club board membersCredit: Getty
    And now WSL aces including Chelsea star Fran Kirby are making a stand in solidarity with Blues players.
    Kirby, 27, whose brace helped Chelsea thrash Birmingham 6-0 on Sunday, was one of the first to stand up for her league rivals.
    In a post shared with more than 100,000 of her Twitter followers, Kirby said: “It’s a shame in 2021 we still have women’s teams competing in the top league in England having to ask for help like this.
    “We should all be given the chance to perform at the highest level we can, Birmingham Women we all stand with you.”
    Arsenal ace Katie McCabe demanded that things have to “improve” in her tweet.
    McCabe said: “The players, staff & fans of Birmingham FC deserve so much more.”
    And ex-Blues centre-back Kerys Harrop cited the concerns raised in the letter as one of the reasons she left the club for Tottenham in 2020
    Harrop, who made 135 Birmingham appearances between 2011 and 2020, pleaded for the club not to neglect the women’s squad.
    Harrop tweeted: “This is heart-breaking, one of the reasons I felt I had to leave the club.
    “Birmingham City FC, please don’t let the hard work and personal investment that people who care about the club have put into the women’s team go to waste.
    “This is a great time to be a part of women’s football!”
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    Katie McCabe is publicly supporting Birmingham Women players who have raised concerns in regard to travel, pay and gym and physio facilitiesCredit: Getty

    There was also dismay expressed from within the club, and defender Harriet Scott tweeted that the players “deserved better.”
    Shebahn Aherne, who was the first to report on the complaint letter in a Sky Sports News interview, revealed players were frustrated at a number of issues at the club.
    These include some staff being paid below minimum wage, lack of support with away game travel and worries about playing finances affecting match-day squad numbers. 
    Aherne claims that conditions are so bad at the club that one player’s parent had to come in to build a weights rack for the team.
    BBC Sport reports team boss Carla Ward is acting as a mediator between her players and the board to try and resolve issues flagged in the complaint letter.
    SunSport contacted Birmingham City for further comment on Monday.
    Birmingham Women’s boss Carla Ward is reportedly acting as a mediator between players and board membersCredit: Getty
    A spokesman says the club is due to issue a statement in response to many of the claims made. 
    The fallout couldn’t have come at a worse time for Blues who are currently fighting for WSL survival.
    Ward’s side are ninth and just three points above Aston Villa who are currently propping up the table.
    Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
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    Birmingham City Women slam budget, work conditions and lack of medical help in complaint to club

    BIRMINGHAM CITY WOMEN have complained to their club’s board about working conditions, medical care and fitness facilities for their players.The Telegraph claims a formal letter it has seen – signed by every single member of Blues’ first-team squad – has been sent to club chiefs. 
    Birmingham Women’s first-team squad have formally complained to the club’s board about working conditionsCredit: Rex
    The letter, which was first reported by journalist Shebahn Aherne on Sky Sports News, lists a number of problems.
    Concerns include a lack of support with travel on game days, access to changing rooms and worries about playing finances affecting match-day squad numbers. 

    It claims that some salaries for playing staff are reportedly below the minimum wage and that current conditions for players ‘prevent us from performing our jobs to the best of our ability’.
    And it is thought gym facilities provided for the women’s team do not meet elite sporting standards with their physio and rehab room based in a portakabin. 
    Other concerns highlighted include poor-quality pitches provided for players and claims that some coaching personnel are not employed full-time which would contravene Women’s Super League licence regulations. 
    The Telegraph reports there are fears the club may not be committed to providing the finances needed to pay for a full-time women’s side next term.
    And just three players are thought to have a contract for next season.
    It is claimed the women’s squad – who are currently ninth and battling for survival in the WSL – had numerous pleas for meetings with board members declined before their complaint letter was sent. 
    However, Birmingham City officials are thought to have denied this. 
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    Birmingham Women have concerns about gym facilities, pay and a lack of medical supportCredit: Getty

    A club official told the Telegraph: “The letter was received, in the last week, and responded to. 
    A request to meet with the board was made in the letter and the request was the first formal request to be received.
    “It’s no secret we have one of the lowest budgets in the league, Covid has only compounded this. 
    “This certainly makes it difficult to compete, but we’re doing our best on and off the pitch in what is a very difficult time for professional football.”
    Birmingham, who reached the semi-finals of the 2020 Women’s FA Cup, have endured a challenging season with injuries leaving their squad severely depleted earlier this term.
    And pitch conditions at the Damson Park ground they use for home clashes has led to some fixtures being postponed. 
    Birmingham are battling to retain their place in the Women’s Super LeagueCredit: Rex
    In January team boss Carla Ward said she would only be able to field TEN players for a game against Tottenham due to several players being out of action. 
    After talks with team medics, there were concerns over the physical wellbeing of players which led to the club applying for the fixture to be postponed. 
    However, after the FA refused their request the club decided to call off the game due to an ‘unprecedented shortage of player availability’. 
    The decision would later lead to Tottenham being awarded a win and three points by an independent tribunal much to Birmingham Women’s disappointment.
    The tribunal found the club had breached rule 11.3.18 by failing ‘to fulfil an engagement’. 
    We’ve had it all chucked at us and I’m absolutely delighted with this team as they’ve shown pure resilience and a mentality and a mindset not to roll over. Carla Ward
    Birmingham, who are three points and three places above the drop zone, are due to take on Reading in the league after the international break following an FA Cup fourth-round clash with Coventry. 
    Prior to their game with Chelsea Ward, who took charge of the club in August 2020,  praised the grit her team have displayed this season. 
    Carla Ward has hailed the resilience of her side who battled with an injury crisis earlier this seasonCredit: Zuma Press
    Ward said: “We’ve had it all chucked at us and I’m absolutely delighted with this team as they’ve shown pure resilience and a mentality and a mindset not to roll over. 
    “It’s easy to roll over when things aren’t going your way, but they’ve had a real attitude of making sure that they’ve got a siege mentality. 
    “Before I took this job I know there were a lot of people saying Birmingham would get rolled over week-in, week-out, and we haven’t done.
    “No matter what happens, I can honestly say I will be very proud of this group because we’ve achieved a points number that Blues didn’t achieve last season.”
    Birmingham are due to play Reading in their next WSL fixture following a Women’s FA Cup clash with CoventryCredit: Rex
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    Morgan hails Leicester’s WSL promotion and pays emotional tribute to former owner Khun Vichai

    JONATHAN MORGAN praised Leicester City for winning their place among the best teams in women’s football after a “tough journey” to the top.  And the Foxes gaffer paid a touching tribute to Khun Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after watching his side reach the WSL on the former club owner’s birthday.
    Jonathan Morgan and his Leicester City players will compete in the Women’s Super League next seasonCredit: Getty
    Esme De Graaf and her team-mates secured WSL promotion after a 2-0 win against London City LionessesCredit: ©MI News & Sport Ltd
    Morgan was speaking after Leicester won the FA Women’s Championship crown following a solid 2-0 victory against London City Lionesses. 
    Goals from Samantha Tierney and Natasha Flint were enough to help the Foxes defeat the only team to have beaten them in 18 second tier games this season. 
    Morgan told BBC Leicester Sport: “I’m still in a bit of shock, to be honest. 
    “All I know is that I’m incredibly grateful to be given the opportunity to lead that crop of girls. 
    “To get promoted to the elite of women’s football is amazing and I think everyone should be proud of themselves. 
    “Everyone should just look back at the year and enjoy it now.” 
    Leicester’s remarkable rise to the highest division of the women’s game for the first time ever – comes nearly eight years after they were relegated to the fourth tier, in May 2013.
    The team picked up just four points from 16 games in the 2012-13 season. 
    However, they would go on to win promotion to the third tier in 2016 before being one of five sides incorporated into the Women’s Championship in May 2018 and winning the division’s title this term. 
    And their triumph comes more than two years after the tragic death of former Leicester owner and Thai businessman Khun Vichai.
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    Leicester’s next game will be a fourth round Women’s FA Cup match against LiverpoolCredit: ©MI News & Sport Ltd

    Morgan added: “This has been seven years in the making and it’s been a long journey for me personally, it’s been a tough journey. 
    “I’ve learnt so much on the way. I must also thank the owners of the club as well.
    ‘The support and the infrastructure they’ve given us over this year in particular and in former years too has just been fantastic.
    “To [win promotion] on Vichai’s birthday just makes it even more special for us as a club, us as individuals and the city as well.”
    Leicester’s promotion will see some former WSL players make their return to the top-flight next term.
    Leicester’s promotion will see keeper Kirstie Levell competing in the WSL next termCredit: Getty
    Players include ex-Everton keeper Kirstie Levell and midfield ace Remi Allen, who made 66 Reading appearances from 2016 to 2020 before sealing her Foxes switch. 
    Before their promotion win, Levell said: “When I joined this club I knew it was going to be a journey to go on with the team and I’m really glad that I chose this opportunity to come to Leicester. 
    “Just going back up there with the ones who came down from the WSL and going back up there with my team-mates is great.
    “I’m really really excited to be going back and playing top, top teams as well.”
    The Foxes’ Women’s Championship triumph will see Remi Allen return to the WSL in the 2021-22 seasonCredit: Getty
    Leicester’s Championship win is the pinnacle of a dramatic season that has seen them become a full-time professional outfit after being acquired by the King Power owners of the club’s Prem side. 
    The side has also seen Foxes hero Emile Heskey come on board as the team’s ambassador and in a coaching role. 
    And the women’s squad moved into Leicester’s £100million Seagrave practice ground previously used by the Foxes’ Prem team.
    Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds
    Samantha Tierney’s second-half strike against London City helped Leicester secure promotion to the top-flightCredit: Getty
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