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Emma Hayes: Chelsea boss says solutions needed to stop WSL call-offs

Emma Hayes
Emma Hayes addressed supporters at Kingsmeadow following the abandonment of their game after six minutes on Sunday

The Women’s Super League needs to find a solution to prevent games being called off because of frozen pitches, says Chelsea manager Emma Hayes.

The game – live on BBC Two – had kicked off as scheduled at 12:30 GMT following an earlier pitch inspection.

But referee Neil Hair took the teams off at Kingsmeadow Stadium when it became apparent it was unplayable.

“We’ve got pitch covers and heaters that are designed to prevent frozen pitches. If they don’t do that job, then we have to have another solution,” said Hayes.

“That’s not my job – that’s for the league and the clubs to sort so we never have to cancel games. I’ve said for years that cancelling games has a detrimental impact on our sport.

“Whatever it takes, to ensure that fans travelling up and down the country aren’t having games cancelled six or seven minutes in, is something we should all work towards.”

Liverpool manager Matt Beard said on Sunday the decision to kick off risked players’ safety.

The sequence of events – starting with a 09:30 pitch inspection and ending with players slipping over and disappointed supporters being addressed by Hayes – was criticised by the managers and pundits, as well as players on social media.

Only four WSL clubs – Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester City and Reading – have undersoil heating at their primary grounds.

“In general, if this is the top division for women’s football, then we should be afforded exactly the same opportunity,” said Hayes when asked if clubs should invest in undersoil heating.

“This isn’t about Chelsea, it’s about women’s football and being in a place to build a fanbase, a business and all of those things without equal access to things for many years.

“Someone pointed out that undersoil heating is not environmentally-friendly so maybe in an ideal world you would have an environmentally-friendly pitch so you can play in the top division.”

Chelsea are set to play Tottenham in the Continental Cup quarter-finals in their next match on Wednesday at Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road, although there will be a pitch inspection before the game.external-link

WSL rivals Arsenal, who are set to host Aston Villa at Meadow Park in their quarter-final on Thursday, revealed they had “investigated the possibility” of hosting the match at Emirates Stadium but it was “not feasible due to essential pitch maintenance”.

The Gunners said there would be a pitch inspection at 12:00 GMT on the day of the match.