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I'm pleased to report it's been a fantastic week for the girls and the gays in football. Oh, you thought that West Ham's documentary about maternity rights was good? Wait til you see just how many babies Arsenal defender Amanda Ilestedt is pushing out. The world of WoSo has gone baby crazy 🤪 Also in today's newsletter:
  • the 'biggest blessing you can have in life'!
  • a football manager making a competitive sacrifice in the name of morals!
  • a girlboss tip from Mary Earps!
  • ...seriously! it's Totally Wicked out here!
I hope you enjoy it loads, and send it to loads and loads of people who will also find it wicked as heck. Have the best weekend ever, may the biggest blessings be upon you.


Gloves Off

Ruh-roh. Arsenal are flirting with the idea of signing a first-choice goalkeeper — and it isn't Mary Earps.

Mearps' contract at Manchester United runs out this summer, and the biggest question of the January transfer window was whether the Reds would sell her in time to make any money out of her.

Last summer, Arsenal snagged Alessia Russo on a free after Man Utd failed to pin her down to a new contract. Fans warned against the same thing happening with Earps, and in the end she stayed in the north west, hoping for the successful negotiation of a new deal.
But now, her escape route if she can't is in doubt as Arsenal are turning their attention to young Dutch 'keeper Daphne van Domselaar.

DvD — not to be confused with former Arsenal midfielder Daniëlle van de Donke — stepped up unexpectedly for the Dutch national team during the Euros after the Oranje no.1 Sari van Veenendaal picked up an eleventh-hour injury. DvD had hardly any big-stage experience but was suddenly popping off with saves left, right and centre.

In January, Aston Villa hadn't been the only ones who wanted her but they were the only ones who succeeded in gettin' her. Everyone in the Midlands has been pretty chuffed about the fact that DvD seems a significant upgrade to Hannah Hampton, who left Villa for Chelsea (also on a free!) — but mere months later, it looks like Arsenal might swoop in and grab her from under their noses.
Villa put a £200,000 release clause in her contract to protect her from being poached but the fact is Arsenal can afford it. I saw someone on Twitter joke that selling out the Emirates won't win them trophies (as I imagine rival fans have gleefully observed) but it will buy them the best goalkeepers in the division. And it's true! Marketing women's football to fill a big stadium with fans isn't a charitable endeavour — it makes commercial sense!!

It's a bit sucky for Villa, who also lost young England prospect Laura Blindkilde to Manchester City via a £200,000 release clause on deadline day back in January.

Big clubs, big money, best players, huh?

Ally of the Week

It's going to take more than rainbow armbands to make gay people feel safe and included in football and the manager of the Austrian men's national team, Ralf Rangnick, knows it.

There was homophobic chanting at the Vienna derby between Rapid Vienna and Austria Wien last month and five Rapid players were filmed taking part, as well as their managing director and an assistant coach 😴

In response, the Bundesliga gave all those involved a ban from participating in a number of games and ordered them to participate in a discrimination workshop.

This week, Rangnick announced that Marco Grüll, Guido Burgstaller and Niklas Hedl had all been excluded from his Austria squad for friendlies against Slovakia and Turkey as a result of their taking part in the offensive chanting.

“This is something that I will not tolerate in a team where I am a coach, whether in a club or here with the national team,” Rangnick said. "Everything we stand for with the national team is at the other end of the scale, and I told the boys that on the phone.”

Rangnick did not rule out the players getting recalled for this summer's European Championship. He just wants to make sure they realise that their actions have consequences first. He said: "I expect the boys to take this issue seriously and understand what it means for people when they are publicly insulted or discriminated against in such a way."

🍻 Prost, Ralf!

Sign Her Up

Arsenal defender Amanda Ilestedt is having a baby and everyone is made up for her.

The club announced news of Ilestedt's pregnancy by putting this photo of Ilestedt with prints of her ultrasound scans up on a slideshow during a team meeting.
...prompting class clown Katie McCabe to shout out "are you having three, Amanda?"

Taking it a little more seriously, Gunners boss Jonas Eidevall made his own late bid for ally of the week by reminding us that women in football deserve to be happy.

"We are really happy for her [Ilestedt] and her partner Rainer," Eidevall said. "That is a feeling that is shared in the whole team, everyone is really happy and excited by the news. As a club we are really committed to helping her in the best way possible, through the whole journey, here until giving birth and then her return to play."

"I think to have a child is maybe the biggest blessing you can have in life. It should be special and it shouldn’t be something you think you shouldn’t be entitled to do, to be entitled to that happiness."


But what about Arsenal's back line? FIFA Regulation on the Status and Transfer of Players states that “a female player may be registered outside a registration period to temporarily replace another female player that has taken maternity leave”, meaning that Arsenal don't have to wait until the next transfer window to add a fresh player to their squad.

Arsenal fans were delighted, begging the club Twitter admin to bring 23-year-old USA star Naomi Girma across the Atlantic, or arrange a return for cherished former centre-back Rafaelle.

It's all very well being able to sign someone up, but the beauty of the transfer window is that clubs free up players when the ones they want more become available... if no one else is moving around, then the market is essentially shut to Arsenal. It's hard to see why San Diego Wave would willingly give up their best player on the eve of the NWSL season, when they don't share Arsenal's ability to add in a different superstar to replace her.

But hey, when have football fans ever let reality get in the way of their excitement?

"Congrats on the baby Amanda now WHEN ARE WE GETTING NAOMI XOX" 🙏🏼


Liverpool are considering re-locating their women's side's home ground, with their deal with League Two Tranmere Rovers set to end this summer.

For the duration of the Reds' five-year stint at Prenton Park, the pitch has been a bit of a mud slide and some fans complain about its location (it's about a 50-minute train and bus ride from Anfield. You could walk it in a couple of hours).

However, Liverpool supporters were even less delighted to hear about their potential new home this week. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds are considering a stadium share with Rugby League club St Helens.

Like Prenton Park, St Helens is around an hour's travel away from Anfield but that's the least concern. Sponsored by a vape company, Liverpool fans' potential new home puts them at risk of being casually referred to as 'the Totally Wicked faithful'.

Girlboss Tip of the Day

This week, Mary Earps took to TikTok to explain why she is no longer on the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
People who write about football can't really do without Twitter, sadly, but it's food for thought during a week in which each time I've logged onto the platform — say, to locate a photograph of Miss Mary herself for this very newsletter — I've found myself distracted by the latest dirt on the Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

Things I dig this week

Coming Up

  • Thursday - Division One North
    • Leeds United Women "have the chance to make up ground on the leading pack" tonight, according to the club website. The ground in question? 14 points between the Whites and the top spot.
    • Opponents FC United of Manchester have lost all but three games this season. I went to their last game against Leeds. It was a right laugh.
  • Friday - Women's Super League
    • Stamford Bridge hosts a giant moment in the title race as 3rd-place Arsenal take on league leaders Chelsea, who have a three-point lead over their opponents, but are only bettering 2nd-place Manchester City on goal difference.
    • On the reverse, Arsenal won 4-1 😱 and if they can pull that off again, the Gunners will put themselves right back in the mix for the top spot - though it'll hand the initiative over to City.
    • "We're at the point where we can still win absolutely nothing," Chelsea midfielder and stand-in captain Erin Cuthbert very wisely noted this week when quizzed on her side's ambitions to win a quadruple.
  • Sunday - Women's Super League
    • It's a WSL mid-off at Brisbane Road as Tottenham Hotspur play a six-pointer against Leicester City. Neither of these sides were miles off relegation from the division last term so will be more than chuffed to be fighting for sixth place.
    • After dreaming of Champions League qualification, dropping points has left Marc Skinner's Manchester United level with fifth-placed Liverpool. Unlikely that they'll slip up against Bristol City this weekend, but friends, it is coming....
  • Sunday - West Riding County First Division
    • Farsley Celtic have pushed me and my Leeds Hyde Park teammates out of our second-place promotion spot, but we've got a game in hand and trail by one point.
    • Our home pitch is so grim that we're playing our 'home' fixture against Brayton Belles at our opponents' place a 45 minute drive away this Sunday 😍 Let's go girls. Can only dream of the Totally Wicked Stadium xox

More at The Square Ball

A photograph of Sarah Danby playing for Leeds United Women against some team in red

Spiritually: Top of the League

by Flora Snelson

Actually: Leeds United Women are failing to take the chances to get the results that would put them there.
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