Derby County Football Club Women

Ewe Rams CEO “Further Steps in Right Direction”

Derby County Women’s CEO Duncan Gibb has hailed the 2020/21 season as ‘frustrating’ in one regard, but one in which the club took a ‘further step in the right direction’, remaining firmly of the view that everything is in place to take the club to the next level.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on league and cup programmes, stole the headlines for a second successive season. This was clearly frustrating, not just to us, but to clubs across the entire National League structure; however enough football was played for us to make a call in terms of how we aligned to our pre-season expectations.

“Given the squad of players that we assembled, if we are being honest, we could and should have had a few more points on the board when the season was voided, and still have been looking forward to an FA Cup 5th Round tie at Brighton; however we don’t lose sight of the fact that our bar is set very high these days and that the squad and management team have played their part in that.

“Off the field, the club has continued to make positive strides, with the levels of sponsorship that we delivered in the face of the biggest economic challenges to face the country in decades, being a prime examples sat amongst many. All the talk at present is about the Championship application process; however for me the biggest ticket item for the club is the Mickleover CIC project and ground redevelopment.

“There are still a few t’s to cross and i’s to dot; however I’m hopeful that in the coming weeks we’ll be able to say that we have joined an elite handful of female clubs that have a formal stake hold in their home ground, with that ground on course to be one of the very best come the start of the new season. Regardless of which league we are in, things like that represent landmark moments in a clubs journey.”

In terms of the Championship application process, the delays that will see this prolonged well into May have presented frustrations, concerns and problems; however Gibb feels that the club’s long held philosophy of simply controlling the control-ables, will ultimately stand the club in good stead.

“The new season starts in around fourteen weeks’ time, and as things sit the revised closing date for applications has still to pass, let alone the stages that then follow that. The process was very clear from the outset, in that clubs that wished to be considered for the Championship had until 29th January to submit applications. Whilst the league season was voided at the end of March, we are somewhat puzzled as to why the application process was then re-opened, although we are hearing rumours that clubs that didn’t initially apply are now doing so. If that’s the case and one of those in subsequently taken forward at the expense of clubs that applied within the initially advised timeframe, then it will be disappointing; however we can neither control that or worry about it.”

“The most frustrating thing is not the revised process, but its impact. We have a management team and squad sat in limbo, unable to make a number of either squad or personal decisions, whilst we’ve had to delay the launch of our 2021/22 sponsorship campaign by two months in an economic downtown. It’s a strange time for everyone, and with that has come patience and understanding; however we do feel that the process could have been shortened in order to allow clubs to address the issues that we ourselves are facing.”

“We have good insight into clubs at the next level and know that ours is a club that has been ready for the Championship for the past three seasons; however regardless of which league we start 2021/22 in, the club is in a better place than when it went into the 2020/21 season, and for its custodians, players and supporters that in itself is cause for celebration.”