With Real Madrid toiling in the Spanish top flight, Martin Whiteley wonders whether buying in at the top or starting from scratch is the best way to progress in women’s football?
The world-renowned name of Real Madrid finally made an appearance in Spanish women’s football, but they were greeted with a less-than-friendly welcome from another side with a recognisable moniker.
In July 2019, Real Madrid’s board of directors announced that a merger with fellow Madrid-based side CD (Club Deportivo) Tacon would see the newly promoted Primera Division Femenina side eventually operate under the Real Madrid name.
On 1 July 2020, the Spanish Football Federation officially approved for that to happen.
Last season – in their maiden top-flight campaign – CD Tacon was defeated by an aggregate score of 15-1 in the two league games against eventual champions Barcelona. In the opening game of this term, a simple change of name failed to halt that trend as Real Madrid fell to a 4-0 defeat, again to Barca.
In Germany, Eintracht Frankfurt went down the same route as Real Madrid when they brought FFC Frankfurt, the most successful women’s club in the country, into their family of teams for the 2020-21 season.
After a sixth-place finish last term, Eintracht Frankfurt will be hoping to better that with the added resources. Unbeaten so far in the 2020-21 season after a 4-0 win in their latest contest away to Meppen, Eintracht currently occupy joint third spot in the table with 10 points from four games.
The standard-bearers in the Frauen-Bundesliga are still Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg who, with away wins, 2-0 against SGS Essen and 4-0 versus Bayer Leverkusen, each claimed a fourth straight victory to start their campaigns.
Another side that recently announced they were launching a women’s team for the 2021-22 season was Borussia Dortmund, but they will be going down a vastly different route.
Rather than merging with an established Frauen-Bundesliga club, Dortmund decided to start from scratch as a non-professional team in the eighth tier of the German women’s pyramid.
The need for sustainable backing is highlighted by the struggles in France of newly promoted independent sides Issy and Guingamp, who do not have the money generated by the leading sides like Lyon and PSG.
After four rounds of matches this campaign, Issy and Guingamp are still looking for their first points. The latest loss for Issy was 7-1 away against Reims while Guingamp faced a narrow 1-0 reversal on their travels up against Bordeaux.
Contrast that to Lyon and PSG, who lead the way in France with 12 and 10 points, respectively. In their most recent outings, the leaders won 3-0 at Fleury 91 while PSG comfortably beat Dijon away 3-0.
Only time will tell whether having a ready-made top-flight team from a merger, or the process of starting at the bottom and working up, will ultimately prove to be the most advantageous way forward for clubs. However, one thing is certain: continued investment over a long period of time must be maintained if teams are to carry on progressing on an upward spiral.
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