Phil Neville has not been pushed out of the England manager’s job, according to the Football Association’s head of women’s football. Sue Campbell said she had offered a new contract but he had chosen to leave next July, when his deal expires.
“The option to extend [his] contract, I didn’t take it beyond offering it to him,” Campbell said. “I’d have to have taken it to the board and to other people but he didn’t want that. He was very clear in his mind that he’d come to do a three-year job and that that is what he wanted to do.
“I think he was disappointed, as I’m sure we all were, that both the Olympics and Euros got bumped a year because he would have had the Olympics this summer and he would have finished with the Euros, which would have been three fantastic years for him. But that’s not how it has worked out. But it was very much his decision.”
Applications for the post close at the end of the month and Campbell said there had been “very, very good interest from significantly experienced coaches and I’m very optimistic we’ll move to a new appointment this summer”.
The candidates believe there is a bright future for England. “In all the people who have spoken to me interested in applying for this job there isn’t one of them that doesn’t think we can win the World Cup in 2023,” Campbell said. “I know that’s probably a good line to be telling me, but they believe we can and I do.”
“I don’t think you can underestimate that, the last time, Mark Sampson had left his role and the media noise around that had given people quite a scare,” said Campbell. “People are now looking from overseas and thinking we’re taking this game very, very seriously.”
With the FA having reached the end of its four-year Gameplan for Growth strategy, a new launch is expected soon. Campbell promises it is ambitious and she is optimistic they will rebuild the momentum come the start of the Women’s Super League season in September.
“It isn’t just money that has caused the game to halt right now, it’s also the protocols, which are really complex and very difficult to interpret,” she said. “When we start again, we’re having a look [at whether we] can do some pre-season highlight game, we’re talking to broadcasters about when and how we can show that first weekend.
“We’re doing a huge amount of work about how we can fit in the women’s FA Cup and how we can fit that all into the beginning of the new season. The talks we’re having with broadcasters are really positive, so I’m optimistic that we will swing into town fairly noisily and with a lot going on.”
Campbell hopes fans will be able to return. “I’m fairly optimistic we might be able to open and not play behind closed doors but the government changes the rules so regularly it’s kind of hard to keep pace.”