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Arsenal manager calls for contingency plans to mitigate WSL postponements 

Women’s Super League teams need a “contingency plan” such as playing games at training grounds or St George’s Park to minimise postponements in wintery weather, says Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro.

Arsenal have played just once since Christmas, owing to a combination of Covid-19-related cancellations and then two postponements forced by the weather over the past two weekends. A waterlogged pitch meant their game at Aston Villa was called off on Jan 31, after heavy snow saw off Jan 24’s home game against West Ham United.

Those postponements were not isolated, with snow forcing the postponement of five scheduled WSL games on one day last month, and most WSL clubs are based at grounds without undersoil heating. Arsenal share their home with non-league men’s side Boreham Wood.

It means Montemurro’s side have not played for three weeks as they approach two crucial games against title rivals in the space of four days; they host Manchester City on Sunday before travelling to leaders Chelsea on Wednesday.

With more snow forecast for this weekend, Montemurro said: “It’s a challenge and we can’t change what’s happened. Would I have liked to have played some lead up games? Absolutely. It is what it is. We can’t make any excuses about it.

“The stadiums are important. I think, for us to be the best league in the world, which we are close to, I think we have to have contingency plans in place, and it should be the responsibility of each organisation and, if not, the FA, to make sure that these games aren’t postponed – that we have ample opportunity to fall back on.

“Whether it’s [playing matches at] training grounds, whether it’s playing games at St George’s Park, whether it’s just better stadiums, I don’t know what the answer is, that’s well above my pay scale. But we know that we’re going to get bad weather in January. We have to have some contingency plans in place.

Manchester United boss Casey Stoney, whose side are one of the WSL’s few to have the benefit of undersoil heating at their home ground of Leigh Sports Village, added: “There are concerns in the women’s game whenever the weather turns bad because [most] pitches aren’t equipped to cope with it – luckily we are, here. We’re very fortunate but the contingency is: Get better pitches, play in better grounds. Otherwise you’re going to face this every year.”

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