Aimee Everett admits Palace’s impending promotion has left squad ‘shocked’

Palace – subject to licensing approval – will join the top flight at a significant turning point for the WSL and Championship.

Rachel Steinberg
Friday 26 April 2024 09:00 BST
Crystal Palace captain Everett says promotion comes as a bit of a surprise (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Crystal Palace captain Everett says promotion comes as a bit of a surprise (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)

Captain Aimee Everett admits Crystal Palace’s now all-but guaranteed promotion to the Women’s Super League once felt like an improbable outcome.

The Eagles made a statement of intent at the beginning of the 2022-23 season, adding 15 players ahead of that Championship campaign, which ultimately ended in a disappointing fifth-place finish and the departure of manager Dean Davenport.

Ex-Charlton women’s assistant Laura Kaminski was appointed as his successor in July and, nine months later, one final meeting with Sunderland is all that stands in the way of her Eagles’ official crowning as winners of the most competitive Championship season yet.

Everett told the PA news agency: “At the start of (last summer) we didn’t even have a manager, there’s been lots of changes. To go from the start of the season not expecting it to then this being possible, I think everyone’s just more shocked than anything.

“We’ve always said that we would take it game by game, week by week, and never tried to look too far ahead. The WSL was never in our sights to start the season, but then I think it clicked about five games ago. We kind of sat down and we were like, right, come on, let’s go for it now.”

While Charlton are still mathematically in it, as things stand the Addicks would in a best-case scenario still require a 23-goal swing to prevent the league-leading Eagles from lifting the trophy.

Some footballers are hesitant to talk about titles until they are truly done and dusted, but Everett freely shares that she woke up “a little bit hungover” on Monday following their 2-0 victory over relegated Lewes.

That result, combined with Sunderland’s elimination from the title race last weekend, means Palace’s final encounter might take on the feeling of a 90-minute victory lap at Selhurst Park, where last month 5,566 broke the attendance record for the women’s first team – a tally Palace hope to surpass on Sunday.

“I think the Championship needs a little bit more respect,” said Everett. “This year has shown that the quality now in this league is closing that gap to the Super League.

“That’s fair play to all the players in the Championship and the players that have been in it to get it to where it is now.”

Palace – subject to licensing approval – will join the top flight at a significant turning point for the WSL and Championship, which this summer will move out from under the FA umbrella and into its own independent company, NewCo, led by ex-Nike exec Nikki Doucet, who has outlined ambitions to capitalise the growth potentially of the still commercially nascent women’s game.

The WSL’s £24 million, three-year broadcast deal, which was to expire at the end of this campaign, has been rolled over for another season while negotiations for a longer-term agreement remain ongoing, with a February Neilsen and Prospect report valuing the rights at £15.6m per season.

The Eagles will now find themselves on the reverse side of that deal’s 75:25 revenue split between the top tiers, while how chairman Steve Parish and Palace – particularly as a Premier League club – decide to invest in the newly-promoted side will no doubt come under scrutiny.

Parish was among a group of WSL and Championship executives who sat on  an advisory panel, led by then-independent consultant Doucet, set up to help steer the next era of the women’s professional game.

Everett is confident her team is ready to compete with the best, but could only offer an “I don’t think so” when asked if the club’s plans for next season have been communicated in much detail.

She added:  “We’re just focused on this week, getting it done and trying not to think too far ahead.”

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