Simon Arnold: Bristol Academy faced budgets on 'different planet'

Top WSL clubs' budgets shock Arnold

Premier League backing of Women's Super League clubs has put an elite few on a 'different planet', says Bristol Academy chairman Simon Arnold.

European quarter-finalists Bristol were relegated to WSL 2 on Sunday with a 6-1 loss to title-chasing Manchester City.

Seven Bristol players are either unpaid or earn just "£35 a week", while City's Steph Houghton receives £65,000 a year.

"Premiership clubs have put massive, massive investment in, far more than we could ever dream of," Arnold said.

"They are paying signing on fees greater than my annual budget for the whole team, so it's very difficult to compete.

"It really is a different planet. You hear about pre-season tours to Dubai and we are lucky to get a bus to Weston."

Recent Bristol success
Bristol Academy beat Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League last year, after finishing second in the Women's Super League in 2013.

Arnold also reiterated the sentiment of out-going Liverpool manager Matt Beard, who said the top-flight will be dominated by Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Bristol, who twice reached the FA Cup final and Champions League in the past five years, have registered just one league win to date this season.

"I don't want to sound bitter and twisted but it is going to become a league of five Premiership teams and those at the bottom fighting for who goes down," Arnold told BBC Points West.

"Sadly what they have done is replicated the men's game, with women playing it.

"I hope people at the top of the game recognise that having just three or four teams competing for the league isn't going to be good for the development of women's football overall."

Bristol have already said that relegation could cost them half their current squad as funding from the Football Association is more than halved in the second tier.