Emma Hayes: Chelsea boss says women's football will 'come back stronger'

Emma Hayes
Emma Hayes has been in charge of Chelsea Women since 2012

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes is confident women's football will come back "bigger, stronger and better" following the coronavirus outbreak.

The Women's Super League season was halted in March and ended on 25 May, with the Blues awarded the WSL title on a points-per-game ratio on Friday.

Hayes said ending the season early was the "right decision", with player welfare a key factor.

"I feel really optimistic and excited for the future," Hayes, 43, said.

"Just because it didn't resume doesn't mean we're under threat or at risk. I trust in the people running the league and believe we'll come back bigger, stronger and better.

"We're all walking into the unknown. As long as the collective will and wisdom and knowledge is there we can work towards the right solution to bring the game back."

The new season is set to get under way on the weekend of September 5 and 6 and is expected to be played behind closed doors.

"The right decision was taken but it wasn't done flippantly," Hayes added.

"It was a collective decision. It wasn't solely around finances. You have to consider player welfare as well and the vast majority of players would have had a 12-week gap and it would have felt like a new season.

"I'm pleased, as are all the clubs, a date has been announced. We have a date to work towards to."

Rolling with the new normals

Hayes said cramming in fixtures to complete the season would have meant players with international commitments having "three years of back-to-back tournaments".

A fresh start, she added, was a chance to look at "new opportunities".

"We'll roll with the new normals and I'm excited for what that might bring," she said.

"It might bring more broadcast opportunities which, for our game, is another step. The next one is a constant layering of building on what we've done."

For Chelsea, who were unbeaten throughout the league campaign, their latest title is their third in the WSL era, and their second in three seasons. The success also gives Hayes a seventh major trophy with the club, including two Women's FA Cups and 2017's transitional Spring Series league.

They also claimed victory in this year's Continental League Cup final, beating Arsenal at Nottingham Forest's City Ground.

Chelsea celebrate
Chelsea previously won the WSL title in the 2015 and 2017-18 seasons

The future of this season's FA Cup is still uncertain so a domestic treble is still a possibility, but Hayes is already targeting back-to-back championships next term.

She praised her players for their unbelievable "desire and willingness", as well as their drive.

"It is important to keep the environment fresh and rigorous," she added. "Performance environments have to have positive discomfort, an environment that raises the bar. The staff and players have been nothing sort of remarkable. The players don't want to spend time celebrating; they want to go to the next level.

"It has been the hardest title to win in my time here. We have never won back-to-back titles and have to reverse that trend."