Simmons to step back as FA director of women's pro game


Kelly Simmons has decided to step back from her role as the FA's director of the women's professional game this summer and will leave the governing body next year.

Simmons, who started work with the FA in 1991, took up her current role overseeing the women's football pyramid in September 2018, having previously been director of participation and development. 

The Women's Super League became fully professional from the start of the 2018-19 season and developments since have included deals with Barclays as title sponsor and Sky and the BBC to broadcast live matches. 

A WSL record crowd of 47,367 watched Arsenal beat Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium last September and Simmons, speaking a few months later, said the league was averaging almost 6,000 fans a week, up by over 200 per cent from the same time a year earlier, with the Championship average attendance up by over 85 per cent. 

As news of her impending departure broke, Simmons said: "It has been an absolute privilege to play a role in the development of our national game. 

"I would like to put on record my appreciation to the FA women's professional game team, clubs and partners, who are helping change the landscape of football in this country. 

"I look forward to helping complete a record-breaking Barclays WSL and BWC season before stepping away and supporting it as a huge fan."

Writing on LinkedIn, she added: "An emotional day as I announce I'm hanging up my Barclays WSL and Championship boots at the end of the season. 

"It's been an absolute privilege to work with the brilliant women's pro game team, clubs and partners to transform the football landscape. 

"Time to focus on finishing a record breaking season then a small break and new adventures."

Simmons received an OBE for services to women's football in 2021. 

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: "After over 30 brilliant years at the FA, Kelly has decided that it is time for a change. 

"Kelly has made a seminal contribution to the FA and the growth and development of the women's game in particular and will leave an enduring legacy. 

"Kelly has been a valued member of the senior management team, a great colleague and an inspiring mentor for many of us inside and outside the FA. 

"I would like to thank Kelly for her commitment to overseeing a strong and smooth transition to the next stage for the women's professional game."