Guiseley Vixens victims of financial hardships in the women’s game

former manager Glen Preston admits the now extinct Guiseley Vixens were always facing an uphill battle to survive in the beautiful game.

Guiseley Vixens have gone into liquidation.
Guiseley Vixens have gone into liquidation.

Vixens had been playing in the third tier of the Pyramid – the FA Women’s National League North – but announced earlier this month that they will be liquidated this summer owing to financial limitations.

Liquidation was always looming for Preston and his coaching staff, despite their large amount of progression on the pitch. This was merely part of a wider issue throughout the women’s game, with the Vixens always working to avoid the same misfortune as Notts County, Yeovil Town and Doncaster Belles among others.

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“From day one, we’ve tried to build a sustainable business model,” said Preston.

Glen Preston: Proud to have been in charge until Guiseley Vixens were forced to liquidate.

“To do this, we would probably have had to merge at some point which we tried to do four times, so it’s always been a possibility for a club as small as Guiseley that liquidation would happen, especially with the way the financial game is moving at the moment.

“I think the restructuring of the WSL has made it much harder. The bridge between our division (National League) and the WSL means you need 10 times the budget that most clubs are operating off to have a realistic chance of getting there.

“So for a lot of clubs it’s not a realistic ambition to get there without the backing of a men’s club or a suitor of some description. So there’s just no ambition for anyone to invest and find someone who will put money into something that can’t move forwards, which is the situation we found ourselves in.”

Former Huddersfield Town Ladies coach Preston took up the role at Vixens with assistant Kyle O’Reilly in the summer of 2016.

Each of Guiseley’s three seasons with Preston in charge could barely have been more different, with the first seeing promotion back to the Women’s National League North with a record-breaking points tally of 59 and only one league loss all season.

Their subsequent season back in the National League was not quite as straight-forward, with a gritty last-day win over former club Huddersfield Town needed to stay up by the skin of their teeth after a tough season full of setbacks.

The club also clinched a first county cup final victory and had a secure second season in the third tier of women’s football just before liquidation.

Preston described his time as “the best three years of my life” and he continues his role with the Guiseley men’s coaching staff.

“Guiseley’s been more than just a football club,” says Preston. “I can’t thank my coaching staff enough for all the help and support they’ve given me. It’s been an honour and privilege to represent the Guiseley badge and try to propel the club forward.

“There’s been so much work put into the girls and boys academies which are thriving and the whole club has been punching well above its weight. It’s obviously a shame that the women’s team is no more but there’s no doubt that the club will bounce back and move forward.”