Everton Women usher in the club’s new era as they distance themselves from Alisher Usmanov

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Aurora Galli celebrates - Aurora Galli grabs winner as Everton move to distance themselves from Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov - ACTION IMAGES
Aurora Galli celebrates - Aurora Galli grabs winner as Everton move to distance themselves from Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov - ACTION IMAGES

Aston Villa Women 0 Everton Women 1


The first physical signs of Everton distancing themselves from oligarch Alisher Usmanov’s influence were on show in Walsall as their women’s team wore unbranded shirts in their league win at Aston Villa.

Usmanov’s telecommunications company MegaFon had been the women’s team’s front-of-shirt sponsor but, in a close game that kicked off just over six hours after a club statement confirmed they were suspending their commercial arrangement, the team took to the field wearing plain tracksuit tops and then played in a new version of their white third kit, without any front-of-shirt sponsor.

As well as receiving significant financial support from Usmanov’s businesses, the women’s side’s fortunes on the pitch have also been heavily influenced by the family of the billionaire, who has been sanctioned by the EU because of “close ties” to Vladimir Putin.

Multiple sources said Usmanov’s nephew, Sarvar Ismailov, played a major role in the decision to sack Willie Kirk after just five games of this season. Frenchman Jean-Luc Vasseur lasted just 10 and was dismissed on Feb 2.

Interim manager Chris Roberts did give the club some reason to smile on Wednesday night, though, as his side won for the first time since November thanks to a resilient performance.

Midfielder Aurora Galli became the first Italian player to score in the WSL as she fired in late on to settle an otherwise tight game against an Aston Villa side who had seen England midfielder Jill Scott’s header well saved by Sandy MacIver.

Meanwile, WSL leaders Arsenal extended their advantage over title rivals Chelsea to five points – having played two games more – as goals from Vivianne Miedema, Katie McCabe, Leah Williamson and January signing StinaBlackstenius saw them coast to a dominant 4-0 victory over Reading.

Match details

Aston Villa Women (4-3-3): Hampton; Mayling, Patten, Asante, Pacheco; Scott, Littlejohn (McLoughlin 73), Allen (Blindkilde Brown 82); Lehmann, Gielnik (Hayles 89), Petzelberger.
Subs not used: Rogers (g), Arthur, Boye-Hlorkah, Hutton, Haywood, Corsie.
Booked: Mayling.
Everton Women (4-3-3): MacIver; Maier (Pattinson 45), Finnigan, George, Turner; Christiansen, Galli, Graham (Bennison, 45); Dali, Duggan, Emslie (Anvegard 58).
Subs not used: Brosnan(g), Magill, Gauvin, Weir.
Booked: Graham, Dali.
Referee: Robert Massey-Ellis (Coventry).