Every time an England squad is named, fans ask the same question: Do central contracts guarantee a call-up, even if a player is out of form or regularly unused on international duty?
It has to be said first that when the contracts were introduced, former England Women manager Hope Powell had to fight really hard. Players were amateurs or semi-pro and deserved compensation, hence they were created.
Nowadays, the whole England squad is under professional contracts, so that money is no longer the only wage for majority of the players. For the lowest paid players, this will probably double their wages, while the high-end players see it as a top-up, adding maybe an extra 30% to what they earn with their club.
There is no transparency on the number of players on central contracts, no their name or value. It is probably between £20,000 and £30,000, but the figures are not disclosed.
The big question is: Do the central contracts guarantee an automatic call-up if the players are fit? In a way, it would make sense because if you pay that kind of money to a player and don’t call her up, why pay her in the first place?
What bothers followers the most is those centrally contracted players leave little space in the squad for new younger players to get a chance in the squad.
There is a nagging feeling in-form players are left out for the same old heads and it does not help in term of preparation for future tournaments. The typical example is the long-awaited and probably overdue call-ups for Keira Walsh and Leah Williamson.
They are in because the squad has been extended to 26 players. No one was dropped for them, except the injured individuals and one currently plying her trade in Australia.
You have the same situation with goalkeepers, where four have been called up as they are now all fit. England had four shot-stoppers during the European Championships in the Netherlands despite having only three allowed and registered, a curious situation.
From the outside. it looks like England did not want to upset any of the four goalkeepers, so they took them all in the end. As we look towards the 2019 World Cup, the same players are being selected until they more-or-less retire and open a spot for a new player – Alex Scott etc.
It’s doubtful the needed change of generation will happen because of those central contracts. The big question is: How many of the 26 players from the current squad will contribute in that tournament in June 2019?