Hayes, whose side are preparing to face Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their last 16 tie tonight, has been an advocate of the competition’s expansion which will allow a third WSL side to participate in the Women’s Champions League from next season.
Chelsea missed out on last season’s tournament after finishing third in the 2018/19 WSL season.
“This is brilliant,” she said. “This is the step that everyone has worked towards. I’m happy to think that three teams will qualify from England, that will add even more kudos to our league and will keep the right amount of investment going into clubs.”
Chelsea and England centre-back Millie Bright said she is excited by the expansion and “proud of the women’s game for the journey that we’ve come on.”
“It shows we’re doing what we need to be doing to grow the game and it’s definitely exciting to be having groups,” she said. “I’m really happy that the top three now go in. We definitely have the quality in the WSL to add that third team.”
Chelsea have set their sights on reaching the final for the first time, having twice fallen short in the semi-finals in recent years, and Bright believes the club’s squad now have “all the ingredients” required, particularly after the addition of European Player of the Year Pernille Harder.
“We just have to put words into action now and get the job done. They’ve got a lot of experience in the Champions League, Pernille especially. You learn from those players. That’s the added bit, the experience we didn’t have.”â