The FA have announced plans to restructure the elite tires of the Women’s football pyramid.
Following a review of women’s and girl’s football conducted by Wharton Consulting, the FA have announced that they plan to restructure the top tier, as well other areas of the game, as part of their ‘Gameplan for Growth’ strategy. This aims to transform women’s football by doubling participation, doubling the fanbase and England teams achieving consistent success on the world stage.
A change to the top tier – FA WSL 1 – will be implemented from the start of the 2018/19 season. It’ll be expanded to 14 teams with full-time professional players.
There will be a new ‘Academy structure’ to tier one will be implemented to help develop talent from the age of 17 – 20. They will also get increased support.
Arsenal are in the top tier of women’s football, which currently consists of 10 teams. Therefore, come 2018/19, the Gunners will have a bit more competition on their hands.
Tier two with be a national league, which will consist of semi-professional, part-time players. 12 teams will be involved.
Tiers three and four, a.k.a. FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL), will still have a regional structure and will include promotion and relegation applicable across all tiers. These clubs will go through a consultation process, which will begin on 7 October, in which they discuss how to grow in terms of players, size of divisions and transfer windows.
Current WSL 1 and 2 clubs are able to apply for a license for either tier 1 or tier 2 of the pyramid. However, those in the top tier must be working at least 16 hours a day (plus matches) as a full-time professional, which will increase to 20 hours in 2021/22 season.
“This announcement is a landmark moment for women’s football in this country,” said Katie Brazier, The FA’s head of women’s leagues and competitions.
“The changes will continue our journey to transform key elements of the women’s game.
“Providing an elite performance environment that will produce more and better players, increase the interest and excitement via a more competitive league, attract a greater number of fans and in turn deliver improved commercial viability for clubs and the leagues.
“The decision was made following a full review of women’s and girls’ football competitions and extensive and valuable dialogue with the clubs, who have been really supportive of the changes being introduced.”