The FA disclosed the winning bids for the WSL Tier 1 and 2, and now we will see the second phase, with an external bid from the FA WSL coming in.
“All clubs have been offered a licence for the tier at which they applied. For some clubs, this offer of a licence is conditional on the club ensuring that certain requirements are met before the grant of the licence is confirmed. Decisions are subject to appeal.”
The word ‘conditional’ is crucial here. It means some clubs are not safe from being dumped out of the FA WSL at the end of the season. We note the usual lack of transparency as the teams with the conditional offer are not named.
Tier 1 clubs (10):
- Arsenal Women
- Birmingham City Ladies
- Brighton & Hove Albion Women
- Bristol City Women
- Chelsea Ladies
- Everton Ladies
- Liverpool Ladies
- Manchester City Women
- Reading Women
- Yeovil Town Ladies
Tier 2 clubs (7):
- Aston Villa Ladies
- Doncaster Rovers Belles
- Durham Women
- London Bees
- Millwall Lionesses
- Sheffield FC Ladies
- Tottenham Hotspur Ladies
Yeovil are clear winners of the structure, as they were threatened to be demoted by the FA for not having the minimum required budget (£400k).
Brighton are also clear winners, as they won promotion off the pitch thanks to the excellent investment made by their parent side. They will move to play in Crawley.
The losers are the three teams that have not applied for any of the two tiers. Watford will go down to the third Tier at least, currently called the FA Women Premier League.
Sunderland and Oxford have also not applied for a place, and will look to come back in the second round of bids with external help. It will be interesting to see if those two teams can lodge a bid by March, or if they go the Watford way down the regional leagues.
“The licence application process now moves to an open application phase where applications from clubs outside of The FA WSL will be accepted for both Tier 1 and Tier 2.”
Which club could bid for a Tier 1 or Tier 2 place?
A few clubs have thrown their hat in the ring from the WPL: West Ham have said they will bid for Tier 1, Derby, Crystal Palace and Charlton are looking to bid for a place in Tier 2.
You could have teams who do not have senior side at the moment, like Southampton or Manchester United, that could come with a nice budget and get access to Tier 1 with a team built up from scratch.
Cooking dinner for my kids. My 6-year-old daughter looks up at the @FAWSL tables on TV and asks:
“Where are the Man United women’s team in the league?”
“They don’t have one, Phoebe.”
“Why not? That’s weird”.
How much longer, @ManUtd? #MUFC pic.twitter.com/fSgJvrKgps
— Jacqui Oatley (@JacquiOatley) December 5, 2017
“A minimum of two licences are available through the open process in Tier 1 and a minimum of five licences (including – subject to the rules and regulations in respect of promotion – a place for The FA WPL champion club) are available in Tier 2.”
“Decisions will not be communicated until after The FA WPL Championship Play-Off at the end of The FA WPL season.”
For Tier 2, the FA are keeping with their promise of promoting the FA WPL play-off winner, which means that if one of the bidders wins that play-off, there will be only four teams able to be promoted rather than five, as the FA announced a maximum of 12 teams in Tier 2.
On March 9, we will know which teams are actually committed to join the Elite Women football teams. There might be some big surprises.
All the regulars at the FA WSL games are wondering if enough has been done to convince Manchester United to re-open their Women’s side.
Should United put forward a team, they won’t be short of player application as there are many players who are big fans.