Hot on the heels of their last women’s football reform, the FA has now rebranded the top four tiers of the women’s football pyramid.
Here are the new names:
- Tier 1 – FA Women’s Super League (currently FA Women’s Super League 1)
- Tier 2 – FA Women’s Championship (currently FA Women’s Super League 2)
- Tier 3 – FA Women’s National League – Northern Premier Division / Southern Premier Division (currently FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division / Southern Division)
- Tier 4 – FA Women’s National League – Division 1 North, Midlands, South East, South West (currently FA Women’s Premier League Division 1 North, Midlands, South West, South East)
Sometimes, you really wonder why the FA wants to experiment so much with women’s football. They certainly enjoy using expensive consultants for all things related to the WSL. And you wonder why they come up with certain concepts or ideas.
For example, the change from summer to winter football was made to help the England team, the Champions league teams and the players’ health as well as create a better fixture list.
Let’s say the fixture list is as bad as it has been for the first seven years. The Champions League teams are doing well, so the FA might claim it is a success. The England team is doing well, but they were also doing well under the summer league.
There are also new targets in terms of attendance and reaching an average of 1,000 people per game for the FA WSL teams will be hard next season. We have already seen this season that two teams will make it – Manchester City and Chelsea.
Regarding the teams that will participate in the newly named FA WSL and FA Women’s Championship, let’s remind ourselves of the state of play:
“Licenses to participate in tier 1 and tier 2 were granted in December to current FA Women’s Super League (FA WSL) clubs who applied.
The application process has now moved to an open application phase where applications from clubs outside of The FA WSL or from those who didn’t apply in the first phase are being accepted for both tiers until Friday 9 March 2018.”
What we know so far is two FA WSL clubs that did not apply in the first phase of bidding might end up bidding at the second stage: Sunderland and Oxford. Watford should drop to the Women’s National League.
We also know that the current FA WPL clubs from the third tier will apply for a licence. West Ham will apply for the FA WSL, while C&K Basildon, Derby, Crystal Palace and Charlton will apply to play in the FA Women’s Championship.
What we still don’t know is if any team outside the top four women’s football tiers will come and bid for a place as it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to go straight to the top of the women’s football pyramid without having to climb all the different steps via the normal promotion route.
We will know the composition of the FA WSL and the FA Women’s Championship Leagues by June as the FA WPL play-off champions get promoted to the Championship. The FA will therefore be able move the goalpost once the third tier champion is known and potentially select a team that was not originally planned to go up. Otherwise the FA could have checked the licensing bid in March/April and announced the results early May before the play-offs.
It will be interesting to see if one or more teams decide to go full time pro and join the FA WSL and also to see how many are accepted in the Championship as many FA WPL teams are good enough already to play there.