Women's football in England

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For more in depth, albeit general information see Football in England.

While women's football has been played in England for over a century, it has only been in the 1990s that the game has seen a large increase in female players, as well as in female spectators, culminating in England hosting the Women's European Championships in 2005.[1][2][3]

History[edit]

In the period from early in the First World War until the Football Association's ban on women playing football on the grounds of its affiliates in 1921 (which lasted for 50 years) women's football was very popular and a true rival to the men's game. One match featuring the Dick, Kerr's Ladies team from Preston, played at Goodison Park, Liverpool on Boxing Day 1920, attracted a crowd of 53,000 with another 10–15,000 reportedly turned away because the ground was full.[4][5][6][7]

Today, the FA runs directly the top women's competitions. The most significant national competition is the national cup, the FA Women's Cup, followed by the top national league, the FA WSL (Women's Super League). Before the formation of the WSL in 2011, the top flight was the FA Women's Premier League National Division, which has now become the second-level league. Originally, the Premier League champion was the only English representative allowed in Europe. When the UEFA Women's Cup was relaunched as the UEFA Women's Champions League for the 2009–10 season, England became one of eight nations with two Champions League places, a status it has retained ever since. In the first two seasons of the new Champions League, England's two places were filled by the Premier League champion and the FA Women's Cup winner. For 2011–12, the two finalists in the 2010–11 FA Women's Cup earned the Champions League places. Starting with the 2012–13 Champions League, the two berths were initially planned to go to the WSL and FA Women's Cup champions, but the FA chose instead to send the top two teams from the WSL. Women's football also has two significant secondary cup competitions. The FA WSL Continental Cup, contested by the WSL teams, is held after the league season. The Premier League Cup, limited to the teams in the Premier League and its regional third divisions, is held during the league season.

To promote women's football, the FA allows cup finals to be held at various men's Premier League/Football League stadia throughout the country (as opposed to men's finals which are usually held at the national stadiums). In the 2010–11 season, the FA Cup final was held at Coventry City's Ricoh Arena, the Continental Cup final at Burton Albion's Pirelli Stadium, and the League Cup final at Wycombe Wanderers' Adams Park.

League system[edit]

The national league system in women's football in England is currently operated by The FA, with the WSL at the top. For its first three seasons (2011–2013), the WSL is operating on a licence system with no promotion or relegation, similar to the system used in rugby league's Super League. The WSL replaced the FA Women's Premier League at the top of the system.[8] Its teams also compete for the Continental Cup.[9]

The Premier League is split into two levels: the first is the former top flight, the FA Women's Premier League National Division, with relegation to two equal leagues below this: the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division and the FA Women's Premier League Southern Division. Teams in these three divisions compete in the Premier League Cup.

Below the Premier League lie the four Combination Leagues, the South West, South East, Midland and Northern Combinations and below these are eight regional leagues. Below the regional leagues are the county leagues.[10]

As in the men's game, some Welsh women's football clubs compete in the English pyramid. The most successful are Cardiff City and the now defunct Barry Town, both of which have played in the Women's Premiership.

With the introduction of the WSL the top four levels looked like this over the past years:

Level until 2009/10 2011
WSL created
2014 WSL 2 created
WPL National Division scrapped (2013/14)
Combination restructured into WPL (2014/15)
1 WPL National WSL WSL 1
2 WPL North&South WPL National WSL 2
3 Combination WPL N&S WPL N&S
4 Regional Combination WPL Division 1
5 Regional Div. 1 Regional Regional

Pyramid[edit]

For the 2014/15 season the Combination Leagues (old level 4) were incorporated in the newly structured FA Women's Premier League.[11]

Level

League(s)/Division(s)

1 FA WSL
(8 clubs)
2 FA WSL 2
(10 clubs)
3 FA Women's Premier League Northern Division (WPL)
(12 clubs)
FA Women's Premier League Southern Division
(12 clubs)
4 WPL Northern Division 1
(12 clubs)
WPL Midlands Division 1
(12 clubs)
WPL South West Division 1
(12 clubs)
WPL South East Division 1
(12 clubs)
5 North West Women's Regional Football League Premier Div North East Regional Women's Football League Premier Div West Midlands Regional Women's Football League Premier Div East Midlands Regional Women's Football League Premier Div Southern Region Women's Football League Premier Division South West Regional Women's Football League Premier Div Eastern Region Women's Football League Premier Division London and South East Women's Regional Football League Premier Div
6

Feeding to North West Women's Regional Football League Premier Division:
North West Women's Regional Football League League Div 1 (North)
North West Women's Regional Football League League Div 1 (South)
Feeding to North East Regional Women's Football League Premier Division:
North East Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (North)
North East Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (South)
Feeding to West Midlands Regional Women's Football League Premier Division:
West Midlands Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (North)
West Midlands Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (South)
Feeding to East Midlands Regional Women's Football League Premier Division:
East Midlands Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (North)
East Midlands Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (South)

Feeding to Southern Region Women's Football League Premier Division:
Southern Region Women's Football League Division 1 (North)
Southern Region Women's Football League Division 1 (South)
Feeding to South West Regional Women's Football League Premier Division:
South West Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (East)
South West Regional Women's Football League Div 1 (West)
Feeding to Eastern Region Women's Football League Premier Division:
Eastern Region Women's Football League Division 1 (North)
Eastern Region Women's Football League Division 1 (South)
Feeding to London and South East Women's Football League Premier Division:
South East Counties Women's Football League Premier Div
London and South East Women's Regional Football League Div 1

7

Feeding to North West Women's Regional Football League League Div 1:
Greater Manchester Women's Football League
Lancashire WFL Div 1
Cheshire WFL Div 1
Liverpool WFL
Feeding to North East Women's Regional Football League League Div 1:
West Riding WFL Prem
East Riding WFL
Sheffield & Hallamshire WFL
North Riding WFL
Durham WFL Div 1
Feeding to West Midlands Regional Women's Football League Div 1:
Staffordshire WFL Div 1
Worcestershire WFL
Shropshire WFL Div 1
Birmingham WFL Div 1
Feeding to East Midlands Regional Women's Football League Div 1:
Leicestershire WFL
Northants WFL
Lincolnshire WFL
Nottinghamshire WFL Div 1

Feeding to Southern Region Women's Football League Division 1:
Thames Valley WFL Div 1
Hampshire WFL Div 1
Feeding to South West Regional Women's Football League Div 1:
Gloustershire WFL Div 1
Somerset WFL Div 1
Dorset WFL
Devon WFL Premier Div
Cornwall WFL Div 1
Feeding to Eastern Region Women's Football League Division 1:
Norfolk WFL
Suffolk WFL
Cambs & Hunts WFL
Beds & Herts WFL Div 1
Essex WFL Div 1
Feeding to South East Counties Women's Football League Premier Div:
South East Counties Women's Football League Div 1 (East)
South East Counties Women's Football League Div 1 (West)
Feeding to London and South East Women's Regional Football League Div 1:
Greater London WFL Div 1

8

Feeding to Lancashire WFL Div 1:
Lancashire WFL Div 2
Feeding to Cheshire WFL Div 1:
Cheshire WFL Div 2
Feeding to West Riding WFL Premier Division:
West Riding WFL Div 1
Feeding to East Riding WFL:
East Riding WFL Div 2
Feeding to Durham WFL Div 1:
Durham WFL Div 2(2)
Feeding to Staffordshire WFL Div 1:
Staffordshire WFL Div 2
Feeding to Shropshire WFL Div 1:
Shropshire WFL Div 2
Feeding to Birmingham WFL Div 1:
Birmingham WFL Div 2
Feeding to Nottinghamshire WFL Div 1:
Nottinghamshire WFL Div 2

Feeding to Thames Valley WFL Div 1:
Thames Valley WFL Div 2 (North)
Thames Valley WFL Div 2 (South)
Feeding to Hampshire WFL Div 1:
Hampshire WFL Div 2
Feeding to Gloustershire WFL Div 1:
Glouctershire WFL Div 2
Feeding to Somerset WFL Div 1:
Somerset WFL Div 2
Feeding to Devon WFL Prem Div:
Devon WFL Div 1
Feeding to Cornwall WFL Div 1:
Cornwall WFL Div 2
Feeding to Essex WFL Div 1:
Essex WFL Div 2
Feeding to South East Counties Women's Football League Div 1:
Kent WFL
Sussex WFL Div 1
Feeding to Greater London WFL Div 1:
Greater London WFL Div 2 (North)
Greater London WFL Div 2 (South)

9

Feeding to West Riding WFL Div 1:
West Riding WFL Div 2
Feeding to Hampshire WFL Div 2:
Hampshire WFL Div 3
Feeding to Cornwall WFL Div 2:
Cornwall WFL Div 3
Feeding to Essex WFL Div 2:
Essex WFL Div 3
Feeding to Sussex WFL Div 1:
Sussex WFL Div 2
Feeding to Greater London WFL Div 2 (North):
Greater London WFL Div 3 (North)
Feeding to Greater London WFL Div 2 (South):
Greater London WFL Div 3 (South)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Email Us (2012-07-28). "'Football is quite unsuitable for females' - The Irish Times - Sat, Jul 28, 2012". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  2. ^ "BBC SPORT | WOMENS EURO 2001 | Girls plea to be taken seriously". BBC News. 2001-06-21. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  3. ^ "Birmingham - Sport - Women's football popularity on the rise". BBC. 2007-05-07. Retrieved 2012-08-26. 
  4. ^ "Women's soccer kicks up in England - espnW". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  5. ^ Buckley, Will (2009-09-09). "The forgotten story of ... the Dick, Kerr's Ladies football team | Will Buckley | Football | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  6. ^ "The ladies football team so good the men at the FA banned them | The Sun |Features". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  7. ^ Holden, Kit (1997-02-27). "When Ladies of Preston ruled the world - Sport". London: The Independent. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  8. ^ "Women's soccer kicks up in England". espn.go.com. Retrieved 2014-01-11. 
  9. ^ Tony Leighton (2011-01-30). "Trip to Norway is a real eye-opener for Lincoln Ladies' Rod Wilson | Football". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  10. ^ History of the South West Combination from southwestcombination.co.uk. Retrieved 20 November 2006.
  11. ^ "FA WPL clubs to be considered for WSL entry from 2016". thefa.co.uk. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 

External links[edit]