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"Women's Super League" redirects here. For the top level of women's rugby union in England, see Women's Super League (rugby union).
Fa wsl.jpg
Country England
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Founded 22 March 2010
Divisions 2
Number of teams 8 (WSL 1)
10 (WSL 2)
Levels on pyramid 1 (WSL 1)
2 (WSL 2)
Relegation to WSL 2
Domestic cup(s) FA Women's Cup
International cup(s) Champions League
Current champions Liverpool
Most championships Arsenal (2)
Liverpool (2)
TV partners BT Sport
Website www.fawsl.com
2015 FA WSL

The Football Association Women's Super League (FA WSL) is the highest league of women's football in England. The league consists of two divisions, the WSL1 and the WSL2. It is run by the Football Association and began in April 2011. An initial eight teams competed in the league, which replaced the FA Women's Premier League as the highest level of women's football in England. The FA WSL2, introduced in 2014, added a further 10 teams to the league. There is promotion and relegation between the two divisions, but not yet down to the Women's Premier League (level 3), which continues to play a winter season. WSL seasons run from April until October. The WSL champions and runners-up qualify for the UEFA Women's Champions League the following season. The current champions are Liverpool, who won the title in the 2013 season. The bottom team of the WSL1 at the end of each season will be replaced by the WSL2 champion in the next season.

The official name The FA WSL and logo of the league were announced on 19 November 2010.[1]


The WSL was due to start in 2010 but was deferred for a year due to the global economic downturn.[2] Sixteen clubs applied for a place in the inaugural season of the league: Arsenal, Barnet, Birmingham City, Bristol Academy, Chelsea, Colchester United, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Everton, Leeds Carnegie, Leicester City, Lincoln Ladies, Liverpool, Millwall Lionesses, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest and Sunderland.[3] Leeds Carnegie later withdrew their application.[4] Women's Premier League clubs Blackburn Rovers and Watford declined to apply.[5] FA Chief Executive Ian Watmore described the creation of the league as a "top priority" in February 2010.[6]

For the 2014 season the league has been extended. A second division was created, with 9 new teams added and one team being relegated from the WSL 1. WSL 1 remains as 8 teams, with one new team inserted, with the WSL 2 having 10 teams. [7] [8][9][10] The new WSL1 licence was awarded to Manchester City. Doncaster Rovers Belles were relegated to the WSL2, with nine new licences awarded to: London Bees;Durham; Aston Villa; Millwall Lionesses; Yeovil Town; Reading; Sunderland; Watford; and Oxford United.[11] Doncaster Belles appealed against their demotion, but were unsuccessful. [12]

Competition structure[edit]

The WSL consists of eighteen member clubs and the season is played over the summer months.[13] Initially the league was described as professional, with the top four players on each team being paid an annual salary in excess of £20,000.[14] However, in November 2010 it was confirmed that the WSL will be semi-professional, with only a "handful" of top players full-time.[15] Club's annual wage bills will be approximately one-tenth of those in the American WPS.[15] Although the FA envisage that the league will become fully professional in future, should it prove successful.[16]

During the inaugural campaign, a mid-season break commenced on 12 May 2011, to allow for the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. The season then resumed in early July, finishing in August 2011.[17]

After the league fixtures, the teams compete for a knock-out cup competition, the FA WSL Continental Cup.[18] For the 2014 season, the teams are placed into three regional groups of 6. The group winners and best-performing runners-up all advance to a knockout semi-finals.[19]


The FA had intended to confirm a title sponsor by summer 2010, but failed to do so.[13] In November 2010, however, the FA's project manager said that the WSL was "building up a family of commercial partners."[15] Days before the competition began, Yorkshire Building Society and Continental Tyres were named as two of a proposed four "Lead Partners".[20] Only Continental remained a lead partner for 2012.[21] In 2013, it was announced that Continental had extended their partnership as the exclusive partner of the FA's new commercial programme from 2014-2018 and includes the England women's national football team, FA Women's Cup and the FA WSL Continental Cup in addition to the WSL.[22][23]

Media coverage[edit]


On 8 December 2009, the FA and ESPN agreed an exclusive four year broadcast rights deal for television coverage of the WSL.[24] Six live matches will be shown in 2011 addition to a weekly highlights package, with 10 games expected to be shown in 2012.[17] ESPN televised the opening game of the WSL between Chelsea and Arsenal at Imperial Fields, Morden on 13 April 2011, a game Arsenal won 1–0 with a first half goal by Gilly Flaherty. The second televised game took place on 12 May 2011 as Doncaster Belles lost 1–0 to Everton Ladies at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster. Minor girl group PARADE became the competition's Official Ambassadors in March 2011.[25]


In March 2013, it was announced that BBC Two would air four WSL programmes during the upcoming season. Each programme featured goal round-ups, highlights, features and previews of England's World Cup qualifiers.[26]


The following eighteen clubs hold licences to compete in the Women's Super League.[11] Founder clubs are marked with a :[13]



Six of the original teams played their 2009–10 season in the FA Women's Premier League, Liverpool and Lincoln played in the 2nd level Northern Division, which Liverpool won. Later the eight clubs had their licences extended for the 2013 season, [27] with all eight plus the new ten teams being awarded licences in 2014.[11] The WSL 2 is expanding one club in 2016 and 2017, which will be promoted from the FA Women's Premier League provided they meet licencing requirements.[28]


Arsenal's Ellen White (L) and Steph Houghton (R) with the WSL trophy

In the first season of the WSL clubs were subject to a squad cap of 20 players. This proved unpopular with both managers and players.[29][30] Ahead of the 2012 season the rule was reviewed and the cap increased to 23 players.

Players from outside the European Union are subject to Home Office work permit regulations, like their male counterparts.[31]

The FA said in April 2012 that the salary rule of allowing only four players per team to earn over £20,000 and the fact that all clubs are paid £70,000 per season from a Club Development Fund should limit any financial "imbalance" between clubs.[21] However, the introduction of a genuine salary cap remained under consideration for 2013 and beyond.[31] Doncaster manager John Buckley revealed that his club lost Rachel Williams and other players to Birmingham City because he was working to a budget eight times smaller than that enjoyed by Birmingham.[32]

When the 2012 WPS season was cancelled in America, Lincoln Ladies manager Glen Harris said that the next destination of that league's British players would be decided by "pounds, shillings and pence."[33] Ultimately Kelly Smith, Alex Scott and Gemma Davison all joined Arsenal, while Ifeoma Dieke and Anita Asante joined the Swedish Damallsvenskan in preference to the WSL.


Liverpool won the 2013 WSL following a 2-0 victory over Bristol Academy, in a title-deciding match on 29 September. Arsenal were the winners of the 2012 WSL. It was their ninth consecutive English championship after winning the last seven editions of the FA Women's Premier League.[34]


Year Winner Runners-up Third Top Scorers Goals
2011 Arsenal Birmingham City Everton Rachel Williams (Birmingham City) 14
2012 Arsenal Birmingham City Everton Kim Little (Arsenal) 11
2013 Liverpool Bristol Academy Arsenal Natasha Dowie (Liverpool) 13
2014 Liverpool Chelsea Birmingham City Karen Carney (Birmingham) 8


Year Winner Runners-up Third Top Scorers Goals
2014 Sunderland Doncaster Rovers Belles Reading Francesca Kirby (Reading) 24

All time table[edit]

After 2014 season


Bolded teams play in the 2015 season. Sunderland in 2015 became the tenth team in the WSL.

Club Sns Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts Best
Arsenal 4 56 36 12 8 123 59 +64 1171 1st (2)
Birmingham City 4 56 27 17 12 96 66 +30 98 2nd
Bristol Academy 4 56 23 12 21 79 80 -1 81 2nd
Liverpool 4 56 21 11 24 90 90 0 74 1st (2)
Everton 4 56 18 15 23 72 89 -17 69 3rd
Notts County2 4 56 17 16 23 64 65 -1 67 5th
Chelsea 4 56 20 8 28 77 85 -8 68 2nd
Doncaster Rovers Belles 3 42 6 8 28 32 96 -64 26 6th
Manchester City 1 14 6 1 7 13 16 -3 19 5th
Sunderland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
  • 1: Arsenal were deducted 3 points in 2013.
  • 2: Includes Lincoln Ladies

See also[edit]


  1. ^ shekicks.net; FA Unveil New League Title And Logo
  2. ^ Tony Leighton (6 April 2009). "Anger at delay of women's summer Super League". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  3. ^ "Super League's Sixteen Applicants". Shekicks. 7 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  4. ^ Tony Leighton (25 January 2010). "Leeds Carnegie could fold after ending Super League interest". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  5. ^ "Rovers decide against Super League". Blackburn Rovers. 20 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  6. ^ "Watmore outlines top priorities". The Football Association. 22 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  7. ^ "FA WSL 2014: Applications". thefa.com. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "FA WSL 2014-2018 brochure". thefa.com. Retrieved 1 March 2013. 
  9. ^ "The FA WSL Club Development Plan". thefa.com. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Clubs bid for WSL spot". thefa.com. Retrieved 27 May 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c "FA Selects Clubs for WSL". WSL. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  12. ^ Baber, Mark. "Doncaster Belles lose appeal over demotion from Women's Super League". Inside World Football. Retrieved 17 April 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c "Women's Super League". thefa.com. The Football Association. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  14. ^ Tony Leighton (1 November 2009). "FA to launch full-time professional Women's Super League in 2011". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  15. ^ a b c Tony Leighton (14 November 2010). "FA confident 'Super League' will not suffer financial meltdown". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-11-23. 
  16. ^ "FA hopes new Women's Super League will go professional". BBC Sport. 2011-04-11. Retrieved 2011-04-16. 
  17. ^ a b "FA WSL launches with derbies". UEFA.com. 23 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-27. 
  18. ^ Laura Hardy (27 July 2011). "The FA brings the Continental Shot Stoppers Road Show to Everton". Conti.de. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  19. ^ WSL Continental Cup Group A WhoScored.com Accessed 17-04014
  20. ^ "Two WSL partners announced". She Kicks. 11 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  21. ^ a b "FAQ's 21 to 28". FAWSL. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  22. ^ "Continental Tyres Renews Women's Super League Sponsorship in New FA Deal". isportconnect. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  23. ^ "FA Extends Deal With Continental Tires To Become Exclusive Women's Football Partner". Sports Business Daily. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  24. ^ "FA agree Cup deal with ESPN". The Football Association. 8 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  25. ^ "PARADE call the shots". The Football Association. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-04-12. 
  26. ^ "Women's Super League to be shown on the BBC". BBC. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  27. ^ "FAQ's 1 to 5". FAWSL. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  28. ^ "FA to expand WSL in 2016". gloucestershirefa.com. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014. 
  29. ^ "Matt Beard/ Chelsea LFC". shekicks.net. 2011-09-06. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  30. ^ "WSL progress continuing, says Liverpool's Vicky Jones". 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  31. ^ a b "FAQ's 15 to 20". FAWSL. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-04-08. 
  32. ^ "Buckley – We Were Outclassed". Doncaster Rovers Belles. 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  33. ^ Whiley, Mark (2012-02-13). "Lincoln Ladies boss Glen Harris continues search for global talent". Lincolnshire Echo. Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  34. ^ "Arsenal are WSL champions". shekicks.net. 28 August 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2011. 

External links[edit]