FA WSL 1
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into FA WSL. (Discuss) Proposed since July 2016.|
|Founded||22 March 2010|
|Number of teams||9|
|Level on pyramid||1|
|Relegation to||FA WSL 2|
|Domestic cup(s)||FA Women's Cup
FA WSL Cup
|International cup(s)||Champions League|
|Current champions||Manchester City
|Most championships||Arsenal (2)
|TV partners||BT Sport|
|2016 FA WSL|
The Football Association Women's Super League 1 (FA WSL 1) is the highest division in of women's football in England. The division forms the top half of the Football Association Women's Super League, with relegation down to the WSL 2. 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 WSL 2 was introduced in 2014, bringing promotion and relegation to the league. The bottom team of the WSL 1 at the end of each season is replaced by the WSL 2 champion in the next season.
WSL 1 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 Chelsea, who won their first title in the 2015 season.
The official name The FA WSL and logo of the league were announced on 19 November 2010.
The WSL was due to start in 2010 but was deferred for a year due to the global economic downturn. 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. Leeds Carnegie later withdrew their application. Women's Premier League clubs Blackburn Rovers and Watford declined to apply. FA Chief Executive Ian Watmore described the creation of the league as a "top priority" in February 2010.
For the 2014 season the league was extended. A second division was created, with 9 new teams added and one team being relegated from the WSL 1. WSL 1 remained as 8 teams, with the WSL 2 having 10 teams. The new WSL 1 licence was awarded to Manchester City and Doncaster Rovers Belles were relegated to the WSL 2. Doncaster Belles appealed against their demotion, but were unsuccessful.
In December 2014, the FA WSL announced a two-year plan to expand the WSL 1 from an eight to a ten team league. Two teams were promoted from the WSL 2 at the end of the 2015 season, while one team was relegated to the WSL 2. Also, for the first time, a team from the FA Women's Premier League earned promotion to WSL 2, effectively connecting the WSL to the rest of the English women's football pyramid.
That change left the WSL 1 with nine teams and the WSL 2 with 10 teams for the 2016 season, and with the process repeated the following year, both WSL 1 and WSL 2 will have 10 teams each for the 2017 season.
|Season||WSL 1||WSL 2|
The WSL 1 currently consists of nine clubs and the season is played over the summer months. 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. However, in November 2010 it was confirmed that the WSL will be semi-professional, with only a "handful" of top players full-time. Club's annual wage bills will be approximately one-tenth of those in the American WPS. The FA envisage that the league will become fully professional in future, should it prove successful.
After the league fixtures, the teams compete for a knock-out cup competition, the FA WSL Continental Cup. For the 2014 season, the teams were placed into three regional groups of 6. The group winners and best-performing runners-up all advance to a knockout semi-finals. Since the 2015 season, the WSL Continental Cup have been played simultaneously with the league season.
The FA had intended to confirm a title sponsor by summer 2010, but failed to do so. In November 2010, however, the FA's project manager said that the WSL was "building up a family of commercial partners." Days before the competition began, Yorkshire Building Society and Continental Tyres were named as two of a proposed four "Lead Partners". Only Continental remained a lead partner for 2012. 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.
On 8 December 2009, the FA and ESPN agreed an exclusive four year broadcast rights deal for television coverage of the WSL. Six live matches will be shown in 2011 addition to a weekly highlights package, with 10 games expected to be shown in 2012. 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.
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.
- Birmingham City
- Doncaster Rovers Belles
- Manchester City
- Notts County
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. Ahead of the 2012 season the rule was reviewed and the cap increased to 23 players.
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. However, the introduction of a genuine salary cap remained under consideration for 2013 and beyond. 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.
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." 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.
|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|
|2015||Chelsea||Manchester City||Arsenal||Beth Mead (Sunderland)||12|
In the first three seasons the average attendance was about 550 to 600. For 2014 the average increased to 728 and in 2015 after a good World Cup result of the English national team the average was boosted to 1,076.
The record for a match was set in 2016, when 4,096 fans watched Manchester City win the title against Chelsea.
All time table
As of conclusion of the 2015 season.
|Doncaster Rovers Belles||3||42||6||8||28||32||96||-64||26||7th|
- 1: Arsenal were deducted 3 points in 2013.
- 2: Includes Lincoln Ladies
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