FA Women's National League
National League North
National League South
Division One North
Division One Midlands
Division One South East
Division One South West
Premier League National Division (1991–2013)
|Number of teams||150|
|Level on pyramid||3–4 (since 2014)|
|Promotion to||FA Women's Championship (since 2015)|
|Relegation to||Regional Leagues|
|Domestic cup(s)||Women's FA Cup|
|League cup(s)||FA Women's National League Cup|
FA Women's National League Plate
|Most championships||Arsenal (12 titles)|
|Current: Current season (2020–21)|
The FA Women's National League is a group of six football divisions run by the English Football Association. From 1991 to 2018, it was named the Women's Premier League (WPL) and included England's top division from 1991 to 2010.
The Women's Premier League National Division contained England's top women's clubs from 1991–92 until the season 2009–10. During this time, Arsenal W.F.C. won 12 WPL titles. Below the National Division was a Northern Division and Southern Division, whose teams could win promotion.
The WPL National Division became the country's level 2 division from 2010–11 to 2012–13 (with the Northern and Southern at level 3). The WPL National Division ended in 2013, and was replaced at level 2 by FA WSL 2, later renamed the Championship. The Northern Division and Southern Division teams (continuing at level 3) have since played for promotion to this division.
The feeder divisions of the Combination Women's Football Leagues (1998–2014) became officially part of the WPL system in 2014 at level 4. From these four divisions (North, Midlands, South East and South West), clubs can win promotion to the level 3 National League North or National League South.
The FA has run the Women's Premier League/National League for most of the competition's existence, but the league was organised in its first two seasons (from 1991 to 1993) by its founders, the Women's Football Association.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (September 2020)
Before the National League, women's teams nationally had competed in the WFA Cup (Women's FA Cup) since 1970, and there were English regional leagues, but this was the first regular nationwide competition of its kind.
The Women's National League was inaugurated in the 1991–92 season by the Women's Football Association (WFA), with a monetary grant from the Sports Council. Eight teams played in the top flight in that year. From the League's foundation, it consisted of a national premier division and two lower divisions, the Northern and Southern Divisions, whose winners each season were promoted to the top flight.
From the WPL National Division's origins in 1991–92 until its disbandment after the 2012–13 season, the division was above the Northern and Southern Divisions. Since 1991–92, the Northern and Southern Divisions have run on an equal basis (with their teams usually seeking promotion), and this continues today. The terms Women's Premiership and Ladies Premiership were generally used for the National Division only.
The WPL National Division lost several clubs prior to the 2010–11 season and the division was demoted to level 2, due to the creation of the FA WSL in 2011. (Note that the WSL was a summer league for its first six years, as opposed to the WPL's winter format.) Strangely, the lower divisions were still given the name "Premier League" for eight more seasons.
After the WPL National Division seasons at level 2, from 2010–11 to 2012–13, that division was scrapped due to the FA's decision to add another WSL division, WSL 2, for its 2014 season, which included some clubs that moved from the WPL. The only divisions in 2013–14 with WPL branding were the Northern and Southern Divisions at league level 3.
For the 2014–15 season, the Women's Premier League incorporated the four existing Combination Women's Football Leagues (level 4), as the Premier League's "Division One", with four groups of Division One leagues: North, Midlands, South East and South West. The FA proposed rebranding the WPL collectively as the Women's Championship League, but instead the six divisions kept the name Women's Premier League until 2018.
At level 3 in the pyramid now, the winners of the Northern and Southern Divisions have played each other since 2014–15 in a one-off play-off at a neutral venue for an opportunity to be promoted into the level 2 division, the first instance of promotion from the WPL to the WSL. The first play-off was contested between Portsmouth and Sheffield F.C. at Stratford FC's ground, with the latter winning through a stoppage time goal.
The level 3 and 4 divisions were renamed the Women's National League from 2018–19.
National Division champions
Below is a list of women's Premier League National Division champions from 1991–92 until 2012–13.
The Premier League was run by the Women's Football Association for its first two seasons before being taken over by the FA from the 1993–94 season. (Similarly, the Women's FA Cup, which dates from 1970, was run by the Women's Football Association from 1970–71 to 1991–92 inclusive, and was taken over by the FA from the 1993–94 season.)
Level 1 national champions
|Season||Premier League winners|
and English champions
Level 2 national champions:
|Season||Premier League winners|
From 2014, the level 2 national division was FA WSL 2.
Regional Premier Division champions
Level 2 champions:
Level 3 champions:
- 2010–11 runners-up Cardiff City and Coventry City also promoted to National Division, due to formation of WSL
- In 2013 the National Division ended; no automatic promotions but Reading, Millwall and Yeovil were elected to WSL 2
- From 2014–15 onwards, the club marked in bold was promoted to WSL 2/Women's Championship via a play-off between the Northern and Southern Division champions, and was overall champion of the WPL/National League.
- Blackburn won the Championship play-off but both teams were promoted as part of an increase in the number of WSL teams.
- 2019–20 season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic; no titles awarded; no promotion or relegation at level 3.
Regional Division One Champions
Following the incorporation of the Combination Women's Football Leagues into the Women's Premier League in 2014, the Women's Premier League consisted of an additional four regional leagues below the Northern and Southern Divisions.
|Season||Division One North||Division One Midlands||Division One South East||Division One South West|
|2014–15||Guiseley Vixens||Loughborough Foxes||C & K Basildon||Forest Green Rovers|
|2015–16||Middlesbrough||Leicester City||Crystal Palace||Swindon Town|
|2016–17||Guiseley Vixens||Wolverhampton Wanderers||Gillingham||Chichester City|
|2017–18||Hull City||Loughborough Foxes||Milton Keynes Dons||Plymouth Argyle|
|2018–19||Burnley||West Bromwich Albion||Crawley Wasps||Keynsham Town|
- Season was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. No titles were awarded and there was no promotion or relegation.
Currently there are two tiers and a total of six divisions that make up the National League: the two third-tier divisions, the Northern and Southern Premier divisions, as well as four regional fourth-tier divisions: Division One North, Division One Midlands, Division One South East and Division One South West.
In the 2020–21 season, 24 teams compete in the Premier Division (12 teams per division) and 47 teams compete in Division One (12 teams per division except for Division One South East which has 11 following the disbanding of Southampton Saints the previous season).
- Division One North
- Division One Midlands
- Division One South East
- Division One South West
Seventy-two clubs throughout England and Wales compete in the Women's Premier League, with six divisions of twelve teams, though this number has varied historically due to the changing structure of women's football. Following the formation of the FA Women's Super League, the number of clubs competing in the national division decreased from 12 to 8. Likewise the number of teams in both the Northern and Southern Divisions decreased from 12 to 10, resulting in the total number of team's in the Women's Premier League decreasing from 36 to 28.
Following the expansion of the WSL with the addition of a second division, the National League was abolished. As a result, both the Southern and Northern Divisions increased to 11 teams each. Several clubs which had previously been competing in the National Division were moved into the Southern Division including Charlton Athletic, Cardiff City, Portsmouth and Coventry United (formerly Coventry City).
For the 2014/15 season, the Combination Leagues were incorporated into the newly rebranded FA Women's Premier League, as a result, the WPL now consisted of 72 teams in 6 divisions.
The main cup competition of the National League is the FA Women's National League Cup, a knock-out competition involving all of the teams within the six divisions that make up the National. Due to the changing structure of women's football, this competition has historically varied from a straight knock-out competition to a competition with a preliminary group stage before reaching the knock-out stage.
During the 2014–15 season, the FA Women's National League Plate was introduced. Under the current format, the teams that are eliminated from the opening round of the League Cup are entered into the Plate.
- List of association football competitions
- FA Women's Premier League National Division
- FA Women's Premier League Northern Division
- FA Women's Premier League Southern Division
- FA Women's Premier League Cup
- Garin, Erik; Di Maggio, Roberto. "England - List of Women Champions". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
- Williams, Jean (2003). A game for rough girls?: a history of women's football in Britain. Routledge. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-415-26338-2. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
- Davies, Pete (30 August 1995). "Life's a pitch for women footie players". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
- "Women's Super League".
- "An introduction to the FA Women's Premier League". The FA. 13 August 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
- "From the 2014/15 season The FAWPL and Combination Leagues will merge to form the Women's Championship League". The FA. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 2 September 2020.
- "FA Women's Championship: New name chosen for England's second tier". 26 February 2018.