To understand what is happening, having a good look at James Prickett’s pyramid is a good start :
Until 2011, the FA Women’s Premier League was the top division with the Northern and Southern division steps 2, then came the combination and the regional leagues. The FA WSL started in 2011 with 8 franchises selected on marketing and money mainly. Then in 2014, the FA WSL 2 wil start and the FA has decided to make a huge change in the winter football.
2014/15 will see The FA oversee a restructure of the women’s leagues
As previously communicated earlier this year, The FA WSL will expand to two divisions from 2014, and The FA has been reviewing the entire pyramid for women’s football in consultation with all stakeholders.
The FA absolutely recognises the importance of having a thriving winter pyramid in place to support the player pathway and ensure there is a league structure that can co-exist with significant changes at the elite level of the game.
From the 2014/2015 season onwards, it has been agreed that The FAWPL and the four Combination Leagues will amalgamate to form the Women’s Championship League, supported by The FA.
The change in league name is to ensure that there is a clear tier structure within the women’s football pyramid that can be understood by all stakeholders within the game, given the transformation of the pyramid since The FA WSL launched in 2011.
The new Championship League, which will become the 3rd and 4th tier of women’s football after The FA WSL 1 and The FA WSL 2, will receive an annual grant of £90,000 from The FA, accessed by a League Development Plan. In addition, The FA will also fund a League Secretary and a Referees Appointment Secretary.
The FA has invested significantly into women’s football with the introduction of The FA WSL and last year launched the ‘Game Changer’ five-year plan to help develop, support and grow the entire women’s game.
The FA has communicated these new league plans, following a lengthy consultation process, with all relevant stakeholders including all FAWPL Clubs and the Combination league representatives.
This process began in November 2012 and at the FAWPL SGM in March 2013 all clubs bar one, voted in favour of the proposal. All Combination League Management Committees consulted their clubs and the four Leagues were unanimously in favour.
A joint-liaison committee of FAWPL and Combination League representatives has been working together with The FA for a number of months to develop the new structure.
A member of The FA Women’s Football Committee will also be appointed to the new Championship League’s Management Committee to ensure FA support and guidance is ongoing in all league matters.
An interim Women’s Championship League Management Committee will also be elected by clubs in February 2014.
Then you hear about clubs being unhappy in the Telegraph article :
FA faces ‘worthless’ women’s football revolt
The Football Association is facing a revolt from Women’s Premier League clubs who claim they are being, “cast aside as worthless”, following the decision to cut funding and amalgamate the WPL with the Combination leagues in the wake of setting up a second level of the Super League.
While an annual total of £1.3 million is set to be invested in the two divisions of the now 18-club WSL, funding of what was £145,000 per annum spread across the 22 WPL clubs is to be dropped to £90,000pa to cover the 70 clubs that will make up what will become ‘The Women’s Championship supported by the FA’.
A ‘Save our WPL’ action group has been set up and the co-ordinator Jack Lewis, in a strongly worded email to clubs and players, reckoned that the amalgamation, “will not only set back women’s football in England but may even be a death knell for many existing clubs”.
It was with some surprise that Kelly Simmons, the FA’s head of the National Game and Women’s Football, heard of the action group’s claims. “The first I knew about this was through social media,” Simmons said. “No one has contacted me and I find it a little strange because, when we discussed the new structure with the clubs in March, all but one of them voted in favour.”
Lewes manager Jacqui Agnew, an assenter at that March meeting, said: “I voted ‘yes’ but the FA presentation was like, ‘accept this or we will pull everything out.’ There was no real consultation, and if I was voting on the proposals again I would be against them.
“The Super League is great for the profile of the women’s game and I’m all for it, but I don’t think its expansion, and the money going into it, should be to the detriment of WPL clubs.
“It takes £15,000-20,000 a year to run a club like ours and the £1,250 we’re now going to be getting will just about pay for travel expenses on one long away trip.
“There also doesn’t seem to be a time-line on the funding; so in four or five years’ time will it be gone completely?”
The Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, a qualified FA coach who runs the girls team Meridian in her Chatham & Aylesford constituency, is supporting the action group. “There’s a lack of clarity about what the FA are trying to achieve,” Crouch said. “I don’t think that clubs fully understood the consequences of the re-structuring when they met the FA in March.
“They feel there’s not a fair and level playing field and I think it’s now essential and urgent that the FA sits down with the clubs for further discussions.”
Simmons responded: “I would welcome a meeting. As well as funding for the new league we are proving administrative support, and we are certainly not casting aside WPL clubs – we want the new league to prosper.”
If a meeting takes place then Simmons will have to firmly stand the FA’s corner, the governing body’s ‘Game-changer’ initiative earlier this year – setting out plans for the future of the women’s game – having met with initial approval but is now facing questions at club level.
The Lewis email included the words: “We have extremely passionate people spitting feathers who have been running and sponsoring these [WPL] clubs for years who feel – quite rightly – that due to the elitism that the FA has endowed upon the WSL that their Gamechanger is actually a Gamedestroyer, at least at the level of the top winter league for women’s football in this country.”
If you want more information on the gamechanger 5 year plan, it is located here :
You can see that on page 9 the elite pathway and the pyramid progression Coe/FA WSL reserves/ FA WSL teams has de facto excluded those former WPL teams and players and relegated them to recreational football, creating a huge quality gap between those in the pathway and those who will be out.
The “save our WPL” campaign is up and running and their website is here :http://www.saveourwpl.com/
There is no doubt about the elite program and the clear objective of feeding the England teams at every level U15 to Seniors although the reduction in the number of Center of Excellence a few seasons had some detrimental effects but it is another subject…
If someone can explain the need to separate the elite and the rest in such a way that you feel there is the pacific ocean wide gap between those 2 integral parts of women’s football, answer on a postcard please.
An addendum to that post is the tables at the end of the FA WPL season 2009/10, the year before the FA WSL was formed
1. Arsenal* 2. Everton* 3. Chelsea* 4. Leeds 5. Sunderland** 6. Doncaster** 7. Blackburn 8. Millwall** 9. Watford **10. Birmingham* 11. Forest 12. Bristol*
1. Liverpool* 2. Lincoln *
1. Barnet** 2. Reading **
* now in WSL 1
**now in WSL 2