The news came about a month ago following the demise of Notts County Ladies and the restructure of the WSL1 and WSL2 with Everton promoted to make it ten teams in each division. But as usual questions remain as there are some grey areas in the announcement.
The most curious point is actually when the FA made the original announcement back in December 2016 they actually opened for 20 WSL teams licences available, which did not make sense at the time as the FA WPL was going to get promoted for the 2017/18 season. So if Notts had not folded , there would have been 21 teams including newly promoted Spurs fighting for 20 licences.
“The alignment of the FA WSL season with the rest of the women’s football pyramid will mean that relegation from FA WSL 2 into the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) will be introduced from the 2017-18 season.”
It is great to see relegation introduced and it will mean more pressure for teams at the bottom of the FA WSL2.
“The promotion position for the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) play-off winners will be continued.”
“The licences will begin for the 2018-19 season and, for the first time, will not be fixed-term. Clubs will need to continue to meet licence criteria on an annual basis.”
This is a huge change and quite a disruptive one as team can lose their licence and we do not know where they would end up if they lose theirs. You also have to question what will happen to promotion relegation as well as teams could be promoted/relegated off the pitch, while the on the pitch results are different.
“Should a place in the FA WSL become available outside of promotion and relegation, it will be made available through an open application process.”
We all know that there is media pressure for United to get a women’s team but Southampton who now have an RTC and a u20 team are in better position to grab a licence if there is an opening.
“The constitution of clubs within the competition will be confirmed at the FA WSL AGM in June 2018. Licences will begin from the 2018-19 season.”
So basically by January 2018, the teams will already know where if they will play FA WSL1, FA WSL2 or if they will lose their licence for the 2018/19 season. We are talking here FIVE months before the end of the 2017/18 season.
And then we get told there is promotion relegation between FA WSL 1 – FA WSL 2 and FA WSL 2- FAWPL. Now, it is does not make sense to me at all, does it means the FA will actually have promotion relegation off the pitch as well as promotion relegation on the pitch.
Remember prior to the 2014 season Doncaster Belles were relegated off the pitch one game into their season and went to FA WSL 2, while newcomer Manchester City Ladies went straight to FA WSL1. And to be fair, considering City’s investment for their women’s football team, it was with hindsight the right decision.
So far example, what if the team with the smallest FA WSL 1 budget finishes in ninth place or higher and is actually outbid by one team from the FA WSL 2 that subsequently replace them for the 2018/19 season when licence are delivered.
Does it mean that the team that finished bottom of the FA WSL 1 is not relegated and the team that finished top of the FA WSL 2 is not promoted, or does it mean that we would see a double promotion relegation?
And because licences are now offered for one season only and need to be renewed every season, we will get the same scenario every season and we don’t know if off the pitch results takes priority over on the pitch results.
At the end of the day, if a team is not allowed to compete in FA WSL1 because of lack of money, infrastructure or else, but is promoted or staying up in the division, you have to wonder what the FA will decided to do and it is an incredibly grey area.
As previously mentioned the Belles were demoted one game into their season and the FA got lucky that they finished bottom of the FA WSL 1 that year and it looked like a normal relegation rather than a demotion to the general public.
I intend to ask the FA and see what the answer they come up with as the impact of those decisions is important in term of fairness of the competition.