FA WSL licence application for 2018/19 extended

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.

Coming back to the point in bold, the application have been extended to a deadline on the 9th of october
“Under the revised schedule, recommendations will be made to and assessed by the FA Women’s Football Board by end of December 2017. “

“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.

FA Women’s Premier League season 2017/18

 

 

The 2017/18 season will start on Sunday the 20th of August 2017 and supposed to finish with the play-off game on Sunday the 27th of May 2018. The play-off winner should be replaced the team finishing at the bottom of the FA WSL2.

The following 105 teams will compete in the six  FA Women’s Premier League Divisions

In the Southern Division, there will be  a question mark if Cardiff can get promoted as FA WSL teams but be registered with an English county, but rumors last season going round suggested they would be allowed to go up.

Charlton are favourite while, Cardiff and Coventry have always finished closed to the top in recent seasons. We also know that Crystal Palace and West Ham Utd are ambitious and are planning to try to get to the FA WSL in the future.

In the Northern Division, Blackburn Rovers will be the team to beat as they finished the League season unbeaten and won the League with 11 and 20 points ahead of second and third place.

The full fixtures list will be revealed in July. The FA WPL Cup draw has also been made as well as the Reserves Cup draw with ties to be played on the 3rd of September.

The reserves Leagues are as follows :

and the Reserves cup draw is as follows

I will try to get to FA WPL games when I am not at FA WSL or international games as it is a very entertaining and interesting Leagues and there are some diamonds in those teams that could play at a higher level if given a chance.

 

 

Watford Ladies v Spurs Ladies

I went to Vicarage Road on Wednesday to watch an interesting friendly between Watford currently in FA WSL 2 and Spurs Ladies who have just won the FA WPL Southern Division and will contest the FA WSL promotion play-off against Blackburn Rovers.

Unfortunately for fans, the game was played behind closed door and I guess this is due to cost involved in policing stewarding etc as the matchday revenue would certainly not cover the use of the ground.

I think it was good for both team’s players to play at such a venue rather than their usual ground.  What I noticed is all the players seem to enjoy the venue and not troubled by playing at such a nice ground. Obviously a couple of Watford players had already played there and Spurs recently won the FA WPL title at White Hart Lane.

Watford ended up 2-0 winners in a game where both sides decided to rotate their team. Simona Petkova scored an excellent volley from a corner in the first half and Cherelle Albert added a second goal from the penalty spot.

It was certainly interesting as Spurs are certainly looking to promotion in the FA WSL and from the number of games I saw this year they would not look out of place, the only exception being the FA Women’s Cup North London Derby where they looked like a rabbit caught in the headlight and did not perform at their usual level.

Watford Ladies are obviously in a rebuilding process with Keith Boanas trying new players and he is likely to make even more signings during the Summer break as players become available.

So it was an entertaining game and a real shame, only friends and family were invited to watch it.

March 2017 FA WSL/FA WPL international call-ups

For those who are not familiar with the FIFA Women’s International match calendar, there is an international window for teams where they can play up to four games from the 27th of February to the 8th of March.

The following tournaments involve players from the FA WSL 1&2  and FA WPL. The club have to release the players to their national team as per the FIFA regulations and FA WSL clubs with games during the tournament can request a postponement.

Of course, the FA have blocked the dates so that no FA WSL 1 games are being played but they put the FA WSL 2 Matchday 4 in that period of time , for some unknown reason.

The FA WSL Spring Series rules say :

“A Club having three (3) or more Qualifying Players or one (1) goal keeper selected for international duty in accordance with Annexe 1 of The FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (this does not include Players on standby) by their National Association for senior representative, under 21, under 20 or under 19 national representative matches (or any combination thereof) may request a postponement of any Competition Matches that takes place during the period of time in which the Players are called up by their National Association team or within 2 days of their return from international duty provided that at least 10 days’ notice in writing has been given to the Competition Secretary. The Management Committee shall decide in its absolute discretion whether the postponement shall be granted.    ”

So the FA can actually refuse a postponement and penalize a team that is forced to send their player on international duty by FIFA to field a weaker team. Make what you want of this rule, but if half of your team is on international duty and you have to play a game, the integrity of that competition is simply compromised.

The FA WPL rules say :

“Clubs shall support The Football Association in relation to International Matches in
accordance with the provisions of The Football Association Rules.
A Club having 2 players or more selected for International Duty for their National
Association may request a postponement of its League fixture provided that at least
10 days notice is given to the League Secretary in writing.
If 1 player is selected and that player is the goalkeeper a Club could make a similar
request for the postponement of its League fixture. This will only apply to Senior
and Under 19 matches which are played within the FIFA Women’s International
match calendar.”

Those are the actual tournaments played in the international window :

SheBelieves Cup, Algarve Cup, Cyprus Cup, Istria Cup, La Manga U23, La Manga U19 and players from FA WSL 1&2 and FA WPL will take part is those tournaments. You would certainly expect some games to be postponed or at least requested to be postponed in that period.

The following players from the top two Leagues have been called up so far, file will be updated as soon country relase their news.

international

The FA open the FA WSL licensing from 2018-19, analysis part 2

In part 2, I will speak about certain things that don’t make sense to me in the FA information published yesterday

This is part of the FA WPL 2016/17 regulations published by the FA  a few months ago

For Season 2016/17 the Champion Club as determined by the Championship Play-Off Final match outlined at paragraph (iv) will be promoted to FA WSL subject to eligibility and ability to meet FA WSL Licensing Criteria.”

Now if that promotion happens, the FA WSL2 would have 11 teams in 2017/18 and one team will be relegated as what is written below at the end of that season ? The wording from the FA is extremely confusing on that situation.1

Let’s rewind to the Spring Series, FA WSL 1 will have 10 teams and FA WSL 2 will have 10 teams.  Their season end in May 2017 for WSL 2 and early June 2017 for WSL 1. The FA WPL play-off should happen early May like in the previous seasons.

If the FA WPL play-off winner is promoted as per the regulations, the FA WSL 2 will have 11 teams in 2017/18. In the meantime, the promoted team won’t be in the running for a 2018/19 license, as there are 20 open and only to the current FA WSL teams with a deadline at the end of March 2017. Does this mean that team will automatically get relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season ?

But if we look at the BBC article about the changes, it seems promotion from the FA WPL won’t happen at the end of the 2016/17 season.

“There will be one relegation spot in WSL 2 from the end of the first winter season to drop out of the WSL.

One club will continue to be promoted from the WPL up to the second tier, via a play-off, each season, with the winners of the WPL Northern Division facing the Southern champions.

In between WSL 1 and WSL 2, one team will continue to be relegated each season, while one team will be promoted.

This one-up, one-down system throughout the top three tiers means there will a total of 20 teams in the WSL, with 10 teams in each division, bringing a halt to the WSL’s expansion, which started in 2014.”

Now, with promotion this season, if one team from the FA WSL 2 is relegated to the FA WPL at the end of 2017/18 and the FA WPL 2017/18 champion is promoted we would have 11 teams in FA WSL 2 comes the start of the 2018/19 season. 21 teams and 20 licenses only ?

And in the meantime one team that would have been given a 2018/19 license would lose it potentially to an unlicensed team for 2018/19, if the FA WPL 2016/17 champions stays up. Now if you give a license to a team and do not honor it, you open yourself to legal action or any kind of appeal imo.

The only way for the FA WSL 2 to stay at 10 teams is to have two relegation from FA WSL 2 to the FA WPL for one promotion at the end of the 2017/18 season  or, simply to cancel that article from the FA WPL rules and have no team promoted at the end of the  2016/17 season.

Now let’s have a look at the curious situations that could arise from the fact that the license for the season 2018/19 will be distributed prior to the season 2017/18 will be played on the pitch. It obviously means that on the pitch result are irrelevant after all for 2017/18.

1a from the situation above, one the 10 FA WSL 2 team gets a 2018/19 license, but is relegated at the end of the 2017/18 season on the pitch. It looks like on the pitch result would prevail. But then why grant a license to that team, if they are not guaranteed an access to FA WSL 2? Why not wait until the end of the 2017/18 season to attribute the licenses?

1b same case a below , the FA WSL 2 team is granted a FA WSL 1 license for 2018/19 and is relegated on the pitch at the end of the 2017/18 season. What takes precedence, the on the pitch or off the pitch results ?

2 a FA WSL 2 team is not granted a licence for 2018/19 and is promoted on the pitch to FA WSL 1 . The answer is clear that team goes down to the FA WPL or any step lower in the pyramid, but that would embarrass the FA and shock the public.

3a same thing with a FA WSL 1 team not granted a licence 2018/19 wins the title or qualify for the Champions League. Again no doubt, that team would be kicked out of the FA WSL. Another embarrassment for the FA to have a Champions League side playing at level 3,4,or 5 in the pyramid. You could imagine the uproar should a League 1 side was competing in the men’s champions league.

3b same case a FA WSL1 team is granted a FA WSL 2 license and  qualify for the champions league, no problems, relegation for the team but an embarassment to have a lower division team playing in the elite european club competition.

The FA announcement leaves so many loopholes open and the timing of the Licensing choice is so wrong and they really should have done it later or renewed the licence from the 2017/18 seasons to avoid all the potential conflicts that will arise.

And I am not even talking about the transparency of the process as we still don’t know if it was fairly applied in the two previous times for the 2011 and 2014 licenses. Why the FA never published the teams ranking and the reason for giving licences to certain teams is beyond me. It only fuels the suspicion of conspiracy theories and bitterness for the teams not selected.

The FA open the FA WSL licensing from 2018-19, a short analysis

The FA have finally announced the opening of the licensing for the FA WSL from 2018/19 and as usual it is quite surprising to read.

The first line come as a shock as :

Applications will only be open to current FA WSL clubs – with 20 licences available (10 for each division).”

Basically any  non promoted FA WPL or newly created club will have to wait for their turn, unless one of the current team decides not to try to renew their licence.

“The FA WSL clubs have made great strides in the past six years and have demonstrated a massive commitment to the women’s game. It is crucial that we build on these foundations and work together to strengthen the standard of the league, which is why we have elected to firstly open the applications to the current FA WSL clubs.

The clubs have worked tirelessly since the FA WSL was launched to establish themselves, develop players and coaches and build their fan bases and its right that we reward that level of time and investment”

You could bet there are some FA WPL teams, who are better financially and marketing wise that some FA WSL 2 teams today, and on the pitch as well, but they cannot bid for a place.

As of today and pending the promotion for Yeovil and Bristol and Doncaster’s relegation, here are the expected teams for FA WSL 1 and FA WSL 2.

FA WSL 1 (10)  : Arsenal, Birmingham, Bristol, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester, Notts County, Reading, Sunderland, Yeovil

FA WSL 2 ( 10) : Aston Villa, Brighton, Doncaster, Durham, Everton, London Bees, Millwall, Oxford, Sheffield and Watford

 

Another very surprising point is the deadline and  timing result of the bids :

“The deadline for applications is 31 March 2017. The applications will then be reviewed and approved by The FA Women’s Football Board at their meeting in mid-May 2017.”

Teams have three months to prepare their bids, which is quite short, but they are all well used to the bidding process. To me the timing is all wrong again. The FA clearly does not mind having teams who know that they will be promoted or relegated in June 18 by June 2017. Does this make sense ?

We will have potentially the same issue that happened last time round, when Doncaster Belles were demoted after Matchday 1 and with 13 games to go. How can teams get motivated, if they know that they will go down at the end of the season.

It also means no relegation/promotion on the pitch actually, as all teams will come with a  clean slate in 2018/19. You could end up with teams earning promotion/relegation on the pitch, but not rewarded because they are not strong enough off the pitch.

Although this has been in place since 2011 with off the pitch criteria having priority on football results, it still feels a bit annoying to see sporting results not rewarded. But we have known it from the start, when all teams became franchises rather than football clubs.

One good news is the introduction of relegation from the FA WSL 2 to the FA WPL, something that should have happened years ago, but was not possible because of the League  different schedules.

“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.

The promotion position for the FA Women’s Premier League (FA WPL) play-off winners will be continued.”

” we know that there is a lot of excellent work taking place across the FA WPL and clubs at all levels and we will help those clubs, to be ready on and off the pitch should they win promotion. We believe that introducing relegation from the FA WSL to FA WPL will further increase the competitiveness and quality of the league.”

 

One of the newest and biggest point is licensing is only valid for one season, a huge change from the previous situations when they were given for 3 and 5 years.

“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.”
Teams who fail to fulfill the criteria might end up demoted to the FA WPL or any lower division as there is no explanation given yet. You would expect teams to get dropped to regional level though ?
“Should a place in the FA WSL become available outside of promotion and relegation, it will be made available through an open application process”
This is the backdoor entry, if one of the 20 FA WSL team do not meet the criteria for FA WSL 1 &2. That way a team below the FA WSL with enough money and marketing might come in straightaway.  For example, one team might fail in their bid and by June 2017, the FA could open a licence to replace one or more teams.
 Then comes the financial side of the business with the FA  pledging to give more money to the clubs :

“Following consultation with clubs, the new licences will see current club development grants replaced by partnership funding agreements. These bespoke agreements will ensure funding is directed to both support the unique need of each individual club’s development along with the league as a whole.

FA WSL 1 clubs will have access to up to £92,500, increased from the current £70,000 allocation, while FA WSL 2 clubs will have access to up to £62,500, increased from £35,000.”

This is exactly the opposite of what they were proposing back in 2010 when the FA WSL licensing opened :

finance
There some new medical criteria as well, nothing really dramatic in there, in order to improve the players fitness :

“As part of the new licence criteria, all FA WSL 1 clubs will be required to employ a full-time strength and conditioning coach, while FA WSL 2 clubs must implement daily strength and conditioning programmes for players.”

 

Let’s hope there are no big surprises come the licensing results are announced in May or we could see some very strange situations develop.

FA WSL 2018 licensing what could happen next ?

Back in 2013, licensing was given to clubs for the 2014-2018 period, so we are now getting close to the  bidding reopening soon. hopefully next year but teams are surely preparing their application especially the potential new entrants.

The 2017-18 season will see a return to the winter season and we will have the following teams competing :

WSL 1 10 teams : Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Birmingham, Notts County,  and two out of the following three teams : Sunderland, Reading and Doncaster. plus the two promoted teams

WSL 2 10 teams : the WSL1 relegated team,two of the four following teams Bristol, Yeovil, Everton and Durham, London Bees, Aston Villa, Sheffield FC, Millwall Lionesses, Oxford United, Watford Ladies plus the team promoted after the FA WPL 2016/17 play-off.

Let’s remember the minimum licensing criteria and the minimum budget which is matching what the FA give to the FA WSL sides

licensing

WSL 1 minimum budget is £140,000 and WSL 2 is £70,000.There is no doubt that the top 3 teams budget is not far from 10 times the minimum budget for the 2013-18 period so there is no doubt that their licensing will be renewed.

The big question is do all the 20 teams have done a good enough job to retain their licence, especially off the pitch. I mean the on the pitch fortunes can change very quickly and is clearly linked to budget and recruitment but on the marketing and infrastructure side, some side might be behind the targets.

If you also look at the FA  targets in terms of attendance, I am not sure many have actually reached them in WSL1&2 this season.

I believe there will be a raft of new entrants application for the 2018 licences and the worse rated WSL team might actually lose their licence. we might even get a situation with teams actually not applying for renewal, if some of the parents club do not intend to back up their Ladies/Women side with enough cash.

There have been rumors in the women’s football world of Southampton or AFC Fylde looking to bid for a FA WSL place with good backing and also there is no real traction behind this, people always wonder if Manchester United could one day relaunch their women side.

At the end of the day, with a combined week’s wages of Rooney, Pogba and Ibrahimovic, United would certainly have a budget to compete with the current top 3 teams. It is a big question mark about the licensing process.

Will a new entrant access straight to WSL 1 like Manchester City did in 2014 and therefore kick-out from the division one of the team like it happened to the Belles, who were relegated one game into the 2013 season. Will the new entrants in WSL2 also kick out some of the WSL2 teams back to the WPL or lower divisions?  It will be an interesting time when the licencing reopen next year.

And because there is no transparency on the bid selection, we will have the same conspiracy theory as seen for the 2011 and 2014 licences when people did wonder what had happened and why certain teams were selected rather than others. The only transparency we saw was for Doncaster because they appealed and therefore some stuff was disclosed.

Otherwise, everything will stay as opaque as it was for the first two times.