WSL to welcome WPL clubs

The FA has approved the expansion of The FA WSL and will consider eligible clubs from the newly-formed FA Women’s Premier League (WPL) for entry from 2016.

The expansion was agreed by The FA Women’s Board and was advised to clubs at the inaugural meeting of the new FA WPL, where the league was constituted, on Sunday 22 June.  

For the start of the 2016 season, one FA WPL club will join FA WSL 2, providing they meet licencing requirements, with an additional club entering in 2017. No FA WSL 2 club will be relegated from The FA WPL, as their licences protect them from relegation until 2017.

FA WPL clubs will compete for entry, based on league position and meeting off-field licencing criteria, in the forthcoming season.

The new FA WPL 72-club league incorporates the former WPL and Combinations Leagues. It will be formed of six regional divisions, two Premier and four Divisions 1s, and the season will begin on 24 August.

The FA will provide central administrative support to The FA WPL around fixtures and player registration and is recruiting for a full-time league officer. The new league will receive an annual grant of £90,000 accessed by a league development plan.

Two members of the FA Women’s Football Board have been nominated to sit on The FA WPL management committee to provide league guidance and support.

Kelly Simmons, FA Director of National Game and Women’s Football, said: “When we launched The FA WSL in 2011, it was always our aim that the elite women’s division would be supported by a viable, sustainable pathway from the winter football pyramid.

“Expanding The FA WSL was one of our longer-term aims. We made a commitment to FA WPL clubs in January that we would look at the possibility and potential timescales of doing that and it’s great that we have been able to confirm this for the start of the season.  

“The new bigger FA WPL will provide a strong, sustainable structure for clubs. This is a real milestone in the development of women’s football in England and we’re looking forward to an exciting, competitive FA WPL season.”

The new FA WPL will be formed of The FA Women’s Premier League Northern and Southern divisions, and Division One South West, Division One South East, Division One Midlands and Division One Northern.