The FA WSL, formerly given the working title FA Women's Super League, is the highest division of women's football in England. The league is run by the Football Association and began in April 2011. An initial eight teams currently compete in the league, which replaced the FA Women's Premier League as the highest level of women's football in England. As yet there is no system of promotion and relegation with the Women's Premier League, which continues to play a winter season. WSL seasons run from April until October, with teams playing 14 matches each, totalling 56 matches. The WSL champions and runners-up qualify for the UEFA Women's Champions League the following season. The current champions are Liverpool, who won the title in the 2013 season.
The official name The FA WSL and logo of the league were announced on 19 November 2010.
- 2 Competition structure
- 3 Sponsorship
- 4 Media coverage
- 5 Clubs
- 6 Players
- 7 Champions
- 8 All time table
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The WSL was due to start in 2010 but was deferred for a year due to the global economic downturn. Sixteen clubs applied for a place in the inaugural season of the league: Arsenal,Barnet, Birmingham City, Bristol Academy, Chelsea, Colchester United, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Everton, Leeds Carnegie, Leicester City, Lincoln Ladies, Liverpool, Millwall Lionesses,Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest and Sunderland. Leeds Carnegie later withdrew their application. Women's Premier League clubs Blackburn Rovers and Watford declined to apply. FA Chief Executive Ian Watmore described the creation of the league as a "top priority" in February 2010.
For the 2014 season the league will be extended. There will be a second division created named WSL 2 with one team being relegated from the WSL 1. WSL 1 will be made up by 8 to 10 teams, with WSL 2 having up to 10 teams. All current teams have to apply for a place again too. In addition all teams will have to organise a reserves team which will play in a regionally split WSL Reserves League. 
The WSL consists of eight member clubs and the season is played over the summer months. Initially the league was described as professional, with the top four players on each team being paid an annual salary in excess of £20,000. However, in November 2010 it was confirmed that the WSL will be semi-professional, with only a "handful" of top players full-time. Club's annual wage bills will be approximately one-tenth of those in the AmericanWPS. Although the FA envisage that the league will become fully professional in future, should it prove successful.
After the league fixtures, the teams compete for a knock-out cup competition, the FA WSL Continental Cup. The eight teams are seeded according to their final league position; with first place playing eighth, second playing seventh, third playing sixth and fourth playing fifth on 4 September 2011 in the first round.
The FA had intended to confirm a title sponsor by summer 2010, but failed to do so. In November 2010, however, the FA's project manager said that the WSL was "building up a family of commercial partners." Days before the competition began, Yorkshire Building Society and Continental Tyres were named as two of a proposed four "Lead Partners". Only Continental remained a lead partner for 2012. In 2013, it was announced that Continental had extended their partnership as the exclusive partner of the FA's new commercial programme from 2014-2018 and includes the England women's national football team, FA Women's Cup and the FA WSL Continental Cup in addition to the WSL.
On 8 December 2009, the FA and ESPN agreed an exclusive four year broadcast rights deal for television coverage of the WSL. Six live matches will be shown in 2011 addition to a weekly highlights package, with 10 games expected to be shown in 2012. ESPN televised the opening game of the WSL between Chelsea and Arsenal at Imperial Fields, Morden on 13 April 2011, a game Arsenal won 1–0 with a first half goal by Gilly Flaherty. The second televised game took place on 12 May 2011 as Doncaster Belles lost 1–0 to Everton Ladies at the Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster. Minor girl group PARADE became the competition's Official Ambassadors in March 2011.
In March 2013, it was announced that BBC Two would air four WSL programmes during the upcoming season. Each programme featured goal round-ups, highlights, features and previews of England's World Cup qualifiers.
The following eight clubs won two year licences to participate in the Women's Super League from 2011:
- Birmingham City
- Bristol Academy
- Doncaster Rovers Belles
- Lincoln Ladies
Six of those played their 2009–10 season in the FA Women's Premier League, Liverpool and Lincoln played in the 2nd level Northern Division, which Liverpool won. The goal is to expand the league to a maximum of 12 teams between 2013 and 2016. Later the eight clubs had their licences extended for the 2013 season, while plans continued to integrate the league into the lower tiers of women's football in England from 2014 onwards.Arsenal's Ellen White (L) and Steph Houghton (R) with the WSL trophy
In the first season of the WSL clubs were subject to a squad cap of 20 players. This proved unpopular with both managers and players. Ahead of the 2012 season the rule was reviewed and the cap increased to 23 players.
The FA said in April 2012 that the salary rule of allowing only four players per team to earn over £20,000 and the fact that all clubs are paid £70,000 per season from a Club Development Fund should limit any financial "imbalance" between clubs. However, the introduction of a genuine salary cap remained under consideration for 2013 and beyond. Doncaster manager John Buckleyrevealed that his club lost Rachel Williams and other players to Birmingham City because he was working to a budget eight times smaller than that enjoyed by Birmingham.
When the 2012 WPS season was cancelled in America, Lincoln Ladies manager Glen Harris said that the next destination of that league's British players would be decided by "pounds, shillings and pence." Ultimately Kelly Smith, Alex Scott and Gemma Davison all joined Arsenal, while Ifeoma Dieke and Anita Asante joined the Swedish Damallsvenskan in preference to the WSL.
Liverpool won the 2013 WSL following a 2-0 victory over Bristol Academy, in a title-deciding match on 29 September. Arsenal were the winners of the 2012 WSL. It was their ninth consecutive English championship after winning the last seven editions of the FA Women's Premier League.
|2011||Arsenal||Birmingham City||Everton||Rachel Williams (Birmingham City)||14|
|2012||Arsenal||Birmingham City||Everton||Kim Little (Arsenal)||11|
|2013||Liverpool||Bristol Academy||Arsenal||Natasha Dowie (Liverpool)||13|
|8||Doncaster Rovers Belles||3||42||6||8||28||32||96||–64||26|
1: Arsenal were deducted 3 points for fielding an unregistered player