Manchester United Women are the biggest winners as the Football Association announced its long-awaited revamp of the women’s pyramid. This is a huge milestone in the Gameplans for Growth strategy.
Manchester United Announce New Women’s Team
United Answer the Critics
There has been criticism that Manchester United, as one of the world’s biggest clubs, have not had a women’s team. They have answered that by winning a bid for a spot in the second tier of the women’s game; rebranded as the Championship.
United have announced the team will play at the club’s training ground, The Cliff, in Salford, after redevelopment work has been completed. There has been strong speculation that England’s former captain Casey Stoney will be their first manager to try and get into the top tier quickly.
New to Top Tier
Also new to the top tier, which will now be known as the Women’s Super League, are West Ham. They were the only team to apply for a Tier One licence. That means the Super League is a lopsided 11 teams with fans complaining that one team won’t be playing each week. The FA’s hands appeared to have been tied by the lack of other applicants for the top tier.
Brighton and Hove Albion, under former England coach Hope Powell, are also in the new Super League. This is despite finishing second to women’s game pioneers Doncaster Belles. They will stay in the Championship due to their financial position.
The new Championship welcomes Sheffield United who will be looking forward to a tasty local derby with Sheffield FC. Other newcomers are Charlton Athletic, who won the third tier promotion play-off, Leicester City and Lewes who will share their ground with the men’s team.
Sunderland Ladies Are the Biggest Losers
The biggest losers are Sunderland Ladies, who came seventh in this year’s campaign but have not found a place in either league next season. They may have become victims of the turmoil at their parent club but it does leave the North East without a top tier club. This is despite the fact that the region nurtured five players who featured in the last England game.
Sunderland may feel more aggrieved when they see Yeovil retain their place in the Super League. Yeovil had a tough season where they managed only two goals, securing the same number of points in the process. There is a 14-day appeal process and in a statement said they would ‘take some time to fully consider the options available to us in relation to Sunderland AFC Ladies.’
Subject to the clubs signing their licence with the FA, and the appeals process, then the teams in the FA Women’s Super League for the 2018/19 season will be: Arsenal Women, Birmingham City Ladies, Bristol City Women, Chelsea FC Women, Everton Ladies FC, Liverpool Ladies FC, Manchester City Women, Reading FC Women, Yeovil Town Ladies and West Ham United Ladies.
The FA Women’s Championship line up will be: Aston Villa Ladies FC, Doncaster Belles, Durham Women FC, London Bees, Millwall Lionesses, Sheffield FC Ladies, Tottenham Hotspur Ladies, Charlton Athletic Women, Leicester City Women Lewes FC Women, Manchester United Women, Sheffield United Women.
The 2018/19 seasons kicks off on the weekend of the 18/19 August with the opening rounds of the Continental Cup. The Super League and Championship commence on the weekend of 8/9 September.