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The FA Women’s National League

Overview

Within England’s Women’s Pyramid of Football, the FA Women’s National League sits in the third tier. As of 2017-2018, the league consists of two tier 3 divisions: (1) Northern Division and (2) Southern Division. It also consists of four tier 4 division: (1) Division One North, (2) Division One Midlands, (3) Division One South East , (4) Division One South West. The division is operated by an elected management committee.

The league and competition has now been around for 27 years. Typically each of the six leagues has 12 teams, with a total of 72 teams. However, teams are constantly being promoted and demoted, and when teams resign, the league has to be flexible in its structure. For example after two resignations and one promotion, the Northern Division have 13 teams while the Division One Midlands only had 11 teams.

Restructuring

However, it was not always structured this way. Up until 2013, the FA Women’s Premier League National Division was at the top with the Southern and Northern divisions underneath (though they were equal). However, after the FA Women’s Super League was created, the National Division league was demoted from being the top tier of the women’s football pyramid. When the FA decided to add another, second, division to the Women’s Super League, the National Division was eliminated.

Premier Division

For both the Northern and Southern Division, the league is “played on a home and away basis, with each team playing each other twice, and points being awarded in the standard football format.”[1] For the Northern Division, based on their location, the two poorest performing teams are pushed to the Division One North and Division One Midland. Similarly, for the Southern Division, the two lowest teams are pushed to the Division One South West and Division One South East leagues. Subsequently, the highest performing team of each of the divisions plays against one another, with the winner being promoted to the Women’s Super League.

For the 2018-2019 season, the following are the teams per division:

Northern Division

Position Team
1 Blackburn Rovers
2 Sunderland
3 Middlesbrough
4 Derby County
5 Huddersfield Town
6 Fylde Ladies
7 Stoke City
8 Guiseley Vixens
9 Hull City
10 Nottingham Forest
11 Sheffield
12 Doncaster Rovers Belles
13 Bradford City

Southern Division

Position Team
1 Coventry United
2 Chichester City
3 Cardiff City
4 Oxford United
5 Plymouth Argyle
6 Watford
7 Loughborough Foxes
8 Portsmouth
9 Gillingham
10 Milton Keynes Dons
11 Queens Park Rangers
12 C & K Basildon

Sources:

[1] “FA Women’s National League North.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 Mar. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FA_Women%27s_National_League_North.

[2] “FA Women’s National League.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 24 Nov. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FA_Women%27s_National_League.

[3] “FA Women’s National League.” Womens Soccer United, www.womenssoccerunited.com/groups/womens-premiernorthernsouthern-leagues/.