FA Women's Premier League

FA Women's Premier League
Country England
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Founded 1992
Divisions 6
Number of teams 72
Level on pyramid 3–4
Promotion to FA WSL 2 (since 2015)
Relegation to Regional Leagues
Domestic cup(s) FA Women's Cup
FA Women's Premier League Cup
Current champions Brighton & Hove Albion
Most championships Arsenal (12 titles)
Website thefa.com/wpl
Current season (2016–17)

The FA Women's Premier League is a Football Association branded league and is run by an elected management committee along with FA Board representatives. It sits at step 1 and 2 of the current women's winter football pyramid in England and level 3 and 4 of women's football in England overall, supporting and underpinning The Women's Super League.


The Women's Premier League consists, as of 2014–15, of a Northern and Southern division and four Division 1 leagues. In the 2014–15 season, 72 teams competed in the two divisions of the Women's Premier League.

From its foundation in 1992–93 through until 2012–13, the league was run in a pyramid format, with the FA Women's Premier League National Division at the top, and the Northern and Southern divisions running on an equal basis underneath the National Division. The winners of these leagues each season were promoted to the National Division. The terms Women's Premiership and Ladies Premiership were generally used for the National Division only. The National division had been the top tier of women's football on its foundation, but was demoted after the creation of the FA Women's Super League in 2011.[1] Following the 2012–13 season, the National Division was scrapped due to the FA's decision to add a second division to the WSL for the 2014 season (note that the WSL is a summer league, as opposed to the Premier League's winter format).

For the 2014/15 season the Premier League was restructured to have a second level, for this the Combination Women's Football Leagues were incorporated to the new Division 1. At level 3 in the pyramid now is the Northern and Southern division, a level below are four groups of Division 1 leagues: Northern, Midlands, South-East and South-West.

In addition, the winners of the Northern and Southern Divisions would play each other in a one-off play-off at a neutral venue for an opportunity to be promoted into the WSL, the first instance of promotion between the WPL and the WSL. This play-off was contested between Portsmouth FC Ladies and Sheffield FC Ladies at Stratford FC's ground, with the latter winning through a stoppage time goal. For the 2015/16, there will again be a play-off between the champions of the Southern and Northern Divisions.


Below is a list of National Division champions and Premier League Cup winners, alongside the winners of the other major competitions for which FA Women's Premier League clubs are eligible, counted from the time the Women's Premier League was formed; the FA Cup dates from 1970 and the Community Shield (formerly the Charity Match and the Charity Shield) from 2000. The FA Cup was run by the Women's Football Association from 1970–71 to 1992–93 inclusive, and was taken over by the FA from the 1993–94 season. Likewise, the Premier League was run by the Women's FA for its first two seasons before being taken over by the FA.

National Division Champions

Season Premier League winners
and English champions
1991–92 Doncaster Belles
1992–93 Arsenal
1993–94 Doncaster Belles
1994–95 Arsenal
1995–96 Croydon WFC
1996–97 Arsenal
1997–98 Everton
1998–99 Croydon WFC
1999–00 Croydon WFC
2000–01 Arsenal
2001–02 Arsenal
2002–03 Fulham
2003–04 Arsenal
2004–05 Arsenal
2005–06 Arsenal
2006–07 Arsenal
2007–08 Arsenal
2008–09 Arsenal
2009–10 Arsenal
Season Premier League winners
2010–111 Sunderland
2011–12 Sunderland
2012–132 Sunderland

Croydon W.F.C. changed their name to Charlton Athletic in the summer of 2000, and competed as Charlton Athletic for 2000–01 and subsequent seasons. Leeds United L.F.C. changed their name to Leeds Carnegie in 2008–09 but returned to Leeds United Ladies for the 2010–11 season.[2]

Regional Division Champions

Season Northern Division Southern Division
1991–92 Bronte Arsenal
1992–93 Aston Villa District Line
1993–94 Wolverhampton Wanderers Bromley Borough
1994–95 Aston Villa Maidstone Tigresses
1995–96 Tranmere Rovers Southampton Saints
1996–97 Bradford City Berkhamsted
1997–98 Ilkeston Town Southampton Saints
1998–99 Aston Villa Reading Royals
1999–2000 Sunderland Barry Town
2000–01 Leeds United Brighton & Hove Albion
2001–02 Birmingham City Fulham
2002–03 Aston Villa Bristol Rovers
2003–04 Liverpool Bristol City
2004–05 Sunderland Chelsea
2005–06 Blackburn Rovers Cardiff City
2006–07 Liverpool Watford
2007–08 Nottingham Forest Fulham
2008–09 Sunderland Millwall
2009–10 Liverpool Barnet
2010–11* Aston Villa Charlton Athletic
2011–12 Manchester City Portsmouth
2012–13 Sheffield Reading
FA WSL adds second division
2013–14 Sheffield Coventry City
2014–15 Sheffield Portsmouth
2015–16 Sporting Club Albion Brighton & Hove Albion

Following the incorporation of the Women's Combination Leagues into the Women's Premier League in 2014, the Women's Premier League consisted of an additional four regional leagues below the Northern and Southern Divisions:

Season Northern Division One Midland Division One Southeast Division One Southwest Division One
2014–15 Guiseley AFC Vixens Loughborough Foxes C & K Basildon Forest Green Rovers
2015–16 Middlesbrough L.F.C. Leicester City W.F.C. Crystal Palace Swindon Town

*Due to the formation of the WSL, Cardiff City and Coventry City were also promoted to the National Division after finishing runners-up in the Southern and Northern Divisions respectively.

From the 2014–15 season onwards, the club promoted to FA WSL (via a play-off between the Northern and Southern division champions), and overall champions of the FA WPL, are marked in bold.

Cup Competitions

The main cup competition of the WPL is the FA Women's Premier League Cup, a knock-out competition involving all of the teams within each of the six divisions that make up the WPL. Due to the changing structure of women's football, this competition has historically varied from a straight knock-out competition to a competition with a preliminary group stage before reaching the knock-out stage.

From the 2014/15 season, the FA Women's Premier League Plate was introduced. Within the current structure of the Women's Premier League Cup, each of the teams compete in the preliminary round. The losers of this round then compete for the FA Women's Premier League Plate.



Seventy-two clubs throughout England and Wales compete in the Women's Premier League, with six divisions of twelve teams, though this number has varied historically due to the changing structure of women's football. Following the formation of the FA Women's Super League, the number of clubs competing in the national division decreased from 12 to 8. Likewise the number of teams in both the Northern and Southern Divisions decreased from 12 to 10, resulting in the total number of team's in the Women's Premier League decreasing from 36 to 28.

Following the expansion of the WSL with the addition of a second division, the National League was abolished. As a result, both the Southern and Northern Divisions increased to 11 teams each. Several clubs which had previously been competing in the National Division were moved into the Southern Division including Charlton Athletic, Cardiff City, Portsmouth and Coventry United (formerly Coventry City).

For the 2014/15 season, the Combination Leagues were incorporated into the newly rebranded FA Women's Premier League, as a result, the WPL now consisted of 72 teams in 6 divisions.

See also


External links

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