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FA head of women's leagues targets WSL expansion

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The Women's Super League could be expanded to 24 teams in the future, according to the FA's head of women's leagues and competitions, Katy Brazier.

The are currently 18 teams in the top two tiers of the WSL, which is being increased to 20 clubs by the year 2017.

"Where we really want to get to is 24 fully-professional women's teams playing in the league," Brazier told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra .

"But we need to do that slowly, so the clubs can become sustainable."

Sheffield became the first team to be promoted to WSL Two when they beat Portsmouth in the Premier League play-off final, having also met the WSL's licensing requirements.

In addition to being able to prove their financial solvency, clubs applying for entry to the Super League must show they will attract an average of 350 spectators in 2016, increasing to at least 400 in 2017.

"We have a licence system within the WSL and the reason for that is to try and influence and shape the way that money is invested into the game and do it slowly, in a measured way," Brazier added.

"By having a salary cap in place, it means that we can also ensure that money is invested off the pitch, as well as on the pitch, in salaries.

"Building things slowly is really important, because we want it to be sustainable." http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/33676705

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I hope the next expansion is better thought out than the one which is about to happen. Having a nine-team WSL1 is logistical nonsense. I don't care if it will only be for one year, it did not have to be done like this.

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I assume she is referring to a potential 12/12 split between the two divisions as opposed to one giant 24 team division because then that wouldn't be summer league size at all. It would however be a complete disaster in terms of competitiveness.

I'm not sure I like the prospect of four additional years of the 'one down/two up' method which is about to be used to take us from 18 to 20. If you have an odd number in a division it means a team has to sit out every round of games, which for the WSL would be a scheduling headache we could really do without given it is apparently already too hard to draw up a functioning fixture list. I hope they come up with a different plan for attack for the next phase.

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Do you think it will be a 12/12 split?  I wouldn't be suprised if it's a 10/14 instead.  It would make more sense if they want the WSL1 to not become too diluted in talent.  I to don't like the 9 club league but i guess there is no other way unless you bring up two right away without relegation.  Some of the WPL have odd teams so it's not unheard of but I hate when a club has a bye week.

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There are two problems created with having a smaller first division than second division and both are on show currently. Problem one is that clubs who would be more than worthy of a place in the first division don't get in which holds back their own development and then by extension the game as a whole. Problem two is that everybody who is in the first division already is too good for the second division.

Ideally, you want a division split to leave a parity buffer zone between the two―you want the bottom of WSL1 and the top of WSL2 to be the same level. The main reasons for needing is so that the promoted club doesn't find themselves in above their heads and the relegated club doesn't find themselves a big fish in a small pond.

Eight clubs in WSL1 is too small for a buffer zone to be there and is also too small for real competition at the bottom of the table, because all of the clubs who would be that competition are falling on the other side of the division split. 10 teams would improve this to some extent. 12 would make it even better. It's all well and good wanting to concentrate the quality into WSL1 but that only improves what is happening at the top end of the table, not the bottom. If you want effective promotion/relegation you do actually need a proper relegation contest being fought by three or four. Otherwise it becomes a forgone conclusion who is going down, and very often they will have done too much work off the pitch to deserve it being flushed down the toilet which is what relegation does. Ask Everton where their fan base has gone. How is that development?

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Good point about the buffer zone.  Do you think they'll eventually relegate/promote 2 clubs a season?  Also when is relegation going to start in WSL2 some of those bottom teams are really poor?

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If we have a 12/12 split I wouldn't mind two up two down. If it is 10/14 I would rather only one up one down because I would like to think that by the time we get to 24 clubs there will be 10 who have developed themselves into clubs worthy of being a constant presence in WSL1. To drop any of them out would be a waste. The key to progress is stability, so the more room for clubs to establish themselves as stable WSL1 sides the better imo.

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Guest wrote:Also when is relegation going to start in WSL2 some of those bottom teams are really poor?
"No FA WSL 2 club will be relegated from The FA WPL, as their licences protect them from relegation until 2017" http://www.fawsl.com/news/fa_wpl_to_get_entry_into_fa_wsl.html#izddzzLlDxzTadVe.99

I don't know whether to interpret that as meaning somebody is relegated at the end of the 2017 season or relegation kicks in for the 2018 season onwards?

All licence will be under review and with new entrants a possibility the worse team in WSL 2 and WSL 1 might not be granted a licence... in theory. As the FA looks to have 24 teams they will need to add more in 2018 or later.
By the way there are 6 full time professional teams in FA WSL 1 and none in FA WSL 2. So the 24 teams target is far away.

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It doesn't matter how many years it takes to get to the 24 pro clubs target, we still won't have enough players to fill 24 squads without a mass influx of foreign imports. Which the FA won't have.

Anonymous wrote:It doesn't matter how many years it takes to get to the 24 pro clubs target, we still won't have enough players to fill 24 squads without a mass influx of foreign imports. Which the FA won't have.
53 foreigners in 8 FA WSL 1 squads as of today, if we go to 24 teams that would mean more or less 150 foreigners clearly a massive influx.

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And you would have to think, that on the whole, foreign players of a sufficient level won't come to play in WSL2 anyway, they would want top division football. So if WSL2 can't get imports to fill squads it is going to become even more diluted by the time it expands (assuming it would) than it is now.

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Has there been any indication at all about whether or not this imminent expansion to 20 clubs is also going to coincide with a season length extension as well? More teams obviously equals more fixtures and we can't seem to accommodate the ones we already have never mind additional ones on top. I really don't see how we are supposed to expand the number of clubs without extending the season length at the same time.

And if we were to expand to 24 clubs at some point in the future that would require further season length extensions again, which surely means we are therefore on course to one day stop being summer league length? You can only run a summer league for so long before you end up being winter league length because summer leagues by nature are supposed to be shorter. And when you end up being the same length as a winter league does it not make more sense to just be an actual winter league?

I really don't understand what the FA's long term vision is, it doesn't seem very logical to me.

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They'd have to lengthen the season and I see it being more of a hybrid summer league than a true summer league. I'm not sure if WSL could sustain 24 clubs, i think that 20 clubs should be the limit until we have more depth in our homegrown talent. Like the poster above said foreigners will be less likely to play in WSL2 so that means that it will have to be populated with quality youngsters and older players that haven't been snatched up by the WSL1 for either their developmental or first teams to be competitive.

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If the WSL wasn't so void of squad depth I expect WSL1 clubs would be loaning their youngsters to WSL2 sides in order to get them a higher level of football than what the development league provides and more minutes than what the first team provides. But that isn't going to happen until WSL1 clubs can stop keeping their youngsters with them just for the sake of being able to name a bench.

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I don't personally believe the pros of being a summer league (whether a legit or hybrid one) outweigh the cons which we are having to deal with right now. If we one day end up running for the same length of time as the average winter league then from a logistical point of view it makes more sense to switch back to the winter calendar for the sake of ridding ourselves of things like the scheduling problems we currently experience due to our clashes with the continental and international tournaments.

Extensions to the WSL schedule will one day mean our mid-season break falls at the same time the Bundesliga and D1 are in their off-season and our off-season falls when the Bundesliga and the D1 are in their mid-season break. Everybody is playing the same length season, and playing during the same months of the year, but we are running backwards to the Uefa and Fifa calendars. But for what purpose?

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Simple, trying to get an audience. Even the men's Scottish league is flirting with the idea of shifting their season so it's not exactly the same as the premier league for viewing numbers.

I think if a club is managed correctly our league schedule could actually be a benefit for the CL and I think our girls were gaining momentum through out the World Cup when some of the European teams looked fatigued and more injury prone due to coming off a long season as the tournament went on. The major issue with our schedule is the England girls coming back from a summer tournament without at least a two week break. Which could be fixed with added depth through out each WSL club and only schedule the first rounds of the Continental Cup during those few weeks since most WSL1 clubs put out weaker sides anyway.

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The argument that playing summer league football is to avoid a clash with men's football is flawed beyond belief. I really can't believe it has gained as much traction as it has. The men's season runs for 10 months of the year; you can't possibly avoid it, you are going to clash at some point. The only time the WSL can benefit from there being no men's football is during the other two months of the year when it is the men's off-season. But where is the WSL during the men's off season? It is on it's summer break. For a good chunk of the men's off-season there is no WSL football either. It makes no sense.

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IMO the WSL season was not designed to not clash with the men's game but was designed to not exactly mimic it and therefore help gain more of an audience. General to moderate fans are usually more interested in the beginning and finals of a season than the drudgery of the mid-season. So if the WSL season begins and ends similar to the men's season, the women's game will never outcompete it interest-wise. However, if the WSL starts in March and ends in October/November the casual fan might tune in while the men's game is more or less in a lull. It be interested enough to continue to watch it. And likewise the men's game is ending and beginning while the WSL is in mid-season and potentially not as interesting. The WSL schedule also provides some football part of the time when the men's game is not on and the women's game internationally at least on odd years provides football the other part of the time. No season schedule is going to be perfect but the WSL schedule seems to be working and IMO provides more benefits than drawbacks.

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We are currently working on a schedule which was purposefully designed to cause us to clash with things that would directly affect the running of our own league just so we reduce a clash with men's football when men's football doesn't impact on our day-to-day. It is ludicrous.

In order to run the WSL so that it isn't parallel to the men's season we are having to live with things like our league commencing at the same time as the quarters and semis of the WCL, therefore meaning the English clubs in the WCL get to play quarters and semis when they are practically still in pre-season, as well as also being forced to postpone their opening fixtures back at home and starting off on the back foot from day one. Handicap x2. Then we have the start of the second half of our season clashing with the summer youth international tournaments, therefore meaning that any club who decides to actually make their young players an integral part of their team has to choose between postponing matches in their absence and getting a fixture pile up, or playing on in their absence as a weakened side, or risking the wrath of the FA by refusing to release them. They are screwed whatever they pick.

There are more examples but I think I've made the point already. Our efforts to avoid the supposed cons of sharing a time frame with men's football are only putting us on course to collide with things which are actually on our path as apposed to merely running parallel to it. Benefits are not benefits if you are shooting yourself in the foot multiple times in order to get them.

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