The appreciation of women’s
football in Britain is constantly growing and advancing
it into the mainstream sports arena. However, women’s
football leagues have been around for much longer than
many people realize. Documentation of matches between
women’s teams dates back as far as the late 1890’s.
Despite a continual gain in popularity up until 1920,
the Football Association officials banned the sport
after it was deemed to be inappropriate for women to
play. The ban was finally lifted in 1972. Once again,
this gave women the freedom to play football on fields
across the country. With the ban removed, women’s
football became so popular that Europe eventually served
as host of the Women’s European Championships in 2005.
Women’s Football League Organizational Pyramid
In England, the women’s
football leagues are organized in a pyramid formation
that becomes more geographically specific as you move
down the list. Currently set to begin in March 2011, the
FA Women’s Super League consisting of 8 teams will
supersede the current FA Women’s Premier League National
Division at the top level of the organizational pyramid.
The Football Association will take control of this
league to continue to assure the increasing awareness of
equality between in the sexes in football.
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Once the Women’s Super League is officially in place,
the FA Women’s Premier League National Division will
become the second level of the pyramid structure. For
the 2010-2011 football season as a result of the
creation of the new Super League, this National Division
will reorganize and go from consisting of a total of 12
teams to 8 teams. The structure of all games within the
league involves teams battling each other two times in
both home and away games; scores are recorded in a
standard format for all games.
Both the FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division and
Southern Division are represented in the third level of
the pyramid below both the Super League and Premier
League National Division. Spots in England’s Women’s
League Cup and the Football Association Women’s Cup are
available for champion teams from both the Northern and
Southern Divisions. Additionally, talented teams and
players from the lower levels of the organizational
pyramid can be promoted up the ladder into these
divisions to achieve both better pay and a stronger fan
following. From this point in the pyramid, the leagues
are broken down into more geographically specific
categories in levels three through five.
Following the Northern and Southern Divisions, the third
level of the pyramid is comprised of four Combination
League Clubs that began in 1998: Northern Combination,
Midland Combination, South West Combination and South
East Combination. The Combination League Clubs are
located just above the Regional League Premier Clubs
within the football organizational pyramid. These
leagues were specifically created to help mediate to
wide disparities in player talent between the top and
bottom level teams. The teams who qualify to compete in
these Combination League Clubs have an additional
incentive to perform well; the team with the best
overall performance will earn themselves a new place in
the Premier League.
The 8 Regional League Premier Clubs are the Eastern
Region Premier, London & SE Region Premier, South West
Region Premier, Southern Region Premier, West Midlands
Region Premier, East Midlands Region Premier, North West
Region Premier, and North East Region Premier. They are
divided and make up both the fourth and fifth levels of
the organizational pyramid. The North West and North
East Regions Premiers are located directly below the
Northern Combination League in the pyramid. The West and
East Midlands Premier fall below the Midland Combination
League. The Southern Region and South West Premiers are
below the South West Combination League. Finally, the
London & SE and Southern Region Premiers fall below the
South East Combination League.