FA Women's National League
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The FA Women's National League is a Football Association-branded league and is run by an elected management committee. It sits at step 3 and 4 of the Women's Pyramid of Football pyramid in England, supporting and underpinning the Women's Super League (WSL) and the Women's Championship. Prior to the 2018–19 season, it was known as the Women's Premier League.
|Number of teams||150|
|Level on pyramid||3–4|
|Promotion to||FA Women's Championship (since 2015)|
|Relegation to||Regional Leagues|
|Domestic cup(s)||FA Women's Cup|
FA Women's National League Cup
FA Women's Premier League Plate
|Most championships||Arsenal (12 titles)|
|Current season (2019–20)|
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. 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 – WSL 2. (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. To accomplish this, the four Combination Women's Football Leagues were incorporated as the Premier League's new Division 1. At level 3 in the pyramid now is the Northern and Southern division; a level below are four groups of Division One leagues: North, 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. The first play-off was contested between Portsmouth and Sheffield F.C. at Stratford FC's ground, with the latter winning through a stoppage time goal.
Currently there are two tiers and a total of six divisions that make up the National League: the two tier 3 divisions, the Northern and Southern divisions, as well as four regional tier 4 divisions: Division One North, Division One Midlands, Division One South East and Division One South West.
In the 2019–20 season, 24 teams compete in the Premier League (12 teams per division) and 47 teams compete in Division One (12 teams per division except for Division One South East which has 11 following the disbanding of Southampton Saints prior to the start of the season).
Premier League Northern Division
- Derby County
- Huddersfield Town
- Hull City
- Loughborough Foxes
- Nottingham Forest
- Sheffield F.C.
- Stoke City
- West Bromwich Albion
Premier League Southern Division
- Cardiff City
- Chichester City
- Crawley Wasps
- Keynsham Town
- Milton Keynes Dons
- Oxford United
- Plymouth Argyle
- Yeovil Town
Division One North
- Bolton Wanderers
- Bradford City
- Brighouse Town
- Durham Cestria
- Leeds United
- Liverpool Feds
- Newcastle United
- Norton & Stockton Ancients
- Stockport County
Division One Midlands
- Bedworth United
- Birmingham & West Midlands
- Burton Albion
- Doncaster Rovers Belles
- Leafield Athletic
- Leicester United
- Long Eaton United
- Lincoln City
- Solihull Moors
- Sporting Khalsa
- The New Saints (TNS)
- Wolverhampton Wanderers
Division One South East
- AFC Basildon
- AFC Wimbledon
- Billericay Town
- Cambridge City
- Cambridge United
- Enfield Town
- Ipswich Town
- Kent Football United
- Leyton Orient
- Norwich City
Division One South West
Below is a list of National Division champions and Premier League winners up to 2012-13. The Premier League was run by the Women's Football Association for its first two seasons before being taken over by the FA from the 1993–94 season. (Similarly, the Women's FA Cup, which dates from 1970, 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.)
National Division ChampionsEdit
|Season||Premier League winners|
and English champions
|Season||Premier League winners|
- 1 First season without the top teams, as FA WSL became top tier of women's football.
- 2 Last season of a single national division.
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.
Regional Premier Division ChampionsEdit
- 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 Northern and Southern Divisions respectively.
- From the 2014–15 season onwards, the club promoted to FA Women's Championship (via a play-off between the Northern and Southern division champions), and overall champions of the FA National League, are marked in bold.
- Blackburn won the Championship play-off but both teams were promoted as part of an overall increase in the number of WSL teams.
Regional Division One ChampionsEdit
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||Division One North||Division One Midlands||Division One South East||Division One South West|
|2014–15||Guiseley AFC Vixens||Loughborough Foxes||C & K Basildon||Forest Green Rovers|
|2015–16||Middlesbrough||Leicester City||Crystal Palace||Swindon Town|
|2016–17||Guiseley Vixens||Wolverhampton Wanderers||Gillingham||Chichester City|
|2017–18||Hull City||Loughborough Foxes||Milton Keynes Dons||Plymouth Argyle|
|2018–19||Burnley||West Bromwich Albion||Crawley Wasps||Keynsham Town|
The main cup competition of the National League is the FA Women's National League Cup, a knock-out competition involving all of the teams within the six divisions that make up the National. 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.
During the 2014–15 season, the FA Women's National League Plate was introduced. Under the current format, the teams that are eliminated from the opening round of the League Cup are entered into the 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.