Women’s Football – A Guide to the 2017 Spring Series
Some of England’s top women’s football teams will be in action this weekend, as the clubs in the highest division of the Football Association Women’s Super League (FA WSL 1) start their Spring Series campaigns, and those in the lower division (FA WSL 2) continue theirs. So what is this competition and how can you keep up to date with the latest results?
The WSL Spring Series – A Transitional Event
In 2016, the FA announced that the Women’s Super League competition would be held from September until May in 2017, rather than from March until October, as it had been in previous years. This means that, in future, it will run at the same time as other European leagues.
The FA stated that, due to the change, they would be holding a bridging event between February and May 2017. This one-off competition would be called the WSL Spring Series and each team would play every other team in its division once. Although no teams would be promoted or relegated as a result of their performances, football trophies would be presented to the two divisions’ winning teams.
In addition to ensuring that fans don’t miss out on any Super League action due to the schedule change, the event has also been designed with another aim in mind.
According to an article on the FA’s website, Kelly Simmons, the organisation’s director of football participation and development, said that the competition would “also provide our international players with the competitive game-time that they need before heading to the Euros in July.”
The first fixtures for teams in FA WSL 2 took place in February. Those clubs will be entering round seven of the competition this weekend. Aston Villa face the London Bees on Saturday, while Sunday sees four more matches take place: Durham vs. Brighton and Hove Albion; Millwall Lionesses vs. Oxford United; Watford vs. Sheffield FC; and Doncaster Rovers Belles vs. Everton.
The first round of FA WSL 1 matches also takes place this weekend. Bristol City will be taking on Reading on Saturday. Four further ties are scheduled for Sunday: Arsenal vs. Nottingham County; Manchester City vs. Chelsea; Birmingham City vs. Sunderland; and Yeovil Town vs. Liverpool.
The FA WSL 2 competition will run until 21 May, while the FA WSL 1 competition concludes on 3 June.
The FA Women’s Super League – The History of the WSL
The Women’s Super League was established by the FA in 2011. A summer league competition, it initially featured eight teams: Arsenal, Everton, Chelsea Ladies, Liverpool, Lincoln Ladies, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Bristol Academy Ladies and Birmingham City.
The inaugural competition was won by Arsenal, with Birmingham City finishing in second place. Both teams secured themselves places in the 2012-13 UEFA Women’s Champions League as a result.
In 2014, the FA added a second division to the competition, relegating one club from the original league and adding nine more teams. An extra place was added to WSL 1 in 2016 and another place will be added to the same division this year.
Where Can You Watch This Unique Sporting Event?
Earlier this month, the BBC announced that it would be broadcasting live coverage of some of the competition’s matches, including Saturday’s clash between Yeovil Town and Liverpool, on its website. Highlights from the league’s matches will also be shown on BBC Two’s “The Women’s Football Show”.
Are you a fan of women’s football? Which teams do you think will win the Spring Series trophies? Tell us in the comments section, on Facebook or on Twitter.