FA hopes Women’s Super League will turn professional
The FA hopes launch of new Women's Super League will help the game turn professional in the future
The FA hopes the new Women’s Super League set to launch this week will eventually turn professional.
Arsenal take on Chelsea in the competition’s inaugural match on Wednesday, and FA general secretary Alex Horne believes the launch of the new eight-team league will pave the way for a professional top flight.
“Hopefully, if we set this up right and we expand the right way, the game will become professional,” he said.
Arsenal, Birmingham, Bristol, Chelsea, Doncaster, Everton, Liverpool, and Lincoln will play each other twice as they compete for the inaugural title.
Chelseal’s clash with Arsenal will be televised live on ESPN after the broadcaster signed up to screen six live games this season and 10 next year.
FA chairman David Bernstein said: “This is a true landmark in the women’s game, a real opportunity for it to take off in England.
“The launch of this league together with England competing in the World Cup in Germany makes for an exciting summer of women’s football ahead.”
The new semi-professional league, which replaces the old Women’s Premier League, is expected to attract more lucrative sponsorship and in turn result in better salaries for the players who opt to stay in England rather than move to more established clubs in Europe or America.
Most women’s teams in England, including those of Premier League clubs, play at non-league grounds.
Bristol Academy are the only team to have their own ground after building a 1,500-capacity stadium at Filton College in 2010, while Doncaster Belles are the only club to share their home ground, the Keepmoat Stadium, with their male counterparts.
Arsenal, who have dominated the Women’s Premier League and regularly compete in Europe, play their home games at Boreham Wood FC’s 4,500-capacity Meadow Park.
Kelly Simmons, FA head of national game, believes the birth of the new league will encourage more young girls to take up the sport.
“Football is the most popular team sport for girls to play and we have over a million regular players throughout the country,” she said.
“What has been missing in the sport until now was a clear pathway of progression for young girls who are good enough to play professionally and earn a living doing so.
“We believe the league will encourage many more young girls to get into and stay in football where they can see an elite structure at the very top of the game and the role models to inspire them.”
England and Arsenal captain Faye White is equally excited about the new league. She said: “I really can’t wait for the new league to launch, it seems like we’ve been talking about it for some time and now it’s really upon us.
“This is a huge moment for women’s football here and all the players are excited for what lies ahead. This will really push the game on and hopefully inspire the next generation of players to follow in our footsteps.
“I’ve seen the game develop so much since I first started playing, we’ve made huge strides in putting things in place to ensure the game thrives and this new league will really help us push that forward and take the game to the next level, it’s a massive moment for everyone involved in woman’s football.”