How about some happier news on a Monday? Tottenham Hotspur Ladies are enjoying their first season in the FA Women’s Super League 2 this season after promoting from the FA Women’s Premier League last year, and they will be staying there for at least another season.
The club announced a few days ago that they have successfully applied and been granted a conditional “Tier 2” license that will allow them to remain in the restructured WSL during the 2018-19 season. Spurs Ladies General Manager June Clarke said the following in a club statement:
“The response from fans this season has been amazing and the main Club have been so supportive in our journey to grow as a Ladies Football Club. We see next season in Tier 2 as a great opportunity for the Club to continue its journey with the ultimate goal to progress Tottenham Hotspur Ladies into the top tier of the women’s game.”
Earlier this season, the WSL announced that it was temporarily suspending promotion and relegation to and from the top two leagues in the English women’s football pyramid while they restructured the leagues. In an attempt to try and boost the development of women’s soccer in England, the WSL 1 will now only accept clubs that are full-time, professional organizations and have a license from the league that confirms it. Clubs were encouraged to apply for either a “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” license for participation in the top two leagues.
Requirements for a Tier 1 license include 16-20 hours of “contact hours” with players per week, financial investment into the clubs, adherence to Financial Fair Play regulations, and the ability to run and maintain an academy.
Spurs Ladies, which as of a couple of years ago were essentially an amateur side, applied for -- and received — a Tier 2 license, which has slightly less restrictive requirements. Those requirements include minimum player contact hours of at least 8 per week and a reserve team (no academy required). Part time players are also allowed in the WSL 2, which could be rebranded with a new name.
Teams were encouraged to apply to the WSL for either a Tier 1 or 2 license, which would then confirm their status in the WSL 1 and 2 for the 2018-19 season. The WSL plans to reinstate promotion and relegation after next season within the WSL and between the WSL and FAWPL after next season, but any new clubs that promote to the WSL will need to meet the leagues’ licensing requirements.
The idea behind the restructuring is to create coherent leagues that contain teams that are all competitive, and avoid leagues that have both full-time, established clubs like Arsenal, Manchester City, and Chelsea as well as semi-pro sides. The goal is to create a baseline that will kick-start women’s soccer in England, a rising tide that lifts all boats.
What this means for Spurs is that they will be a member of WSL 2 next season regardless of how they finish in the table this year. It also reflects the increased investment into Spurs Ladies by Tottenham Hotspur, and confirms their status as a semi-professional club.
Spurs Ladies manager Karen Hills said that the club has ambitions beyond just securing a place in the second division. Spurs’ eventual goal is to improve the club to the point where they can achieve a full-time professional status and ascend to WSL 1, where they will regularly play some of the best women’s football teams in Europe.
"I feel that we are in a fantastic position with our Club and that we are moving in the right direction on and off the pitch. We are working hard to develop our players throughout our teams so that when the time is right we will be able to compete in the top league with home grown players that we have developed."
Spurs Ladies currently have seven points from five matches in their debut season in the WSL 2, putting them solidly mid-table in sixth place. Their next match is a home league match against Brighton & Hove Albion (who were approved for and received a Tier 1 license for 2018-19) on January 7, 2018.