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FA formally ends 2019-20 WSL and FAWC seasons

This isn’t a surprise, but it is now official.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays FA Women’s Super League Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

The Football Association announced on Monday that it has formally and officially ended the 2019-20 Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship seasons. The decision was made in an official statement made on the FA’s website.

The FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has today confirmed the decision to end the 2019-20 season for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship, with immediate effect.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has been in regular consultation with clubs and key stakeholders from across both leagues to identify the most suitable and appropriate way to conclude the 2019-20 season, and to give clubs and players the clarity and support they need at this time.

Following overwhelming feedback from the clubs, the decision to bring an end to the 2019-20 season was made in the best interest of the women’s game. This will also enable clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board and the FA to plan, prepare and focus on next season when football returns for the 2020-21 campaign.

This isn’t even close to a surprise. In fact, the possibility of the season ending was strongly suggested in news reports last week. Women’s clubs operate on an exponentially smaller budget than the men’s teams do, with some clubs on a shoestring budget, significantly more reliant on match-day revenue. Even if matches were to continue, they would have to take place behind closed doors, meaning that income would be forfeit. Financially, there isn’t much of a case to continue if doing so would potentially mean that clubs could end up folding (and indeed, some might fold anyway).

The statement went on to say that the next step is to figure out the best way to determine final league position and Champions League qualification spots.

Following full and thorough consultation with the clubs, the FA Women’s Super League & Women’s Championship Board has discussed various recommendations which will be sent to the FA Board to determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019-20 season.

This will include identifying the entries for the 2020-21 UEFA Women’s Champions League, which would be based on sporting merit from the 2019-20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season.

We are not in a position to comment further until the FA Board has had sufficient time to consider all of the recommendations and options.

Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City are all within a few points of each other at the top of the table, but only two would qualify for Europe next season. According to the Guardian, “various recommendations” are wide-ranging and everything is on the table, from calculating final positions on a points per game basis, to voiding the season entirely, with only Champions League positions determined by “sporting merit.”

Promotion and relegation is the other major issue yet to be decided. Currently, Liverpool is bottom and would be relegated, with Aston Villa promoting to the WSL. But while Villa are six points clear at the top of the FAWC, Liverpool are only a point behind Birmingham and three behind Bristol City, though Birmingham have a game in hand. Waiving pro-rel this season would be extremely harsh in Villa, who would have the opportunity to make the jump and transition to a fully professional football club the way Tottenham Hotspur did this past season.

For Spurs, they end a highly successful debut season in the top flight. If the current table position holds, they end the season in sixth, one point behind Reading. A top half finish would represent a wonderful result for a club that just a few years ago was playing in the fourth division of women’s football.