The FA has announced that they have had 15 applications from women’s football clubs to join the new format of the top two tiers for next season, despite there only being nine spots available.
There is space for up to four teams to join the Women’s Super League, while five vacancies are up for grabs in the newly named FA Women’s Championship.
The deadline for any club who have an affiliated women’s or girls’ team to submit their bid passed on Friday, 9 March. The FA will not reveal any further information on the clubs who have secured a place until the end of May.
West Ham United have applied for a place in the WSL, where they will have to meet a new set of professional criteria to join the top tier, which includes running a youth academy.
Sunderland decided initially not to apply to renew their WSL status, but they have since expressed their desire to remain in the top flight during the second application phase.
The following teams have already secured their place in the top flight for the 18/19 season: Arsenal, Birmingham City, Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol City, Chelsea Ladies, Everton Ladies, Liverpool Ladies, Manchester City, Reading Women and Yeovil Town.
There is a maximum number of 14 places available for the WSL next season, however, the eventual number may be less than that.
The Women’s Championship, which will now be exclusively for part-time clubs, is believed to have been heavily oversubscribed with applicants, following a number of bids from lower-league outfits.
Although the list of applicants has not been officially released, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United have both recently confirmed that they have made bids to join the new Women’s Championship, alongside Charlton Athletic, Coventry United and Derby County.
This morning, Lewes Women FC, who currently play in the FA Women’s Premier League South, became the latest club to reveal that they have applied to join the second tier.
Elsewhere, in a similar situation to Sunderland, Oxford United, of the second tier, also did not apply initially for a place in the Women’s Championship, but later stated that their intention was to apply for a spot in the division.
The teams to have already had their places in the Women’s Championship confirmed for next season are: Aston Villa, Doncaster Rovers Belles, Durham, London Bees, Millwall Lionesses, Sheffield FC Ladies and Tottenham Hotspur.
There will be at least one place reserved in the Women’s Championship for the winner of the regionally split third tier play-off on Sunday, 27 May.
Charlton Athletic currently sit top of the third tier’s Southern league, while Middlesbrough are top of the Northern region.
The winner of the play-off will first have to apply for their place and ensure that they meet the respective licensing criteria for the second tier, hence why the names of the clubs who have earned spots in the top two divisions will not be confirmed until after 27 May.
The applications for all the teams that have applied will now be assessed by an expert panel and the FA’s Women’s Board.