Chelsea and Man City pitted against each other in one-off league
THE Women’s Super League Spring Series will start with a bang after title-rivals Manchester City and Chelsea were drawn together yesterday.
The last two WSL champs kick off the one-off competition which has been created to bridge the gap between seasons, with the league transitioning from a summer league to a more traditional football calendar.
Each team will play each other once as they compete for their division’s trophy, before England travel to Holland to take part in Euro 2017.
Other exciting ties for the reigning champions see Nick Cushing’s side host Arsenal in May before finishing the campaign away to Liverpool.
The current FA Cup holders face difficult trips to Chelsea and Man City while hosting mouth watering ties against Liverpool and Birmingham.
Newly promoted Bristol City start the summer campaign at home to Reading while Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City will all travel to Ashton Gate.
“Now that the fixtures are released, it becomes very real and exciting,” said Bristol City head coach Willie Kirk.
“The big clubs we will come up against are the challenges that we want to face every week, and the reason that we worked so hard last year to get back to WSL1.
“The first game at Ashton Gate will add that little bit more prestige to the game and the girls are really looking forward to playing in front of, hopefully, a very large and enthusiastic Bristol crowd.
“The girls are a bubbly bunch anyway, but as soon as you start talking about facing the likes of Man City or Chelsea, or playing against Kim Little or Fara Williams you can feel the excitement building throughout the squad.”
The fixtures release comes a month after the announcement of increased funding and licence application details, starting from the 2018-19 season.
From that season, licences will not be fixedterm, with clubs needing to continue to meet the criteria on an annual basis.
The new licences will see current club development grants replaced by partnership funding agreements, all WSL 1 clubs will be required to employ a full-time strength and conditioning coach, while WSL 2 clubs must implement daily strength and conditioning programmes for players.
WSL 1 clubs will have access to up to £92,500, increased from the current £70,000 allocation, while WSL 2 clubs will have access to up to £62,500, increased from £35,000.
FA head of women’s football Sue Campbell said at the time: “After consulting with clubs and stakeholders, it has been agreed that these changes are essential to continue to grow and develop the domestic women’s game.
“The WSL clubs have made great strides in the past six years and have demonstrated a massive commitment to the women’s game. It is crucial that we build on these foundations and work together to strengthen the standard of the league, which is why we have elected to firstly open the applications to the current WSL clubs.
“The clubs have worked tirelessly since the WSL was launched to establish themselves, develop players and coaches and build their fan bases and it’s right that we reward that level of time and investment.
“However, we know that there is a lot of excellent work taking place across the WPL and clubs at all levels and we will help those clubs to be ready on and off the pitch should they win promotion.
“We believe that introducing relegation from the WSL to WPL will further increase the competitiveness and quality of the league.”
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