The 2018/19 edition of the blossoming and now fully professional FA Women's Super League is due to kick off this weekend as 10 of the 11 clubs play their opening game of the season.


Background Info


Established in 2010 with an inaugural season in 2011, the Women's Super League has been carefully nurtured over the last eight years as a replacement for the Women's Premier League.


Only eight clubs were initially accepted despite as many as 16 applying for a place and it wasn't until 2014 that a 10-team second tier - now the Women's Championship - was created.

Chelsea Ladies FC v Sunderland AFC Ladies  - WSL

The success of the national team at the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada served to boost interest and popularity, while the FA later announced that after 2017 the WSL would move away from a summer calendar to a more traditional autumn/winter/spring football calendar.


The winners and runners-up in 2018/19 will qualify for next season's UEFA Women's Champions League, which is dominated by French and German clubs, while the competition also runs alongside the Continental Cup (league cup) and Women's FA Cup domestically.


What's New This Season?


When it first started, the WSL was made up of semi-professional sides. As of now, all 11 clubs competing in 2018/19 are full-time professional outfits that met more stringent entry criteria than before to take their place in the restructured top flight.

That entry criteria included things such as a minimum level of financial investment from each club, a compulsory academy team and at least 16 hours of 'contact time' for players each week.


A place in the WSL this season was more about having the right infrastructure and finances in place to meet the entry criteria than on-field achievement. For example, seventh place Sunderland were demoted to the second tier after failing to meet the standards, while West Ham and Brighton were bumped up.


2018/19 Opening Fixtures


Sunday 9th September, 2pm kick-off unless stated


Arsenal Women vs Liverpool Women, 12.30pm

Birmingham City Women vs Everton Ladies

Brighton & Hove Albion Women vs Bristol City Women

Chelsea Women vs Manchester City Women

Reading Women vs Yeovil Town Ladies


How Can I Watch?

BBC will be showing live coverage of select games on the BBC Sport website, starting with the opening fixture between Arsenal and Liverpool, and BBC Red Button throughout the season and is again airing its informative Women's Football Show on a weekly basis.


Live games will additionally be shown on BT Sport throughout the season, with coverage of the huge Chelsea and Manchester City clash this Sunday starting from 1.30pm on BT Sport 3.


Other live games will be available to stream for free on the FA Women's Super League Facebook page, which will also be posting highlights all season.


For those wishing to watch games in person, WSL match tickets are far more affordable than the men's equivalent, with single game tickets typically available for £5 or £6. Season tickets offer greater value if you're interested in going regularly, with Manchester City selling theirs from £60.


Title Favourites


While Arsenal were formerly the dominant force in the earlier Women's Premier League era, Chelsea and Manchester City have traded titles in the last few seasons and those two will once again be expected to be fighting for supremacy this time around.


Players to Watch


Leah Williamson

Arsenal through and through, midfielder Leah Williamson joined the Gunners aged nine, made her debut in 2014 at 17 and is vastly experienced despite still only being 21 years of age.


Williamson was first called into a competitive senior England squad in late 2017 and made her debut this summer. A good season for Arsenal could mean a place at the 2019 World Cup.


Fran Kirby

Fran Kirby is the reigning PFA and FWA Women's Player of the Year after a clean sweep of both prestigious individual awards after a fine 2017/18 season.


The diminutive forward burst onto the scene with England at the last World Cup and has been starring for Chelsea ever since, boasting an excellent goal record throughout her career.


Janine Beckie

Manchester City have lost England pair Izzy Christiansen and Lucy Bronze to French giants Lyon since 2017 but have added Canadian international Janine Beckie to the squad this season.


The forward has previously played for U.S. clubs Houston Dash and Sky Blue where she was a teammate of two-time FIFA World Player of the Year and ex-City player Carli Lloyd.


Jane Ross

West Ham are new to this level of women's football but have added several experienced and talented players to their ranks since gaining their WSL place.


That includes prolific Scottish striker Jane Ross, who spent the last three years with Manchester City and could help the Hammers become something of a dark horse this season.


Any Other Business?

Manchester United Women v Reading - FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup

Manchester United's new team, which was only launched in May, will begin life in the second tier Women's Championship but are expected to earn immediate promotion to the WSL as they have been set up as a fully professional team from the very beginning.


With former England captain Casey Stoney as manager and a selection of star players including skipper Alex Greenwood (pictured), United will be the focus of much attention over the coming months and have already beaten top flight Liverpool in the Continental Cup.