The new Barclays Women’s Championship season kicks off this weekend with the stakes higher than ever.
A landmark season for the league brings a new twist, with an additional relegation spot meaning the bottom two will both face the drop come the end of the season.
All 12 clubs across the league have been busy gearing up with new signings, full-time training and pre-season trips across the country.
Here is your guide to all the sides bidding to earn promotion to the Barclays Women’s Super League…
Birmingham City came within a whisker of securing a return to the BWSL last season, finishing just a point short of promoted Bristol City.
Blues boss Darren Carter will hope his side can go one better this time around, with reigning Championship Player of the Season Jade Pennock – who netted 11 times last term – remaining a key part of the squad.
Pre-season preparations complete! 👊
— Birmingham City Women (@BCFCWomen) August 21, 2023
Blackburn will have to adjust to life without club captain and legend Saffron Jordan, who scored 130 goals in 219 Rovers appearances.
Simon Parker is set for his first full season at the helm and he has snapped up several of last season’s Manchester United loanees, including influential defender Niamh Murphy, on permanent deals.
A trip to The Oakwood in Crayford is always difficult for any travelling side and last season Charlton Athletic lost just three times on their own turf.
Their prospects have been boosted by a new one-year deal for Melissa Johnson, who shared last season’s Championship golden boot and is now looking to build on her 12-goal tally and help the Addicks improve on a fourth-place finish.
— Barclays Women’s Championship (@BarclaysWC) August 25, 2023
The Eagles will be hoping for a more consistent campaign as they look to better a fifth-placed spot last term.
Laura Kaminski will be hoping for another productive year from striker Annabel Blanchard while Lia Cataldo is a new addition, fresh from earning promotion with Bristol City.
Durham finished second in 2020/21 but suffered their worst league finish since 2015 in coming seventh last season.
The Wildcats have focused on bolstering their attacking options over the summer following Rio Hardy’s departure, with Amy Andrews and Eleanor Ryan-Doyle tasked with following in her footsteps.
Here’s the numbers our new faces will be wearing this season! 🤩 pic.twitter.com/PRkjQ8927B
— Durham Women FC (@DurhamWFC) August 25, 2023
Lewes have lost last season’s top goalscorer Ellie Mason to Birmingham but they have kept hold of goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse, who was part of Ireland’s squad at the World Cup.
The Rooks, whose reward for a memorable run to the FA Cup quarter-finals last term was a home tie with Manchester United, have added Maltese international Maria Farrugia and Northern Ireland’s Caragh Hamilton to their ranks over the summer.
London City Lionesses
Finishes of second and third in their last two seasons will give the Lionesses confidence they are now ready to take the next step.
It is new manager and Carolina Morace’s job to get them there, with the Italian legend – who earned 153 caps for her country in her playing days – boosted by the contract extension of former Arsenal defender Grace Neville.
Sunderland (A).F.C. to start the season! 🦁
Are you ready? pic.twitter.com/JyV1fs4Cp7
— London City Lionesses (@LC_Lionesses) August 24, 2023
The Royals are looking to bounce straight back after seeing their eight-year spell in the BWSL come to an end on the final day of last season.
They have since moved to a part-time model while new manager Liam Gilbert’s summer additions include the returning Charlie Estcourt and midfielder Ava Kuyken.
— Reading FC Women (@ReadingFCWomen) August 21, 2023
Jonathan Morgan’s Blades will be hoping to pick up where they left off, four straight wins at the end of last season carrying them from relegation trouble to eighth.
Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Mia Enderby are significant losses but New Zealand ace Olivia Page and former Manchester United starlet Tara Bourne bring an injection of youth ahead of the campaign.
Southampton finished sixth last time out and will hope new young talent, combined with an experienced Championship striker, can put them in the promotion picture.
Atlanta Primus has joined from London City Lionesses as one of eight new additions, with the striker to provide valuable assistance to Katie Wilkinson, who netted seven times in 2022/23.
— Southampton FC Women (@SaintsFCWomen) August 6, 2023
Sunderland ended up in 11th last season after finishing their campaign with four straight defeats.
They will hope for an upturn in fortunes and 19-year-old Mary McAteer, who notched a double in the pre-season derby win over Newcastle, looks an exciting addition while Natasha Fenton and Jenna Dear add proven quality to the midfield.
Newly-promoted Watford, back at this level after just one season away, have made some shrewd signings to strengthen their chances of staying up.
Among them are last season’s Women’s National League Southern Division top scorer Carly Johns, who arrives from Oxford, and Michelle Agyemang, who scored four times for England in May’s Under-17 European Championships and is on dual registration with Arsenal.
— Barclays Women’s Championship (@BarclaysWC) August 17, 2023
For more information ahead of the big kick-off, check out our first ever Barclays WC Season Guide!
The guide includes:
- Dedicated page on each of our 12 clubs
- Squad lists and player pronunciations
- Stats and facts about the league