12.12.2023

Barclays Women’s Super League Explained: How Does the Barclays WSL Work?

The Barclays Women’s Super League is the top tier of domestic women’s football in England.

The competition had its inaugural season in 2011, replacing the FA Women’s Premier League National Division.

Since then, four teams have lifted the trophy, with reigning champions Chelsea the most successful Barclays WSL side.

How many teams are in the Barclays WSL? 

There are 12 teams in the Barclays Women’s Super League, which has expanded from eight teams in the inaugural season.

Crystal Palace are the most recent Barclays WSL debutant, following promotion in the 2023-24 season, while Arsenal and Chelsea are the only two sides to have featured in every WSL season.

What are the rules of the Barclays WSL? 

A team earns three points for a win, one point for a draw and none for a loss, with the winners of the league decided by the team with the most points.

At the end of the season, if teams are tied on points, the league order will be decided first by goal difference.

If that is tied, they will be decided by most goals scored, then by most matches won, then by head-to-head league records.

If they are still tied there will be a play-off match(es).

To compete in the Barclays WSL, teams must have a Tier 1 license. To obtain that license, teams must fulfil various criteria including operating an academy, playing on a grass pitch and having a maximum squad of 25 players, of whom at least eight are homegrown.

How many teams get relegated from the Barclays WSL? 

At the end of the season, one team gets relegated to the second tier of English women’s football, the Barclays Women’s Championship.

The relegated team is the club that finishes bottom of the table with the fewest points.

The team that finishes top of the Barclays Women’s Championship at the end of the season is promoted to the Barclays Women’s Super League.

How many games in the Barclays WSL per team? 

Each team plays the 11 other Barclays Women’s Super League teams twice in the season, once at home and once away.

That means each team plays 22 matches, with 11 home games and 11 away games.

How many games in the Barclays WSL season? 

There are 132 games in each WSL season, with all 12 teams playing 22 games.

How many Barclays WSL teams qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League? 

Three teams qualify for the UEFA Women’s Champions League each season.

The champions of the Barclays WSL are the only team to qualify directly into the group stage.

The second-place team must come through Round 2 of qualifying. They are drawn into a two-legged play-off, with the winner on aggregate progressing to the group stage.

The third-place Barclays WSL team enters the UEFA Women’s Champions League at the Round 1 stage of qualifying. They are drawn into a pool of four teams, playing a semi-final and, if they win that game, the final. The winner of the final moves on to Round 2 of qualifying.

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