History of the Barclays Women’s Super League

Since its launch in 2011, the Barclays Women’s Super League has grown into one of the world’s strongest domestic competitions.

Here is everything you need to know about the Barclays WSL history…

2009-2012: The beginning of the BWSL

Established in 2010, the Women’s Super League replaced the FA Women’s Premier League National Division as the highest level of women’s football in England.

The entry deadline set for clubs to enter was set for December 2009. Sixteen clubs applied with an initial eight successful.

Fifteen months later, on 13 April 2011, Gilly Flaherty’s goal handed Arsenal a 1-0 win over Chelsea in the WSL’s opening game in front of a crowd of 2,510.

Arsenal went on to clinch the first-ever WSL title and added a second in 2012.

2013-2018: Two-tier and winter changes

A second division was introduced in 2014, which saw a further 10 teams compete in a now two-tier league with promotion and relegation introduced.

Liverpool had clinched back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014 while Chelsea won the first of their six crowns the following year.

In July 2016, The FA announced the WSL was to move from a summer to a winter league to align with the traditional English football calendar.

To allow the change to take place, a shortened FA WSL Spring Series took place between February and May 2017, won by Chelsea.

2018-present: The BWSL as we know it.

The 2017/18 season was the last of the two-tier era. In September 2018, the WSL became a full-time professional league and was restructured to a one-tier, 11-team competition, with Brighton and West Ham United joining the top flight and the second tier becoming the FA Women’s Championship.

In March 2019, Barclays were officially announced as the title sponsors of the Barclays WSL, marking the biggest ever investment in UK women’s sport by a brand.

That same season saw a 12th team added to the league with Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur both gaining promotion from the Championship.

With it came the first-ever Barclays WSL North London Derby, which saw 38,262 people watch the Gunners win 2-0 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The 2019/2020 season was cut short in early May due to the Covid pandemic, with Chelsea crowned champions on a points-per-game average.

Since the league turned 10 years old in April 2021, the emergence of Sky Sports and BBC broadcast deals and ever-increasing attendances – combined with the success of the Lionesses on the international stage – has seen the Barclays WSL continue to grow.

Chelsea won their fourth consecutive title in the 2022/23 season while the opening day of the following campaign saw a record crowd of 54,115 watch Arsenal lose 1-0 to Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium.

Barclays WSL winners:

2011 – Arsenal

2012 – Arsenal

2013 – Liverpool

2014 – Liverpool

2015 – Chelsea

2016 – Manchester City

2017 (FA WSL Spring Series) – Chelsea

2017/18 – Chelsea

2018/19 – Arsenal

2019/20 – Chelsea

2020/21 – Chelsea

2021/22 – Chelsea

2022/23 – Chelsea

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