The FA announced on Tuesday afternoon that the FA Women’s Super League would become a winter league for the first time, starting in 2017.
Originally a winter league before the introduction of the FA WSL in 2011, the league has followed a summer schedule ever since despite the FA Women’s Premier League and the SSE Women’s FA Cup following the men’s structure and running through the winter months.
But from 2017, both FA WSL 1 and 2 will begin in September and end the following May, culminating in the season’s showpiece event when the FA Cup final takes place at Wembley Stadium.
The FA also announced that a Spring Series will take place between February and May next year in order to fill the gap left by the schedule change and aid the fitness and development of England internationals ahead of Euro 2017 in July.
Among other changes announced sees relegation from FA WSL 2 back to the FA WPL begin in 2017 whilst the Continental Tyres Cup will also move to winter, although the final schedule has yet to be announced.
Speaking at an event at Wembley Stadium to announce the changes, England Head Coach Mark Sampson said it was time to make “bold and courageous calls to take the game forward.”
Sampson admitted there was a ‘fear’ over how it would affect England’s Euro 2017 preparations but believes the changes are the best thing for the national team in the long run.
“The objective is to make sure we do as well as we can and do our best to win a major tournament,” he said.
“We will end up with better players for England, it gives us more of a chance to have a competitive and match tough England team.”
Sampson also suggested it would be good for the development of football in England for the nation to host a major tournament in the near future, ear-marking Euro 2021 as a potential target.
FA Development Director Kelly Simmons echoed Sampson’s thoughts although she doesn’t foresee the World Cup coming to England soon with the 2019 tournament being held in Europe.
“It would be fantastic to hold a major international tournament and that is one of our aims,” she said.
Expanding on her thoughts regarding the major changes to the schedule, Simmons added: “If we get a strong FA WSL and a strong England I think everyone wins – the game wins.”
The changes will also see the FA WSL run alongside the UEFA Champions League from 2017, enhancing the chances of English sides succeeding in Europe over the next few years.