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WSL and Championship to remain in existing formats for 2024-25

The Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will remain in their existing format for next season.

Nikki Doucet — the chief executive of NewCo, the company set up to run professional women’s football in England — confirmed the news, adding that the Continental Cup will run again in the 2024-25 season.

A possible enlargement of the WSL, which has expanded three times since its inception in 2011, has been the subject of public discourse in recent years.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes called for the league to be expanded to “16 or 18” teams in October but Doucet refused to be drawn on NewCo’s plans.

“I think that’s something we’ll look at,” she added, “and I wouldn’t comment on that today.”

The football calendar and lack of rest time it affords has been a point of discussion amid the extensive list of long-term injuries in the women’s game, with England captain Leah Williamson recently calling it “unsustainable”.

Doucet noted players’ concerns when discussing any potential expanded schedule.

“The players are definitely saying we’re at capacity,” she added. “That’s a question for the future. Right now we need to focus on the foundation and what’s working. Not just what’s working but how to make that better. If we set up the right decision-making processes and what that looks like, it then makes sense to all stakeholders and all parties.”

Hayes, a contributor to Karen Carney’s review into the future of domestic women’s football, has also spoken about how the English game should remain “open” to the possibility of a closed league.

“I’ve worked in (a franchise league) in the United States,” Hayes said last year. “I like the idea of relegation and promotion from a traditional perspective but it doesn’t mean we should be hamstrung by it.

“We should be open about it. I’ve seen the successes of promoting franchise-type leagues and the consistency that can be placed in running it.

“The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is a great example. We should be open to everything. Everything shouldn’t always be compared to something that is either traditional or just because of the men’s game. We should have an openness about reflecting on the pluses and minuses.”

But Doucet appeared to shut the door on NewCo implementing a closed league like the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the U.S.

“We’re (for) promotion and relegation,” Doucet said.

“100 per cent (we support the protection of the pyramid). That’s part of the proposal of NewCo and what all 24 clubs signed up for, so it’s not a closed league.”

Doucet was appointed NewCo chief executive in November and the plan is for the independent company to take over the running of the WSL and Championship from the FA for the start of next season. That is despite a split between WSL and Championship sides on NewCo’s proposals in November, which was then resolved later that month.

(Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

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