Women's Super League: What you need to know ahead of 'crucial' season

Tom Homewood
Assistant Producer

Women’s football is set for a major boost following a record-breaking World Cup.

In the first season following the tournament, attendances are set to rocket in the Women’s Super League with a series of sold out matches already.

And with the welcome arrival of Tottenham and Manchester United to the top flight, in addition to a series of matches being played at Premier League and Championship grounds, it ought to be a real opportunity to build on the momentum gained this summer in France.

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‘You could end up falling in love with it’

More than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, while Tottenham face London rivals Chelsea at Stamford Bridge expecting a near-capacity crowd.

Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright has warned about the opportunity England now has to build upon the momentum in women’s football.

Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright at the World Cup (Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

"It's a crucial time,” Bright said. “If we step back now and don't push on, we'll lose that window to really push forward in the women's game and get the attraction.

"Off the back of the World Cup, now is the time to keep people invested in the game - not just at national level, but at club level - and keep people coming and watching.

"It's about getting people to come to the games, actually experience it, see how good the football is and see that it is a different game to the men's.

"You could end up falling in love with the women's game."

United celebrate after they won Women's Super League 2 (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

What is new?

With an investment of more than £10 million agreed back in March, the 2019/20 season is also the first to be sponsored by Barclays.

That landmark sponsorship deal will see a renaming of the league to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.

It will also see record amounts of money injected into the women’s game, which has often been treated as a side project.

All involved will be optimistic that England’s run to the World Cup semi-finals will inspire the next generation further while encouraging fans of men’s football to get involved.

Where do we stand with the WSL?

Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea were first, second and third respectively last season in an 11-team division.

This season 12 teams will battle it out to lift the trophy making it the largest campaign in the WSL era, which began back in 2011.

United, who are competing in only their second season, and Tottenham are the promoted teams, while Yeovil were relegated last season.

Nine clubs are affiliated with a men’s Premier League team, with Birmingham, Bristol City and Reading linked to Championship sides.

Who are the favourites?

Arsenal are favourites to defend their WSL title this season, but it will be a closely fought battle with Manchester City and Chelsea.

City have lost some experience in senior players but signed England striker Ellen White and have some exciting young talent coming through.

Chelsea didn’t win many in their pre-season, however they have signed a few players in a bid to bolster their squad along with Fran Kirby and Erin Cuthbert.

Manchester United could be the surprise package, but Birmingham too will nipping at the heels of the top three of last season.

Ellen White was awarded the bronze boot at the Women's World Cup (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Who do England’s stars play for?

Ellen White, the Lionesses’ prolific striker, will play for Manchester City next season - but has been ruled out of the start with a knee injury. She will feature alongside captain Steph Houghton and Georgia Stanway.

Alex Greenwood joined Nikita Parris in signing for Lyon, where they will link up with Lucy Bronze and a host of world stars including Eugenie Le Sommer and Ada Hegerberg.

Leah Williamson will feature for Arsenal this season, as will Beth Mead, while Toni Duggan swapped Barcelona for Atletico Madrid.

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