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Details have been announced for the club licence application for future seasons of the FA Women's Super League (FA WSL).
Applications will only be open to current FA WSL clubs - with 20 licences available (10 for each division).
The alignment of the FA WSL season with the rest of the women's football pyramid will mean that relegation from FA WSL 2 into the FA Women's Premier League (FA WPL) will be introduced from the 2017-18 season.
The promotion position for the FA Women's Premier League (FA WPL) play-off winners will be continued.
The licences will begin for the 2018-19 season and, for the first time, will not be fixed-term. Clubs will need to continue to meet licence criteria on an annual basis.
Should a place in the FA WSL become available outside of promotion and relegation, it will be made available through an open application process.
The changes have been made following consultation with clubs and are designed to maintain the quality of the league and support the development of the clubs who have invested in women's football and the league since the FA WSL was launched in 2010.
Following consultation with clubs, the new licences will see current club development grants replaced by partnership funding agreements. These bespoke agreements will ensure funding is directed to both support the unique need of each individual club's development along with the league as a whole.
FA WSL 1 clubs will have access to up to £92,500, increased from the current £70,000 allocation, while FA WSL 2 clubs will have access to up to £62,500, increased from £35,000.
As part of the new licence criteria, all FA WSL 1 clubs will be required to employ a full-time strength and conditioning coach, while FA WSL 2 clubs must implement daily strength and conditioning programmes for players.
FA head of women's football Baroness Sue Campbell said: "After consulting with clubs and stakeholders, it has been agreed that these changes are essential to continue to grow and develop the domestic women's game.
"The FA WSL clubs have made great strides in the past six years and have demonstrated a massive commitment to the women's game. It is crucial that we build on these foundations and work together to strengthen the standard of the league, which is why we have elected to firstly open the applications to the current FA WSL clubs.
"The clubs have worked tirelessly since the FA WSL was launched to establish themselves, develop players and coaches and build their fan bases and its right that we reward that level of time and investment.
"However, we know that there is a lot of excellent work taking place across the FA WPL and clubs at all levels and we will help those clubs, to be ready on and off the pitch should they win promotion. We believe that introducing relegation from the FA WSL to FA WPL will further increase the competitiveness and quality of the league."
The deadline for applications is 31 March 2017. The applications will then be reviewed and approved by The FA Women's Football Board at their meeting in mid-May 2017.
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