Doncaster Rovers Belles miss out on place in FAWLS1 to Everton following FA application process

Belles skipper Leandra Little. Photo: The FA/Getty Images
Belles skipper Leandra Little. Photo: The FA/Getty Images

Doncaster Rovers Belles have missed out on a place in FAWSL1 after the Football Association selected Everton to replace defunct Notts County Ladies.

Belles were relegated from last year’s FAWSL1 but their bid to remain in the top flight has failed following an application process based on criteria including finance and business management, facilities and on pitch performance.

Everton won the recent FAWSL2 Spring Series, a competition which had no promotion or relegation attached to it.

Belles have seven days to appeal against the decision.

A statement from Belles said: “Today, we have been informed by the FA that our application to take the available place in FA WSL1, following the withdrawal of Notts County Ladies FC, has been unsuccessful.

“We put forward a strong application supported by new sponsors and Club Doncaster and are naturally disappointed not to have been promoted by way of application, but will now concentrate of winning promotion through the league, as we have done in the past.

“We now have 7 days to consider whether we appeal and understand that we will be receiving a letter of explanation some time later today, whereupon the club’s legal team will review the same and recommend a course of action.

“We would like to offer our congratulations to Everton Ladies FC, who showed in the Spring Series that they are ready for WSL1.”

Belles were controversially demoted from the top division by the FA in 2013, with Manchester City taking their place.

In a statement released in May, Belles expressed their disappointment that their recent FAWSL1 status was not enough to guarantee an instant return to the top flight.

“The current WSL1 Licence provides that the FA have absolute discretion in matters where a team withdraws from the WSL, meaning they can take such action as they wish and are not obliged to follow any particular course,” said Belles chairlady Faye Lygo.

“We were disappointed that the FA did not make a decisive appointment at their board meeting. In the event of promoted teams not meeting the off pitch WSL1 criteria, it would have been the relegated team that would have stayed up. Whilst this does not apply in relation to withdrawals, we had hoped this would be an indication of fair and appropriate action.”