Doncaster Rovers Belles are weighing up whether to appeal against the Football Association’s decision to deny them a place in FAWSL1.
The governing body announced on Friday that they had selected Everton to replace defunct Notts County Ladies in next season’s top flight.
Doncaster and Everton were the only two clubs to apply for the vacancy and their bids were judged on criteria including finance and business management, facilities and on pitch performance.
Belles were relegated from last year’s FAWSL1 and had already made public their disappointment that their recent top tier status was not enough to guarantee them an instant return to the top division when the competition resumes in September.
The FA’s decision to choose FAWSL2 Spring Series champions Everton - who are affiliated with their men’s team - is an unwanted throwback to 2013 when Belles were controversially demoted from FAWSL1 and replaced by cash-rich Manchester City.
Belles were made aware of their unsuccessful application last week.
The FA wrote to the club informing them of the decision but, after offering little in the way of an explanation, Belles immediately requested more details on how they had scored in each category.
Club officials are now digesting that information. They have until tomorrow to decide whether to appeal.
Sources close to the club have told the Free Press that an appeal is unlikely but the FA decision’s could result in Belles working more closely with Club Doncaster - the owners of Doncaster Rovers and Doncaster RLFC - in the future.
Belles issued a statement on Friday. It read: “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.”
Everton were founder members of FAWSL and played in the top flight from its formation in 2011 until they were relegated in 2014.
They are one of four second tier clubs who are affiliated with a men’s Premier League side, along with Brighton, Watford and promoted Tottenham.
Although they won the FAWSL2 Spring Series, finishing four points above Belles, the competition had no promotion and relegation attached to it.
Applications were judged on five criteria, weighted as follows: Finance and business management (30%), Marketing and commercial (15%), Facilities (20%), Players, staff and youth development (30%), On-pitch performance in 2016 season and Spring Series 2017 (5%).
Last month Belles expressed their “disappointment” regarding the application process, claiming the FA was looking for a “particular type of club”.
The FA’s decision is due to be ratified at the league’s annual general meeting on June 28.