Doncaster Rovers Belles to apply for vacant slot in FAWSL1

Photo: The FA/The FA via Getty Images
Photo: The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Doncaster Rovers Belles will apply to replace Notts County Ladies in FAWSL1.

Notts folded last month and the FA has invited applications from FAWSL2 clubs to take their place.

Interested clubs must show how they can meet the additional licence criteria and financial demands at the higher level - and the FA’s final decision will take into account various on and off the pitch factors.

Belles, who were relegated from FAWSL1 last season, confirmed they will apply in a statement released today.

The club also expressed their disappointment that their recent FAWSL1 status is 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.

“The club will, of course, be making an application to the FA for the WSL1 position. In fact, last week we submitted representations to the FA, which were presented at their board meeting.

“The published criteria indicate that the FA are looking for a particular type of club. We believe we have much to offer the WSL1, as well as the women’s game as a whole, and as such we believe the club has a strong case which we will put before the FA.”

FAWSL2 Spring Series leaders Everton will also apply, the Free Press understands.

Clubs have until the end of the month to submit their applications and a decision will be announced in June.

The new league season, which has this year been switched from summer back to winter, starts in September.

Belles were infamously ‘demoted’ from FAWSL1 by the FA in 2013 when the club were deemed not to have met licence critieria. Manchester City took their place.

They were subsequently promoted in 2015 and accepted back into the top flight but were relegated last year after winning just one game all season.