Doncaster Rovers Belles to face Manchester United and Sheffield United next season

Doncaster Rovers Belles celebrate winning the FAWSL2 title
Doncaster Rovers Belles celebrate winning the FAWSL2 title

Doncaster Rovers Belles have had their place in the newly-named FA Women’s Championship confirmed for next season by the Football Association.

And they will come up against the freshly re-formed Manchester United Women who have also been granted a place.

Clubs were invited to lodge applications for a place in either of the top two tiers of women’s football following another restructuring of the Women’s Super League structure for the coming campaign.

Despite comfortably winning the WSL2 title, financial restrictions prevented the Belles from applying for a place in the top tier, which will become fully professional ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

The club has warned they face sliding down the leagues if they do not receive urgent financial support.

Their decision to remain in the second tier has been rubber-stamped, as has a place for Sheffield United Ladies.

This means the 12-team division will have three South Yorkshire representatives with Sheffield FC Ladies also retaining their place.

Lewes FC Women are also newcomers to the competition with Sunderland, Watford and Oxford all dropping out of the top two tiers and set to be offered places in the new National League.

West Ham United have been placed straight in the top flight while Brighton and Hove Albion have been promoted to WSL1 having finished second behind the Belles in the table.

Manchester United’s inclusion has proved controversial after the club’s women’s section was rapidly re-formed despite years of the idea being rejected.

They are expected to be managed by former England international Casey Stoney, who left her job in the England Women backroom staff last week.