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The appreciation of women’s football in Britain is constantly growing and advancing it into the mainstream sports arena. However, women’s football leagues have been around for much longer than many people realize. Documentation of matches between women’s teams dates back as far as the late 1890’s. Despite a continual gain in popularity up until 1920, the Football Association officials banned the sport after it was deemed to be inappropriate for women to play. The ban was finally lifted in 1972. Once again, this gave women the freedom to play football on fields across the country. With the ban removed, women’s football became so popular that Europe eventually served as host of the Women’s European Championships in 2005.

The Women’s Football League Organizational Pyramid

In England, the women’s football leagues are organized in a pyramid formation that becomes more geographically specific as you move down the list. Currently set to begin in March 2011, the FA Women’s Super League consisting of 8 teams will supersede the current FA Women’s Premier League National Division at the top level of the organizational pyramid. The Football Association will take control of this league to continue to assure the increasing awareness of equality between in the sexes in football.

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Once the Women’s Super League is officially in place, the FA Women’s Premier League National Division will become the second level of the pyramid structure. For the 2010-2011 football season as a result of the creation of the new Super League, this National Division will reorganize and go from consisting of a total of 12 teams to 8 teams. The structure of all games within the league involves teams battling each other two times in both home and away games; scores are recorded in a standard format for all games.

Both the FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division and Southern Division are represented in the third level of the pyramid below both the Super League and Premier League National Division. Spots in England’s Women’s League Cup and the Football Association Women’s Cup are available for champion teams from both the Northern and Southern Divisions. Additionally, talented teams and players from the lower levels of the organizational pyramid can be promoted up the ladder into these divisions to achieve both better pay and a stronger fan following. From this point in the pyramid, the leagues are broken down into more geographically specific categories in levels three through five.

Following the Northern and Southern Divisions, the third level of the pyramid is comprised of four Combination League Clubs that began in 1998: Northern Combination, Midland Combination, South West Combination and South East Combination. The Combination League Clubs are located just above the Regional League Premier Clubs within the football organizational pyramid. These leagues were specifically created to help mediate to wide disparities in player talent between the top and bottom level teams. The teams who qualify to compete in these Combination League Clubs have an additional incentive to perform well; the team with the best overall performance will earn themselves a new place in the Premier League.

The 8 Regional League Premier Clubs are the Eastern Region Premier, London & SE Region Premier, South West Region Premier, Southern Region Premier, West Midlands Region Premier, East Midlands Region Premier, North West Region Premier, and North East Region Premier. They are divided and make up both the fourth and fifth levels of the organizational pyramid. The North West and North East Regions Premiers are located directly below the Northern Combination League in the pyramid. The West and East Midlands Premier fall below the Midland Combination League. The Southern Region and South West Premiers are below the South West Combination League. Finally, the London & SE and Southern Region Premiers fall below the South East Combination League.