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EVERY question you now have about women’s football – answered by an expert

The Women’s World Cup enthralled the nation, with millions tuning in to watch. So how does the Women’s Super League work?

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Who will be challenging for the Women’s Super League title this season?

It's difficult to see beyond the big three of reigning champions Arsenal, two-time winners Chelsea and 2016 victors Manchester City.

When does the season start?

The Championship starts on the weekend of August 17/18; the WSL starts on the weekend of September 7/8.

Who are the promoted teams?

Manchester United step up to the big time in only their second season under the management of Casey Stoney. They have plenty of support (and money) behind them, and will be looking to mix it at the top of the table. Tottenham Hotspur also join the WSL for the first time.

Who will be in the relegation battle?

Tottenham will know they have a fight on their hands as they adapt to the top flight. Brighton and Everton were also loitering in the lower reaches of the league last season – but both have been carefully adding to their squads in the close season.

Are the different divisions the same as the men’s?

No. Places in the WSL and Championship (the second tier) are awarded by licence, not necessarily via promotion and relegation. 

Underneath the Championship is the National League Premier Division, which is split into Northern and Southern competitions.

When do league matches take place?

Usually on Sunday afternoons, with occasional midweek or Saturday night fixtures. It's always wise to keep an eye on clubs' social media for fixture news – they can be annoyingly inconsistent in their scheduling.

How much is a ticket to a WSL game?

Ticket prices aren't yet confirmed, but usually anywhere between £5 and £15 for an adult. The clubs' season passes are normally very good value.

Who is in the Champions League?

Arsenal (last season's WSL champions) and Manchester City (the runners-up) both enter at the knockout round of 32 after the qualifying stages are completed. The first legs will take place on September 11/12. 

Last season’s Champions League semi-finalists Chelsea didn’t qualify for this year’s competition.

MORE ON THIS How UEFA used the Champions League final to reveal their plan to revolutionise women’s football

Who are the non-English clubs to watch?

Lyon are the best women's football team in the world. Last year's Champions League winners, they have Lionesses Lucy Bronze, Izzy Christiansen (who missed the World Cup through injury) and Nikita Parris in their ranks this season.

Can I watch any games on TV or online?

Oh yes. TV coverage in previous years has been difficult to follow, but some league matches have been available on BT Sport, BBC Red Button, BBC online, and via Facebook Live. Some FA Cup matches and later Champions League fixtures are also shown. Televised games for the 2019/20 season have not yet been confirmed.

EXCLUSIVE England captain Steph Houghton demands more televised games to help boost women’s football

When is the next big international tournament? 

England will lead the Team GB campaign at next year's Olympics under Phil Neville, who will hope to add the likes of Kim Little from the Scotland camp.

The year after that, Euro 2021 will be hosted in England. As hosts, the Lionesses are the only one of the 16 teams to have qualified so far – and the final will be held at Wembley.

Are any clubs as good as the top international sides?

You'll see plenty of the top international stars in WSL action – the Netherlands' Vivianne Miedema, Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord all play for Arsenal, for example. 

And if you've enjoyed watching the Lionesses this summer, most of them will be playing WSL football once the season kicks off. Recent FourFourTwo cover stars Steph Houghton, Demi Stokes, Keira Walsh and Jill Scott all currently play at Manchester City.

Are women’s footballers professional?

Those in the WSL are full-time professionals as part of their licence conditions. The ones in the Championship are semi-professional – although Manchester United were full-time pros last season.

How much do they get paid?

Salaries are hugely variable. The average is reported to be around £27,000 a year, with the biggest stars at the biggest clubs earning more – England captain Steph Houghton is thought to earn around £65,000 a year, for example.

MORE ON THIS Here are the highest paid women’s footballers in the world – and how they compare to the highest paid men

How big are attendances?

Chelsea and Manchester City draw the biggest crowds in the WSL, averaging around 1,800. Bigger fixtures attract more, as do special occasions like when the male clubs' stadiums host their female counterparts, bringing in even higher figures. 

What is the biggest attendance for a game in England?

The showpiece FA Cup final is hosted at Wembley and attracts upwards of 40,000 fans – in 2018, the London derby between Chelsea and Arsenal was attended by 45,423. 

But a century ago, before women's football was banned for 50 years, exhibition matches would regularly get gates of tens of thousands, with the famous Dick, Kerr Ladies playing St Helens in front of over 53,000 fans at Goodison Park in 1920. 

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Carrie Dunn’s The Pride of the Lionesses: The Changing Face of Women’s Football in England will be published in October

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