The FA Women’s Championship began back in 2014 – where it was originally known as the FA WSL2.
It changed its name to the FA Women’s Championship at the start of the 2018/19 season, with the winning side each year being promoted to the Barclays FA Women's Super League.
Despite a stunning 24-goal scoring campaign from Reading’s Fran Kirby, setting a Championship record yet to be beaten, it was Sunderland who won the inaugural FA WSL2. Fired to the title by Beth Mead, Sunderland lost just once across the whole campaign to become the first team ever to be promoted to the Barclays FA Women's Super League.
Reading did not have to wait too long to get their own promotion, winning the 2015 FA WSL2 title. It was a close call though, as the Royals finished level on points with the Doncaster Rovers Belles who secured the second promotion spot. But Reading’s superior goal difference saw them named champions.
2016: Yeovil Town
The 2016 season once again saw two teams finish level on points. Yeovil Town won the league on goal difference, whilst Bristol City bounced straight back up to the Barclays FA Women's Super League having been relegated the season before in the second place promotion spot. Yeovil’s points total of 39 is the lowest ever amount a side has been able to win the Championship with.
In 2017, the FA WSL2 mirrored the top division in only having a ‘Spring Series’ as the women’s game in England altered its calendar to mirror the men’s. Made up of only nine games, the winners of the series were not originally going to gain promotion to the Barclays FA Women's Super League but with Notts County folding, applications were invited. Everton went on to win the Spring Series and have their application for promotion accepted, sealing their return to the top flight of women’s football.
2017/18: Doncaster Rovers Belles
There can’t be many examples of a side winning the league and being relegated in the same season but that fate befell Doncaster Rovers Belles in 2017/18. With the Barclays FA Women's Super League being restructured with new license criteria, there was no promotion to the top division based on results. So despite Doncaster Rovers Belles winning the league by 10 points, promotion was actually given to Brighton who had finished in second place. It was the Belles' first trophy since 1994, but due to financial reasons, the club dropped down to the third tier instead.
2018/19: Manchester United
The newly formed Manchester United won the FA Women’s Championship at the first time of asking back in 2018/19. Having appointed Casey Stoney as their manager, Manchester United filled their team with star-studded talent, most notably recruiting England international Alex Greenwood to be their captain. They won the league by nine points, scoring 98 goals in the process and losing only one game. Their points record of 55 still stands.
2019/20: Aston Villa
Despite having only finished sixth the year before, including a record 12-0 loss to Manchester United, Aston Villa won the 2019/20 Women’s Championship. Led by their prodigious young manager, Gemma Davies, Aston Villa gained promotion to the WSL on a Points Per Game basis, with the Women’s Championship having been curtailed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2020/21: Leicester City
Leicester City took full advantage of their newfound professional status to win the FA Women’s Championship in the 2020/21 season and become the latest addition to the Barclays FA Women's Championship. Former Manchester City youngster Natasha Flint was the star of their campaign scoring 17 goals on the way to promotion, whilst coach Jonathan Morgan won the league’s Manager of the Season award.
While it's early days in this FA Women's Championship season, Durham and Liverpool are both the current favourites.
Liverpool are looking to bounce back after relegation from the Barclays FA Women's Super League a year ago, while Durham are looking to carry on their trend of going one better than the season before – having finished second last season, third in 2019/20, and fourth in 2018/19 – by reaching the top flight for the first time.
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