FA Women’s Super League college partnership update

The following text outlines important information for colleges and FE institutions partnering with The FA Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs and provides guidance to support the establishment and maintenance of meaningful partnerships.

As many of you will be aware, from the 2018-19 season the top tier of English women’s football has become full-time and, as part of their FA WSL Licence, all top tier clubs are required to run an academy under the new criteria.

A number of concerns regarding the sustainability of existing 16 to 19-year-old FE football programmes were raised in relation to the creation of an FA WSL Academy League. AoC Sport has been working closely with The Football Association over the past months to address these challenges, mitigate risks and maximise the opportunity this league presents.

We recognise this work is ongoing and ask any colleges to inform us of any challenges they are facing and/or examples of good practice in relations to the new changes; so we can work together to find solutions and ultimately protect the brilliant work colleges and the FE sector has done in developing Women’s Football.

If you have any concerns or good practice to share, please contact the AoC Sport Competitions team. 

Please find an update below which was sent to colleges linked to FA WSL clubs in September 2018 to support club partnerships and player development as well as our intention for ECFA Competitions to be the pathway feeding The FA WSL Academy League.


The FA has instructed clubs to devise service level agreements with FE partners in relation to their academy, player education and wider football development work.

AoC Sport advises colleges to consider the following points when drafting partnership agreements to ensure:

  • Student players are provided with a high-quality education and playing experience
  • Player development is maximised
  • The college can retain a competitive women’s 11v11 team
  • FA financial investment is used to maximum impact
  • The partnership brand is visible
  1. Colleges attached to FA WSL Clubs must enter a 16-21 team entered into the ECFA leagues, from which no more than three girls will be made available for The FA WSL Academy match day squad. This will help the college and club grow the number of female 16 to 21-year-old accessing quality, competitive game time on a regular basis and support player development and mitigate against the risk of existing teams folding.
  2. Colleges who currently don’t have a women’s programme but are the educational partner of an FA WSL Academy will be expected to start a women’s programme as part of the partnership.
  3. College and clubs are free to explore joint branding ventures for example, the badging of the Academy / ECFA team kits, in order to provide a clear statement of partnership work.


  1. The student can play for both the College and The FA WSL Academy teams, with their playing demands monitored to ensure no overplaying. Player development must be the number one priority and game minutes monitored.
  2. The college and club allow for players to transition between ECFA and FA WSL Academy leagues for player development / injury rehabilitation purposes in line with The FA WSL, FA WSL Academy and ECFA League rules.
  3. The FA WSL Academy fixtures can be played on a Sunday or Wednesday with The FA requesting there is intention to move the games to mid-week in 2019-20. We hope this will mitigate against existing 16-19 women’s teams from folding due to lack of players.


AoC Sport is delighted to confirm we are working with The FA to develop a Tier Two academy structure for 2019-20 as part of The ECFA Competitions Pathway; as The FA aims to create a consolidated pathway to deliver The FA Women’s Strategy 2017-20 ‘Game Plan for Growth’ which aims to double women’s football participation, double the fanbase and achieve consistent success on the world stage.

We will be sure to keep you informed of plans and progress as developments emerge.

This information is also posted on the ECFA League and Cup Overview page.

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