Women’s Super League and Championship clubs set to learn final league standings

Arsenal and Chelsea, along with leaders Manchester City, were the three clubs challenging for the title when the WSL season was halted

England’s top women’s clubs will learn their final league positions in the next 24 hours, BBC Sport understands.

Chelsea could be crowned Women’s Super League champions via a points-per-game system, while Liverpool wait to find out if they will be relegated.

Second-tier leaders Aston Villa are poised to go up to the WSL, if the Football Association opt to maintain promotion and/or relegation.

The main FA board will decide how to determine final standings.

The WSL and Women’s Championship seasons were formally ended on 25 May, after “overwhelming feedback from clubs” as it was decided not to attempt to resume the campaign.

The joint leagues’ board for the WSL and Women’s Championship sent various recommendations to the main FA board on how to “determine the most appropriate sporting outcome for the season”, after previously consulting with clubs from both divisions.

Manchester City were top of the WSL when the season was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, but second-placed Chelsea had a game in hand on the leaders and any points-per-game calculations would see Chelsea climb above City.

Alternatively, the FA board could decide to declare the campaign null and void – as was the case with tiers three to seven of the English women’s pyramid – and merely put forward two teams to Uefa as England’s representatives in next season’s Women’s Champions League “based on sporting merit”.

At the foot of the WSL, Liverpool are in danger of being relegated, sitting a point below second-from-bottom Birmingham – who had played one game fewer than the Reds – while Aston Villa are six points clear of Sheffield United at the top of the second-tier Championship.

It is understood no decision has yet been made regarding the conclusion of the Women’s FA Cup, which had reached the quarter-final stage before March’s suspension of elite football in England, but the cup competition remains under consideration by the FA.

What next for the women’s game’s calendar?

Provisional start dates for the 2020-21 season have not yet been announced, but there have been calls for the women’s game to attempt to utilise gaps in the calendar to maximise broadcast exposure while fans are watching sport from their homes.

Lynsey Douglas, global lead for women’s sport at analytics provider Nielsen Sports, told BBC Sport: “All the metrics around audiences are increasing. We know the interest is there. The appetite is there and the audience is there.

“In terms of interest in women’s football specifically, we’ve seen it grow from 14% of the UK population in January 2018, up to 24% in 2019.

“Everything is behind closed doors at the moment so there’s a bit of a level paying field for men’s and women’s sport.

“We know the men’s Premier League are going to conclude their campaign, but they’re going to need an off-season before their next season, so is there a gap there for women’s football to get in and do something different, grab that window of opportunity, because we know there’s so much appetite for sport at the moment.

“Women’s sport audiences are younger, more often on social media, and they’re better suited to the current situation, they’re more digital-savvy, they’re ready to engage on social media, which is the situation sport is finding itself in.”

BBC News