Sunderland Ladies dealt final promotion blow by FA as major decisions are finally taken
Sunderland Ladies’ promotion hopes look to have been definitively ended by the FA today.
The board have finalised a decision not to promote any teams from the third tier after finally settling the WSL and the Championship on a points-per-game basis.
After the COVID-19 outbreak caused the postponement of fixtures earlier this season, the FA opted to declare tiers three to seven null and void.
Sunderland were 11 points clear at the top of the National League North, and still had a game in hand on second-placed Derby County.
Melanie Reay’s side had also advanced to the final of the National League Cup, where they were due to face Stoke City.
The FA had stated that there would be no promotions from tier three, but there had been some doubt over what would happen for as long as the fate of the Championship was unknown.
Having decided to curtail that campaign last week, the FA have finally outlined their plans.
The Championship is to be settled on PPG, and there will be no relegation.
Liverpool are to be relegated from the WSL, while Aston Villa will be promoted from the Championship.
The top two tiers will otherwise remain unchanged for the next campaign.
Aston Villa have won promotion with an imposing record of 40 points from 14 games.
Sunderland’s tier three record at the time of postponement was 40 points from 14 games.
An FA statement said: “The FA Board has reached a majority decision to decide the 2019/20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship on a basic point-per-game [PPG] basis, with promotion and relegation determined on sporting merit.
“As a result, The FA Board has today confirmed the decision to award the 2019/20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League title to Chelsea FC Women, and to award the 2019/20 FA Women’s Championship title to Aston Villa Women FC.
“In addition, Chelsea FC Women and Manchester City Women FC will be nominated as the two English clubs to qualify for the 2020/21 UEFA Women’s Champions League competition, having finished in the top two places of the 2019/20 Barclays FA Women’s Super League season.
“The final team positions across both leagues also confirmed that Aston Villa Women FC would be promoted to the Barclays FA Women’s Super League for the 2020/21 season, and that Liverpool FC Women would be relegated to the FA Women’s Championship for the 2020/21 season. As the 2019/20 results were expunged between Tier 3 to Tier 7 of the women’s pyramid, there will be no relegation or promotion between the FA Women’s Championship and Tier 3 this season.
“All decisions were made and finalised by The FA Board – and were based on the most appropriate sporting outcome for the 2019/20 season. The FA Board considered and analysed all of the recommendations made to them by the FA Women’s Super League & FA Women’s Championship Board, which were collated after full and thorough consultation process with the clubs.”
Speaking at the time of the decision to declare tier three null and void, Sunderland said in a club statement that they accepted the decision.
“While today’s decision will lead to disappointment for players, staff and supporters alike, the club accepts it and recognises that in these unprecedented times, difficult measures must be taken to protect the safety and welfare of all within the game,” a statement said.
“Finally, everyone at SAFC would like to congratulate Mel and her players and staff on a fantastic season. We look forward to seeing you back in action, and we know you will come back stronger than ever.”
The FA have added that they are aiming to announce the start dates for the 2020/21 campaign soon.
The FA Women’s Championship have subsequently tweeted to confirm that the new season will start with eleven teams.