Barnsley FC Women or Barnsley Women FC?

Barnsley WFC celebrations v Leeds United
Barnsley WFC goal celebration. (Photo: Julian Barker)

The FA Women’s National League is set to have two very similar sounding clubs in its ranks next season.

Barnsley FC Women are the newcomers, having clinched the North East Women’s Regional League Premier Division title at the weekend.

Barnsley Women FC ended the just completed FAWNL season in fourth place in Division One North.

Whether the pair will meet next season has still to be confirmed. If each of the six FAWNL divisions remain at a dozen strong, then it looks more likely than not that Barnsley Women FC will need to switch to Division One Midlands.

With promotion and relegation between the various steps of the pyramid determined geographically, the 2023-24 season has not been kind to the administrators.

Barnsley FC Women teamtalk at Oakwell
Barnsley FC Women receive teamtalk at Oakwell.

On the plus side for the FAWNL, both the Northern Premier Division and Southern Premier Division champions are now guaranteed (subject to satisfying licensing criteria) to move up to the Barclay’s Women Championship, so congratulations to both Newcastle United and Portsmouth.

Moving in the opposite direction are Lewes and Watford, neither of whom can sensibly be placed in next season’s Northern Premier Division.

Relegated from the Northern Premier Division are AFC Fylde and Huddersfield Town, so the three vacancies created in the northern half of step 3 should be filled by the promoted pair of Hull City and Sporting Khalsa along with Rugby Borough (switching from the Southern Premier Division).

Exiting FAWNL Division One North are champions Hull City, along with the relegated pair of Chester-Le-Street Town and FC United of Manchester. Replacing that trio will be AFC Fylde and Huddersfield Town, plus the champions of the North East and North West Regional Leagues in Barnsley FC Women and Cheadle Town Stingers respectively. But that means four teams replacing three.

So, which of the quartet does not make the cut?

Barnsley Women FC would appear to be the logical choice. Their designated home venue for 2023-24 was Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park which is several miles north of Sheffield FC who were relegated from Division One Midlands. The Olympic Legacy Park is readily accessible from the M1 and more southerly than Rossington Main which was the home venue for Doncaster Rovers Belles when they were in Division One Midlands.

The FAWNL did operate with non-dozen sized divisions in 2021-22 following the resumption of normality after two Covid affected seasons with several teams stepping up and the divisions then returning to a dozen with additional relegated teams at the end of the season.

By Julian Barker

Development side Civil Service Ladies knockout Championship opposition

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