Sunderland and Watford to play in the FA Women’s Championship

Sunderland celebrations
Photo: Colin Lock

Sunderland and Watford have been moved up into the FA Women’s Championship for season 2021/22 as part of the FA’s Upward Club Movement.

The FA has confirmed that the Upward Club Movement process within the Women’s Football Pyramid, which was opened via application in April, has now been determined by the Women’s Football Board following the curtailment of the 2020/2021 season in Tiers 3-6.

All clubs participating in Tiers 3 to 6 (inclusive) of the Women’s Pyramid were permitted to apply for upward movement, with successful clubs moving into the league or division immediately above the Tier in which they currently operate.

As a result, FA Women’s National League Northern Premier side, Sunderland, and FA Women’s National League Southern Premier side, Watford, have been successful in applying for upward movement and will compete in the FA Women’s Championship next season.

Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brighouse Town will move up into Tier 3 (FA WNL Northern Premier), along with Southampton FC and Ipswich Town (FA WNL Southern Premier).

Full details of upwards club movement are as follows:

Division Successful Clubs
FA Women’s Championship (Tier 2) Sunderland


FA WNL Northern Premier (Tier 3) Wolverhampton Wanderers

Brighouse Town

FA WNL Southern Premier (Tier 3) Ipswich Town

Southampton FC

FA WNL Division 1 North (Tier 4) Alnwick Town

FC United of Manchester

FA WNL Division 1 Midlands (Tier 4) Peterborough United

Leek Town

FA WNL Division 1 South East (Tier 4) Harlow Town

Queens Park Rangers

FA WNL Division 1 South West (Tier 4) AFC Bournemouth

Portishead Town

North West Regional Premier Division (Tier 5) AFC Darwen

(Only 1 application received so 1 vacancy left unfilled)

North East Regional Premier Division (Tier 5) Sunderland West End

Wakefield Trinity

West Midlands Regional Premier Division (Tier 5) Tamworth


East Midlands Regional Premier Division (Tier 5) Lincoln United

Notts County

Eastern Region Premier Division (Tier 5) King’s Lynn Town

Millwall Lionesses (Millwall have also had an application for sideways movement approved so will play in the London & South East Regional Premier Division)

London & South East Regional Premier Division (Tier 5) New London Lionesses


Southern Region Premier Division (Tier 5) Abingdon Town (1 vacancy due to the Southern Region League running 1 division at Tier 6)
South West Regional Premier Division (Tier 5) AFC St Austell

Sherborne Town

Forest Green Rovers (3 vacancies due to the South West Regional League running 3 divisions at Tier 6)

Watford celebrate a goal
Photo: AW Images

Applications were marked against a criteria weighted 75% on-field and 25% off-field. The on-field criteria considered aspects such as points per game, cup performances and goal difference, across the last two seasons. The off-field section marked clubs on areas such as club structure, workforce and facilities. Clubs applying to move into the FA Women’s Championship, also had to demonstrate that they would be able to meet the required licence criteria.

Clubs were recently informed of the outcome of their applications and successful clubs will now be preparing during the off-season ahead of the 2021/2022 season. The FA would like to thank all clubs who applied following an impressive set of applications; and congratulate all those clubs who made successful applications as well as thank Leagues and County FAs for their support.

Decisions on Promotion Pool applications (movement from Tier 7 to Tier 6) and other movements within the Women’s Football Pyramid will be made shortly and confirmed to clubs, allowing full league allocations to be confirmed in due course.

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