The FA Women’s Super League returns to BT Sport this April for the 2015 season and it promises to be bigger and better than ever following last year’s dramatic season finale.
Liverpool retained their title on goal difference on an tense and exciting final day of the season, where Chelsea and Birmingham had also been in contention going into the season climax plenty more drama is guaranteed this season as the WSL continues to grow and expand its fan base and following.
Another hugely successful season saw more fans than ever coming through the turnstiles since the competition’s launch back in 2011, and now the second season of the expansion to two divisions in 2015 is set to continue moving the women’s game forward.
In its relatively short lifespan so far, the WSL has captured the imagination of women’s football supporters up and down the country with some of the best talent across Europe and the world coming to ply their trade in England.
Attendances at Women’s Super League matches last season increased more than 30% on the previous term, with the average attendance in 2014 up to 728, while Manchester City recorded the highest average league attendances of the season at just under 1,000.
BT Sport’s four year deal to screen several live games throughout the season, as well as the BBC’s increased commitment to women’s football, is also seen a pivotal step in increasing the profile and of elite English women’s football and attracting new audiences to the game.
As part of a two-year plan to expand the top flight from eight teams to 10 by 2017, two teams will be promoted to the Women’s Super League from this season, with the addition of a second promotion place, while only one team will relegated to the second division, meaning nine teams will contest the top flight in 2016.
After claiming the crown in thrilling fashion last season, Matt Beard’s Liverpool side have boosted their bid for a third consecutive title with several high-profile signings, including American star Satara Murray and Asisat Oshoala, who was recently crowned African Women’s Player of the Year.
Chelsea finished as runners-up in heart-breaking fashion on the final day of last season and manager Emma Hayes will be hoping to go one step better in 2015, while third-placed Birmingham City Ladies will also be well placed to mount another serious challenge at the title.
Arsenal Ladies, who were the champions in the first two WSL seasons, ended 2014 in fourth place, though silverware is never far away at the North London club, and again it proved the case as last year after they beat Everton to claim the FA Women’s Cup for the 13th time, in what was the last game in charge for manager Shelley Kerr.
The Gunners will be fighting back to take the WSL crown this season after a relatively poor showing last season, while Manchester City Women, who beat Arsenal in the WSL Continental Cup final last season, compete in their second WSL campaign, having made their bow in 2014 after taking the place of Doncaster Rovers Belles, finishing a creditable fifth.
Along with Bristol Academy, Sunderland and Notts County, all eight teams will be vying to lift the WSL trophy in the autumn and fans can follow all the drama throughout the season with live games on BT Sport, plus regular highlights on BBC TV.
BT Sport will once again be following the entire FA Women’s Super League season with exclusively live games and regular highlights.
The broadcaster has chosen its first two live broadcast matches for the new season and kicking off its coverage will be WSL newcomers Sunderland’s visit last season’s champions Liverpool on Wednesday, March 25, live on BT Sport 1 from 7.30pm.
That evening BT Sport, the lead partner of the FA Women’s Super League, will also air a women’s football special on its daily Football Tonight show at 7.00pm, with England Women head coach Mark Sampson and Jacqui Oatley joining host Lynsey Hipgrave to preview the new season.
Arsenal’s trip to Notts County on Thursday, April 2, will also be live on BT Sport 1 from 7.30pm, with 12 more live games set to be added to the channel’s schedules throughout the season.
Helen Skelton will front BT Sport’s live coverage of the best matches from English women’s football’s top flight, while the weekly FA WSL Review Show will return this season with the programme airing at the new slot of Sunday nights at 10.00pm.
After signing a four-year partnership with the FA in 2013, BT Sport will exclusively show live Women’s Super League matches across the season, putting women’s football firmly in its spotlight over the summer months
Katie Brazier, FA head of women’s leagues and competitions, said: “Live television coverage of FA WSL matches is essential to the growth and development of the league and of the women’s game as a whole.
“Working with BT Sport we’ve increased the hours of broadcast and exposure that The FA WSL receives so we can showcase the best of domestic women’s football to a wider audience.
“As last season’s finale demonstrated, The FA WSL is full of quality and drama and we’re looking forward to more of the same in 2015.”
Simon Green, BT Sport channels director, said “This year is a big year for women’s football with the World Cup only a few months away.
“It’s fantastic to be starting our second season of broadcasting and supporting The FA WSL. Women’s football is a fast growing sport in terms of participation and viewers and we’re delighted to be a supporter.”
| FA WOMEN’S SUPER LEAGUE – LIVE GAMES on BT SPORT
|THURSDAY 25th MARCH|
|Liverpool Ladies v Sunderland Ladies FA Women’s Super League 1||19:45|
|THURSDAY 2nd APRIL|
|Notts County Ladies v Arsenal Ladies FA Women’s Super League 1||19:45|
BBC Sport will be following the 2015 FA Women’s Super League season with extensive coverage on TV, radio and online.
The Women’s Football Show, presented by Jacqui Oatley, returns for the new season on Monday, March 30, with the series moving back to a late-night slot on BBC Two after Newsnight, having been shown on BBC Three last season.
The series will again look at the biggest issues in the women’s game, as well as feature regular highlights and all the best goals from the Women’s Super League, as well as the FA Women’s Cup and FA WSL Continental Cup.
In the first show, Jacqui Oatley and guests including former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis analyse the start of the season, including a profile Sunderland’s new head coach, former Wimbledon Crazy Gang member Carlton Fairweather, and Sue Smith talks to England’s Lianne Sanderson ahead of the friendly against China in early April.
The BBC Sport website will also feature extensive coverage of the 2015 season via bbc.co.uk/sport, including all the latest news, views, video, results and reports.
All of this forms part of the BBC’s comprehensive coverage of women’s football throughout the year, which includes live TV coverage of every single match at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer in Canada.
This will be followed later in the symmer by exclusive coverage of the FA Women’s Cup final in August, which will be staged at Wembley for the first time, live on BBC One.