Promotion and relegation update in the SWF pyramid

A number of teams withdrew from senior leagues this season, and while this is not new in women’s football it is clear that a period of stability is needed so that the best teams at the most sustainable clubs are given the opportunity to move up the pyramid, and that disruptive mid-season withdrawals become a thing of the past.

The need for stability was echoed by the clubs at an Emergency General Meeting of SWF clubs in the Championship and League One to work out practically how to minimise the disruption that teams withdrawing has on all leagues and the integrity of the game.

One automatic promotion and one play-off remains in place from the Championship into the SWPL.

At the start of the current season, clubs voted to grow the SWF Championship, Scottish Women’s Football’s top tier beneath the SWPL, to 12 teams for the 2024/25 season.

With one automatic promotion to the SWPL2 for the Championship winners and one play-off spot for the second-placed team, Edinburgh City’s decision to fold its double-winning women’s team means that there will be no relegation and the top three eligible teams in SWF League One will now be promoted to the Championship for the 2024/25 season.

Current League One rules state the club finishing 12th will be relegated, so with Grampian Ladies opting to play regional football before a ball was kicked and BSC Glasgow folding their women’s team mid-season, there is no 12th place and therefore there will also be no relegation from League One at the end of this season.

Clearly, regular relegation is a vital part of the football ecosystem, and must be in place from both SWF’s national leagues next season.

As previously outlined, the top eligible team in each of the four SWFL leagues will be given the opportunity to gain promotion to national football in League One. Four teams being promoted in this way is unprecedented.

In the SWFL, development teams of a club already placed in the national leagues of the women’s football pyramid remain ineligible for promotion, as the aim should be for these clubs to develop players that can break into their first team.

Clubs who are offered promotion from an SWFL league must therefore consider carefully if they have the additional resources to fulfil fixtures at a national level before accepting promotion. This includes squad size, finances to cover travel and increased visibility on social media to promote games in League One.

Applications for new teams to join the increasingly competitive SWFL will be considered based on the sustainability of a club to meet the challenges of regular competitive football, so we can all avoid regular forfeiting of games and disruptive withdrawals mid-season as we grow the game together.

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