A crash course on the FA women's club structure. First things first, the rules changed this year. No one knows yet whether that will work in the long run. It's fair to say that it's caused a lot of annoyance and disappointment. Plus some excitement - but that seems to be more about United's arrival than the structure. The top tier is the Women's Super League. Last year's winners - Chelsea (RU - Manchester City) 11 teams - with a hope from the FA that it can grow to 14. Requires 20 hours daytime contact time (coaching etc) + match time for all players and several full-time staff. So it's effectively a full time pro league. Attendance target >1000 rising to >2000 The top two qualify for the UEFA Women's Champions League The next tier is the Women's Championship (aka WSL2). There will be promotion/relegation between it and the WSL, but how that will play out when the financial commitments get included isn't obvious. United are in here. 12 teams Requires at least 8 hours contact time + matches, a couple of full-time staff and some part-time staff. Intended to be open to semi-pro clubs as well as pro ones. Attendance target 500+ The rest of the pyramid is organised around regional leagues - mostly amateur with various kinds of semi-pro teams. There are teams in here who were demoted as a result of the rule changes. Sunderland have dropped straight down from WSL1. Oxford and Watford lost their WSL2 places. Southampton applied for a place in WSL1 but were rejected - and didn't get offered a championship place either. It's thought that United are going straight to the WSL1 full-time model. We could (it's believed) have asked for a WSL1 place immediately, but chose not to. The assumption is that we wanted to get our act together outside the glare of publicity, and away from direct comparison with the top teams. There are two domestic cup competitions, with eligibility similar in principle to the FA Cup and League Cup in the men's game. However the WSL cup has a regional group stage followed by a knockout competition - so we may meet some of our noisy neighbours sooner rather than later.