West Ham United Ladies have been awarded a licence to join next season’s Women’s Championship as part of the new 11-team, full-time Women’s Super League.
The news comes after a restructure of the women’s leagues – which are run by the Football Association – and saw existing clubs have to re-apply for their places, before a second, open application phase.
Southampton, Crystal Palace and Derby County were among the other sides to bid to join the new second division but were unsuccessful.
A number of criteria need to be met for Ladies teams to join the Women’s Super League.
These include employing playing staff to full-time contracts with a minimum of 18 hours training and preparation per week, provide elite conditioning, medical and welfare facilities and show detailed commercial plans to increase attendances and revenue.
The Ladies’ club will also have to commit to joining a new academy structure.
For an application to be successful, the football club also have to provide a number of other facilities at their training centre, including car parking, a clubhouse, separate dressing rooms and showers for home and away teams and officials, a medical room, press facilities and office space.