Derby County Ladies could be heading to the top flight - but not how the club has ever seen it before.
The FA have recently announced the new requirements for the women’s top flight, just a year after moving the league to a winter season. From September 2018, the top division will be wholly made up of full-time professional teams, with a potential increase to 14 teams from the current ten-team division.
Derby County Ladies have been part of the Women’s Premier League since 2009, but terminology is a little misleading in the women’s game; the Premier League is the third tier of the game, with the top league being the FA Women’s Super League (or WSL for short).
In recent years Derby County Ladies have made their commitment to reaching the WSL criteria well-known, and after their 1-1 draw with Leicester City became the first women’s game to be shown live on RamsTV - Derby’s official club video streaming service - it seems likely that the Ewe Rams will be looking to make a bid.
The club have welcomed the changes in an official statement, suggesting that they have more modest ambitions of WSL2 (second tier) in the short-term. Despite the RamsTV cameo, Derby County Ladies are still amateur and receive no funding from the main club.
Recently they launched a crowdfunding page just to buy a minibus to use for away games.
There’s no way that the Ewe Rams could reach professional status in WSL1 with their current setup, but if the men’s club see this as the growth opportunity that it is - and continue to invest their resources in the team - top-flight football could finally be heading back to Derby.