1. ITV Report

Women's Super League: Everything you need to know before kick off

  • Words by ITV News Multimedia Producer Kavita Patel and video report by ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger

The Barclays FA Women's Super League kicks off on Saturday to ever growing interest, buoyed by the success of the recent World Cup.

Record TV audiences watched the England Lionesses' run to the semi-finals and increasing numbers are expected at grounds up and down England as the stars of the summer take on each other with their club sides.

If you're new to the domestic women's game, here's everything you need to know to get up to speed about the WSL:

Why is this year's WSL so different from any other?

The league season begins with some box office clashes - on two of the biggest stages in English football - which has drawn record crowds.

The opening weekend sees Manchester City take on Manchester United at the Etihad, while Chelsea host Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.

And rather than a smattering of dedicated fans who used to attend the low-profile WSL, tens of thousands are expected to turn out for the matches.

More than 20,000 tickets have been sold for the Manchester derby, which will smash the existing record WSL crowd of 5,265 - for a day.

That's because Sunday's Stamford Bridge clash is expected to be at near-capacity in the 41,000 seater-stadium.

Which other teams compete in the Super League?

Eight more teams complete the 12-team league, including three-times champions Arsenal, who won the league again last season.

The full team list is:

  • Arsenal
  • Birmingham City
  • Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Bristol City
  • Chelsea
  • Everton
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Reading
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • West Ham United
Arsenal Women's team celebrate with the FA Women's Super League trophy after the final whistle. Credit: PA

Who do the Lionesses play for?

Seven of the Lionesses play for Man City, led by England captain Steph Houghton, who particularly impressed at the Women's World Cup.

The play-making defender completed more passes than any other England player at the WWC - 388.

England's Ellen White (centre) celebrates scoring a goal during the Women's World Cup semi-finals. Credit: PA

Man City also boast six other Lionesses, including goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, defender Demi Stokes, midfielder Keira Walsh and Jill Scott as well as forward Georgia Stanway and iconic striker Ellen White - who was the first England player to score in five World Cup matches in a row.

Lucy Bronze's performances at the World Cup helped England to reach the semi-final. Credit: PA

So who's out to rival them from the England squad?

Lionesses also play for the following teams:

  • Arsenal - Leah Williamson (defender), Beth Mead (forward)
  • Birmingham City - Lucy Staniforth (midfielder)
  • Chelsea - Carly Telford (goalkeeper), Millie Bright (defender), Fran Kirby (forward)
  • Manchester United - Mary Earps (goalkeeper), Abbie McManus (defender)
  • Reading - Jade Moore (midfielder)

But England fans hoping to see Toni Duggan and Lucy Bronze will have to go to Spain and France, as they play internationally for Atlético Madrid and for Olympique Lyonnais, respectively.

The growing profile of the England players has been a focus at a time when the US women's team is fighting for equal pay.

How should English football react to the gender pay gap dispute?

Several international nations have made the move to pay the men and women who represent them on the football pitch the same.

ITV News Video Producer Natalia Jorquera explains why calls are increasing for football's pay gap to change.

Who are the other stars in the WSL?

Vivianne Miedema, who plays for Arsenal, is one to watch this season.

At just 22 years old, she is already the all-time record goal scorer for the Netherlands.

Last season she scored an outstanding 39 goals in 46 appearances.

Erin Cuthbert, who plays for Chelsea, is another to look out for, following her success for Scotland in the WWC.

England youth international goalkeeper Sophie Baggaley impressed the Robins last term and signed a two-year contract extension for Bristol City in May.

Is there only one division?

No, there's a whole extra division playing just below the Super League.

The FA Women's Championship, which was founded in 2014, is made up of 11 teams.

Durham, Aston Villa, Lewes, Sheffield United, London City Lionesses, London Bees, Charlton Athletic, Coventry United, Crystal Palace, Blackburn Rovers Ladies and Leicester City all compete in the championship and are battling it out to get to the WSL next season.