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Barclays Women's Championship 2023/24 Review

Tuesday, 30 April 2024

A look back at the 2023/24 Women's Championship season, the one that was wide open....

Ryan Asman


The 2023/24 Women’s Championship finished on Sunday, and what a season it was!  Big congratulations to Crystal Palace who claimed the title after one of the closest and tightly fought races for it in years.  At the other end of the table, it is commiserations to Watford and Lewes who were relegated to the FA Women’s National League for the 2024/25 campaign.

Here, in the order that they finished, is a review of all the 2023/24 Championship sides.

Photo: Ryan Asman

1st Crystal Palace

What an amazing campaign Crystal Palace had as they won the league and promotion to the WSL! 

Last summer, Grace Williams was brought in as head of women’s football (joining from last season’s Championship winners Bristol City) whilst Laura Kaminski joined as manager.

The goals from Elise Hughes, who finished as the Championship’s top goalscorer, and Annabel Blanchard helped them to some big wins including 9-1 and 5-1 over Durham, 6-1 against London City Lionesses, and beating Blackburn Rovers 4-0 home and away.  In total, Palace scored 55 goals in the league.

The Eagles made few changes in playing personal last summer and the astute signings of WSL and international experienced players Ria Percival and Izzy Atkinson in January helped them over the line as they won 7 of their last 9 games.


2nd Charlton Athletic

Karen Hills led her side to runners-up spot in another season of what can be seen as progress at the Addicks.  This is their best ever finish in the Championship as they ended a point off top spot.

Away from home they had a brilliant season, undefeated and winning 9 of their 11 games whilst conceding just 2 goals.  Their home form let them down a bit with only 4 wins out of 11.  A 1-0 defeat to Reading and conceding two late goals to lose against London City Lionesses may be looked back on as critical points dropped at home during the second half of the campaign.

The club have already announced they will be playing all their home league matches at The Valley next season and they will be looking to carry on their upward progress there.

Photo: Ryan Asman

3rd Sunderland

Another side who had an amazing season was Mel Reay’s Sunderland.  Even after adopting a hybrid playing model for this campaign, I don’t think many expected them to be challenging for the title until the second last match and eventually finish in third position, as well as reaching the Conti Cup quarter-finals.

The Lasses were strong defensively, conceding only 18 goals throughout the season, and their goalkeeper Claudia Moan won the Championship Golden Glove.

After a positive campaign, Sunderland will be looking to build on this in the next one.


4th Southampton

Another club who can see this as a season of progress are Southampton.  In their second campaign at this level, they have gained their highest ever finish in 4th place as well as getting more points than last year. 

The Saints also went through the whole season without drawing a game, winning 13 and losing 9 as they finished seven points off top spot.  Their best result was probably a 4-3 win away at champions Crystal Palace.

Southampton will hope the upward trend continues in the next campaign with a new manager in place after it was announced that Marieanne Spacey-Cale has moved to a more senior role at the club.


5th Birmingham City

Birmingham were seen as one of the favourites for the Championship title, especially after their good end to last season.  Instead, they had a slightly mixed and disappointing time as their hopes for top spot faded and they finished in 5th place.

The Blues made a slow start, picking up just one point from their first 4 games.  Things then picked up as they went on a 9-game unbeaten run, winning 8 of them. 

During the second half of the campaign their form was inconsistent, and Darren Carter left the club with 3 games remaining.  Women’s Technical Director Hope Powell brought in Amy Merricks, her former assistant at Brighton, as their new head coach on a 3-year contract in April.


Photo: Adam Mitten

6th Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn’s great campaign that saw them finish in 6th position seems to have gone under the radar a bit.  Simon Parker was appointed manager last summer and led Rovers to their best league finish and number of points, their most goals scored in the Championship, most shots saved, a record unbeaten run and a new attendance record of 1,591.

Big wins for Rovers included beating Southampton and Birmingham at home and Sunderland away.  They ended this campaign with an eight-game unbeaten run which saw them finish level on points with Birmingham and confident for next season.

7th Sheffield United

The heartbreaking news of the death of Sheffield United’s Maddy Cusack was announced in September.  Maddy’s family and friends continue to be in our thoughts.

Former head coach Jonathan Morgan first stepped away for a period as the club conducted an internal investigation and was then sacked in February over what the club described as his “conduct before arriving at Bramall Lane”.  Luke Turner took over as interim manager.

On the pitch, the Blades had a mixed season, before going on a good run in March when they won 4 games in a row, including beating Crystal Palace at home, which helped them to eventually finish in 7th place. 

Forward Isobel Goodwin scored 15 goals, finishing as the second highest goalscorer in the Championship.

Photo: Adam Mitten

8th London City Lionesses

London City Lionesses appointed Italian legend Carolina Morace as head coach in July.  Last summer also saw a large player turnover at the Pride as they prepared for this campaign after finishing in third place last year.

Things weren’t going that well, and with the club hanging just above the drop zone, Morace was sacked in February, at about what would have been half time in their Conti Cup quarter-final against Arsenal, which had been postponed.

Remi Allen was brought in to replace her and things picked up, with the Lionesses getting wins against high flying Sunderland and Charlton Athletic in consecutive weekends in March which helped them to finish nine points clear of the relegation places.


9th Durham

It is looking more and more that independent clubs, unless they have lots of money behind them, are going to find life harder in the Championship.  Durham have been a mainstay at this level for a number of years now but this season they struggled and were only confirmed to be safe with a few games remaining.

They won five times during the first half of the campaign, but then went from January until the final day of the season without a victory, when they beat Birmingham 1-0.


10th Reading

After being relegated from the Women’s Super League and with their men’s side also dropping down a level last summer, it was announced that Reading would be changing to a part-time model for this season.  Liam Gilbert was also brought in as manager replacing long-serving Kelly Chambers.

The Royals beat Sunderland and Charlton in February/March but then suffered some heavy defeats, and only confirmed their safety on the penultimate weekend after they had beaten fellow strugglers Durham and Lewes had lost. 

Perhaps, with everything else going on at the club, staying up was a big achievement in its own right!


11th Lewes

It was a tough campaign for Lewes, another side that doesn’t have the backing of a Premier League/EFL club.  The Rooks had to wait until their seventh game before they won their first match of the season away at Watford.  Away from home, they only picked up 4 points all campaign.

Their relegation to the FA Women’s National league was confirmed when they lost at home to Crystal Palace in front of a record league crowd at The Dripping Pan of 2,614 on the second last weekend of the season.


12th Watford

After winning the FA Women’s National League Championship Play-Off final and promotion, the Hornets struggled all season and were eventually relegated with a couple of games left.  Their star player was Arsenal loanee Michelle Agyemang but she missed portions of the campaign injured. 

Their best result was probably beating Birmingham, who were on a 9-game unbeaten run, 2-0 at home when Agyemang came on as a substitute and scored both goals. 


This has been the best Championship season we can remember.  It has been unpredictable and slightly wild at times with five sides still in the hunt for the title until the last couple of matches and the two relegation spots not confirmed until late on. 

For the 2024/25 season, Bristol City will be rejoining the Championship after getting relegated from the WSL whilst Newcastle United and Portsmouth will be joining it for the first time after winning the FA Women’s National League Premier Division titles and getting promoted.

Thank you, 2023/24 season, you were amazing!  Hopefully next season’s Championship will be as exciting as this one, and we cannot wait until September for it to begin! 

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