Manchester United get Women’s Championship licence; West Ham join top flight

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    Manchester United have been awarded a licence to join next season’s Women’s Championship, ending their 13-year absence from the senior women’s game.

    West Ham United will move straight up to the top flight – the new 11-team, full-time Women’s Super League.

    Charlton, Leicester City, Lewes and Sheffield United will join Man Utd in being added to the second tier.

    But current top-flight side Sunderland and second-tier Watford and Oxford are to drop out of England’s top two tiers.

    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.

    BBC Sport understands Sunderland, who finished seventh in the top tier in 2017-18, Watford and Oxford will all be offered spots in the third tier, the new Women’s National League.

    Manchester United, who had faced widespread criticism after disbanding their women’s team in 2005, are expected to be managed by former England international Casey Stoney, who won 130 caps.

    More to follow.

    You can now add WSL 1 notifications for line-ups, goals, kick-off, half-time and results in the BBC Sport app. Visit this page to find out how to sign-up.

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