During the forthcoming season, FA WPL teams will compete for entry based on league position and meeting off-field licensing criteria.
The expansion of the FA WSL was agreed by The FA Women’s Board and relayed to clubs at the inaugural meeting of the new FA WPL on 22 June. New league rules were also introduced as the clubs voted unanimously at a meeting at Wembley on 19 July.
"The new bigger FA WPL will provide a strong, sustainable structure for clubs"
The winners of this season’s Northern and Southern Premier Divisions will play off to determine the overall championship winner, who providing they meet licensing requirements will enter FA WSL 2 for the start of the 2016 campaign.
Similarly the FA WPL champions for the 2015-16 season will have the opportunity to secure promotion at the start of the 2017 FA WSL campaign.
No FA WSL 2 club will be relegated, as their licenses protect them from relegation until 2017. Work is now underway to determine plans for the FA WSL 2018 season onwards.
Kelly Simmons, FA Director of National Game and Women’s Football, said: “When we launched The FA WSL in 2011, it was always our aim that the elite women’s division would be supported by a viable, sustainable pathway from the winter football pyramid.
“Expanding The FA WSL was one of our longer-term aims. We made a commitment to FA WPL clubs in January that we would look at the possibility and potential timescales of doing that and it’s great that we have been able to confirm this for the start of the season.
"The new bigger FA WPL will provide a strong, sustainable structure for clubs. This is a real milestone in the development of women’s football in England and we’re looking forward to an exciting, competitive FA WPL season."