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FA WSL launches with derbies

UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists Arsenal LFC and Everton will both kick off England's new FA WSL on 14 April with derbies after the first fixtures were announced.

Arsenal will go into the FA WSL as reigning English champions
Arsenal will go into the FA WSL as reigning English champions ©Arsenal FC

England's new summer women's league, the FA WSL, will launch on Thursday 14 April and the first set of fixtures have been announced.

Eight teams have been guaranteed places in the first two seasons of the competition, including English titleholders Arsenal LFC and their fellow UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-finalists Everton. Both begin with local derbies as Arsenal visit Chelsea LFC and Everton go to Liverpool FC, while in the other matches Lincoln LFC meet Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC and Birmingham City LFC – who have signed England winger Karen Carney – take on Bristol Academy WFC.

The first half of the season will run up to 12 May and the season concludes in August, with a break for England's participation in the FIFA Women's World Cup in late June and early July. The semi-professional league, which will include full-time players, will have weekly national television coverage including five guaranteed live matches while the Football Association (FA) are investing €3.5m in the league along with guarantees from the competing clubs.

Prior to those games Arsenal and Everton continue their European campaigns on 16/17 and 23/24 March with an eye on the London final at Craven Cottage. Arsenal, champions in 2007, aim to avoid a fourth straight quarter-final exit when they take on Sweden's Linköpings FC while Everton, at this stage for the first time, meet FCR 2001 Duisburg, who knocked out the Gunners last season. The FA WSL will also determine England's two UEFA Women's Champions League in future seasons but for the 2011/12 edition the FA Women's Cup will be the qualifying event.