If the old saying is to be believed, then winner takes all.
Not, however, in the case of Sunderland Ladies, Football Association Women's Premier League National champions for 2011.
They might have lifted the title to stake their claim as the best in the country, but they still missed out on a place in the potentially lucrative FA Women's Super League, running from April to August.
"We thought we were guaranteed a place, we were top of the league, everything was right on the playing side of things, and we had the backing behind the scenes as well," Sunderland Ladies chairman Maurice Alderson told BBC Look North.
"To be told our bid had failed, it was a devastating blow."
Newcastle United also missed out to leave one of England's traditional football hotbeds without representation in the new eight-team, semi-professional division.
"There are many questions to ask the Football Association.’Is it geographical?' is one," Newcastle United WFC first-team coach Gary Muttimer said.
"It is quite hard to digest, looking at all these teams progressing and pulling away, and we're not going to be part of that."
Clubs were invited to apply for places in the league in a similar vein to rugby league's Super League, with equal attention paid to business plans and revenue streams as to on-the-field success.
"I was very surprised, but what it came down to was not the quality of the team, it was about a bid. The FA was quite clear about it, it was an open bidding process," said Jen O'Neill, editor of the She Kicks women's football website. "Sixteen clubs tried to get into it, and they say that in terms of marketing and finance, perhaps the Sunderland and Newcastle bids were not good enough."
Source: Matt Newsum (BBC Sport's north east regional journalist)
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