Women’s football doomed without a sustainable plan

Chelsea women's football players celebrate winning the Continental Cup.
Chelsea players celebrate after winning the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup final match at Vicarage Road, London. (Photo by Mike Egerton)

Top-flight women’s football in the United Kingdom is upon its long-awaited moment of redemption after a decade in existence. The £24 million broadcasting deal that the FA sealed last month could be the perfect chance for the game to move forward ambitiously. The landmark deal equates to around £7-8 million per season until 2024.

The Women’s Super League and the Women’s Championship will have to devise a viable yet efficient plan. With that in mind, there are several aspects that each club’s board will have to examine in order to get the most out of the TV deal. But as always, there are various dangers lurking around the notorious subject which might cause hazard.

Smaller clubs must receive a larger portion of the deal

WSL teams will receive 75% of the deal’s total amount, while Championship teams will have to do with just 25% of it.

Right now, lower tier teams won’t get any money out of the final cut. This means that the gap between the bottom and the top is expected to swell.

Those who are going to get the most out of it are the smaller clubs of the top tiers. Whilst every WSL team is going to receive the same amount of money, bigger clubs won’t see much difference in their financial status.

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The contrary can be said about the teams at the bottom of the league, which will see the deal as a huge financial and motivational boost. However, it would still be far more persuasive if the smaller clubs were getting more than the top five.

If that actually happened, it would see smaller clubs invest the money in new quality signings and support the infrastructures of their stadiums and training facilities. The clubs would also be able to hire more experienced staff and level up their youth departments. Overall, giving a bigger amount to smaller teams will gradually narrow the void between them and the very top.

Improving the image women’s football exports globally

Some days ago, Manchester United manager Casey Stoney pointed out the crucial urgency to improve how the world sees women’s football.

This was also mentioned by the former England manager Hope Powell, who said to BBC Sport that it is important “to ensure there is sustainability.” She also mentioned that although WSL has shown growth and improvement, it still lacks equality.

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The revenue coming from TV rights will improve that. Big names like the BBC and Sky Sports will increase the visibility of women’s football around the world through broadcasting.

Just as ESPN did back in 2011 and BT Sports continued doing afterwards, these two broadcasters will seek to achieve far beyond and in a decently spectacular way.

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup proved the previous point right. Big sponsors such as Adidas and Coca-Cola among others enhanced the game and endorsed it throughout the tournament.

Moreover, the atmosphere of the games is going to improve massively. Manchester United, Atletico de Madrid and Barcelona among others teams managed to gather a huge amount of fans by playing in big stadiums.

Bigger crowd results to bigger profit for the teams, which aim towards a brighter and financially more viable future.

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Recognition of Women’s Super League could be elevated

With over £100,000 for every game getting broadcasted on television, more teams are going to enter the transfer market “hunting”.

Last year, big household names such as Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Christien Press arrived in the UK bringing along a vast majority of sponsors and fans.

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What seemed like a rare occasion – huge names leaving their homelands to come and play in WSL – is now going to be a regular thing.

Also, more and more people are going to fill the otherwise “empty” stadiums for a chance to spectate their favourite players live. Stadiums will be overcrowded not only on the big derby days but also in a respected amount of games all season long.

Consequently, English women’s football will “break into” every house around the world. People will feel the need to watch the best players playing for English clubs and TV broadcasting will definitely help with that.

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Dangers lurk with higher exposure

The new WSL broadcast deal will obviously channel a huge amount of cash into the team’s pockets. But in return, clubs will be obliged to pay it off with the best possible footballing display.

Frozen pitches, fixture postponements and water-logged training pitches won’t be tolerated by such huge companies. Also, the lack of heating terrains is going to be a massive venture for the teams to take care of.

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Clubs will feel the heat coming off the big sponsors. It will add extra pressure for things to be done properly and in time for the next season to begin.

English football will never be the same. It is obviously expected that the women’s football will finally get into the spotlight, grasping the chance to gain the stardom it deserves.

Let 2021 be the year that women’s football will prove its haters wrong. The new deal proves that women’s football is not a sport nobody’s watching or cares about. The money will not be the solution to the game’s problems, but at least a fair step in the right direction.

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