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Report: WSL revamp in doubt as Premier League clubs disagree over UK£25m funding plan

Majority of English men’s top-flight soccer teams yet to support FA’s proposal for women’s league.

15 September 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • FA wants relaunch from 2024/25
  • Premier League clubs would take ownership of WSL
  • Deadline set for December to get funding in place

A proposed relaunch of the Women’s Super League (WSL) could be in doubt due to disagreements over funding, according to the Daily Mail.

Premier League clubs have reportedly been asked by the Football Association (FA) to provide around UK£25 million (US$31.1 million) to set up an ‘enhanced’ English women’s soccer top flight for the 2024/25 season, but a majority of teams have yet to agree.

While a ‘significant minority’ of Premier League clubs purportedly support the FA’s proposal, the national soccer governing body remains someway short of getting the 14 votes needed to introduce the changes to the WSL.

The FA is also reportedly concerned that it will run out of time to complete the WSL relaunch next season and has set a deadline of December to get the funding in place. Its proposal would see Premier League clubs take ownership of the WSL, although the FA would retain a ‘golden share’, giving the organisation the right of veto over key decisions.

In addition, startup costs for the revamped WSL would reportedly come from the Premier League’s central funds. However, there is disagreement from clubs over whether they should all contribute and how much each should put in, given only ten of the Premier League’s 20 teams will have sides competing in the 12-club WSL this season.

The Mail adds that while the Premier League remains interested in taking over the WSL, it is yet to formally put the proposals to clubs, who are said to be split on whether this is the right time. 

SportsPro says…

A lot has changed for the better in the WSL in recent years, as shown by its current “game-changing” broadcast partnership with Sky and the BBC, as well as a rise in attendances and viewing figures off the back of England’s Uefa Women’s Euro 2022 triumph. But the top flight now has a lot more on its plate.

The FA, which runs the WSL, is still deciding on the league’s best path forward and wants to establish a separate company to run the competition independently. Private equity investment has been reported but, according to the Mail, the FA believes that the Premier League is best placed to run the WSL. The plan is to usher in the changes to coincide with the start of the next WSL domestic broadcast deal from 2024/25.

The 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup demonstrated the appetite for women’s soccer in England but there is a lot of work ahead to capitalise on this interest. Indeed, former Lionesses midfielder and chair of a new independent review Karen Carney believes the female domestic game is not built on solid foundations and needs significant help across the board if it is to match the success of the England women’s national side.

Carney also believes English women’s soccer could be a billion-pound industry in ten years’ time. A thriving WSL is essential for ensuring that prediction comes true.

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