Shocking, ladies and gentlemen. I never thought the time would come but, there’s great news on the UK, related to women’s football. Or so it looks like.
This week, the Premier League announced they will donate £1M to help their female counterpart, the Women’s Super League, to restart next 2020/21 season. However, they will continue to stand its ground on providing financial support for the men’s football pyramid. Of course, they think £1M is enough for the women’s game to come back while they’re gaining millions and millions with men’s football, and TV rights. Even the lower teams who get ascended from the Championship into the Premier League win more money than this ‘benevolent donation’. It’s simply outrageous!
Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, appeared in front of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee to answer questions on the restart of the Premier League. During it, the chief executive was also asked to explain the competition’s support for Black Lives Matter, the support on the women’s game, and the possible use of Covid-19 passports by supporters. It all had a very simple answer…
Masters admitted £15M of the £20M the league pledged to support the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic had been rerouted from other charitable causes. He also laid out that the projected losses for the league this season could run to £700M.
The standout figure was the £1M the league will give to fund testing capacity for the restart of the WSL and Championship in September, as ‘the right thing to do’. Of course, this comes after the men’s top flight and the FA has received criticism during all these months due to failing to help fund a completion of the women’s season, in contrast to its peers in the Bundesliga and the NWSL.
“We want the women’s game to be successful,” Masters said.
“We would like to thank the Premier League for its support in providing crucial funding that will allow us to align with their testing protocols when we come back for the 2020-21 season,” Kelly Simmons, the FA’s director of the women’s professional game, said.
Furthermore, the Championships for both men’s and women’s are in danger during this pandemic. The risk of 10 to 15 EFL clubs going bankrupt is still not solved, and so far, nothing has been done to prevent it.
“We meet with the EFL every week and that has not been a topic of discussions,” Masters replied.
Moreover, arguing that the game as a whole (men’s and women’s) was still in “rescue mode”, Masters said:
“These topics need to be addressed, but not now. The last deal [on parachute payments] was agreed 18 months ago; we are committed to it for the next three years.”
Masters also faced sustained questioning on the league’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement. He said the action drew a “clear distinction between a moral cause and political agenda” and was possible because of “unanimous” support across the game.
But going back to the topic discussed, is £1M enough for women’s football to support testing and help all the teams in the league reover a state of normality before the restart of a new season?
Undoubtedly, when the WSL gets going again in September (if it does), the same weekend that gave such a successful start to the season last year, it could be the start of a new season of opportunity but also of risk. While the gains and progress have been huge, the momentum has been essential, and we cannot let up in pursuit of progress in the sport. The current situation may seem bleak but the future is bright, so let’s hope the Premier League and the FA keep supporting the women’s game as they’re doing now; and start making ‘generous donations’ more often.