BREAKING: Radical proposals to inject £51M into women’s football have emerged in the latest version of ‘Project Big Picture’ (A link to what the project is by The Guardian) alongside an unprecedented proposition to form an independent women’s league.
The plans, which would be a first for the female game, are set out in the latest draft of the document authored by Liverpool and Manchester United as part of a major overhaul of the Premier League and English football.
As some outlets have reported, the 18th draft of the document reveals plans to invest £67M into the women’s, professional and grass-roots game each year from the 2022/23 season as part of a wider £205M package for “grass-roots football and good causes.”
These funds will be separate from a £10M emergency rescue grant promised to the FA and which will be distributed to the Women’s Super League and Championship to compensate for lost revenues during the COVID-19 hit in 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
Under the new proposals, 75% of the £51M figure would be invested into women’s football and split three ways between the Women’s Super League (WSL) and Women’s Championship, the Women’s FA Cup, and the grass-roots game, which would each receive £17M.
The remaining quarter would be distributed to the men’s grass-roots game and the document explicitly points out that the breakdown of payments cannot be changed without approval from the Premier League. If the plans finally take place, it would go some way in closing the pay gap between the prize money in the men’s and women’s FA Cup. The total prize pot in this year’s women’s competition is £309,355, around 1% of the men’s £30.25M.
There are also plans to establish a new women’s league which would be independent of both the FA and the Premier League. The women’s top flight only turned fully professional in 2018 and, despite a £10m landmark investment into the women’s game from Barclays last year, is not yet financially self-sufficient, having been steadily developed by the FA since its inception in 2011.
The FA have previously said that it will take its time to consider “a number of options on the table” regarding the future of the WSL. The Premier League have expressed an interest but are in no hurry to commit to a takeover, meanwhile over the summer WSL clubs were reportedly concerned that they might play second fiddle to the priorities of running the world’s most powerful league.
Private equity investors Bridgepoint and CVC were also in talks with The FA about purchasing a large stake in the WSL this year, but the option under this latest of proposals to have an entirely independent league may have its own added appeal. Only time will tell if Project Big Picture’s proposal goes through and becomes beneficial for women’s football, which deserves the same spotlight the men’s game has had for all these years.