By Jonathan Copping, Stone King LLP, London, UK
In a potentially ground-breaking moment for women’s football, the Football Association has confirmed that Barclays Bank will be the new sponsor of the Women’s Super League for three seasons starting from next season 2019-2020.
It is believed that this sponsorship deal is worth in excess of £10million and will see the Women’s Super League rebranded as the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, with a prize pot of £500,000. This will be the first time that the winner of the Women’s Super League has received official prize money.
Following the announcement, the Football Association’s director of professional women’s football, Kelly Simmons, stated:
“We are delighted to announce our landmark partnership with Barclays and are looking forward to them joining us on a journey to transform the future of women’s football. Their record, multimillion-pound commitment will impact all levels of the game and will support our ambition to make the Barclays FA Women’s Super League the world’s most successful league, on and off the pitch.”
The announcement of the sponsorship deal follows a number of big recent announcements:
- Adidas will pay all its athletes on the winning Women’s World Cup team the same performance bonuses as their male counterparts;
- Nike as match ball supplier of UEFA women’s competitions;
- Lucozade partnership with the England women’s team; and
- Gatorade sponsorship of Manchester City’s women’s team.
Women’s football has increased in popularity in recent years.
The women’s FA Cup final in 2018 was watched by a record 45,000 people at Wembley Stadium, whilst approximately 2 million people watched it on television. The attendance was the largest at the women’s FA Cup final ever and an increase of 10,000 on the 2017 final. In 2014, the attendance at the final was just over 15,000.
The FA announced in 2018 that it wants to double the attendance of teams in the Women’s Super League from approximately 1,000 to 2,000.
The current Women’s Super League comprises eleven clubs. The majority of the top English clubs have a team in the Women’s Super League including, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Everton and West Ham United.
Manchester United formed a women’s football team in 2018, competing in the second division of women’s football in England, the Women’s Championship.
The general trend in football is that the influx of external money has contributed to the improvement of the league which the money has supported. This is particularly evident in the improvement of the English Premiership, which has seen significant performance-related improvements since its inception in 1992. Premier League teams now attract some of the best football players in the world and frequently reach the later stages of European competitions.
It is hoped that the increase in external sponsorship of the Women’s Super League will produce the same effects!
Jonathan Copping may be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@stoneking.co.uk’