As the PA news agency is aware, the Football Association has set a goal by August 2024 for the Women’s Super League and Championship to operate under an independent, club-owned and club-run structure.
Plans to get out of the current FA direct management model of the two top teams in English women’s football have been in the works for some time.
The move follows a series of consultations with a working group of 10 WSL and Championship executives, chaired by Arsenal chief executive Vinay Venkatesham, set up to manage the next phase of the professional women’s game.
Baroness Sue Campbell, FA Director of Women’s Football, said: “I truly believe we have made incredible progress. There was a real recognition that the women’s game needs to be managed differently, played differently, and I think we had some really honest and exciting conversations.
“We have a meeting scheduled with all 24 CEOs (WSL and Championship) in June and it’s amazing again.”
England did not have a fully professional women’s league until 2018. The game has grown exponentially since then, and in many ways has been further accelerated by the Lionesses’ triumph at the European Championship last summer.
Other members of the working group include Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish, whose team competes in the women’s league, and Manchester United director Patrick Stewart.
Thank you to everyone who stayed for the end-of-season celebrations and awards after yesterday’s game. So good to see Pan packed. Special Club pic.twitter.com/LJ5Pwv16ag
— Maggie Murphy (@MaggieMrphy) May 1, 2023
Lewes chief executive Maggie Murphy and London City Lionesses chairman and founder Diane Calligan represent non-men’s sides of the championship.
It’s a predicament that leaves their organizations with unique needs, different from those of resource-rich Premier League sides like Manchester City’s COO Omar Berrada.
While there may be trade-offs to be made between clubs with vastly different missions, goals and budgets, Campbell promised that the direction of the women’s game would be “very different in nature and form from the men’s game, because I think it’s really important.”
Thanks to all 7⃣7⃣,3⃣9⃣0⃣ of you who did #WomenFACup the ending is so special pic.twitter.com/sH2aJh15Kg
— Women’s FA Cup Vitality (@VitalityWFACup) May 15, 2023
The conclusion of the next campaign will also mark the end of the FA’s landmark three-season contract with the BBC and Sky Sports, believed to be worth around £24m, and internal negotiations are underway to determine the best approach to negotiate the next iteration.
Many milestones have been reached this season. All but one of the WSL clubs, West Ham, hosted matches at their main stadiums, and this weekend’s FA Cup final broke the world record for a women’s home club match with 77,390 spectators at Wembley.
Campbell celebrated these and other successes, but says the FA is determined to continue breaking new ground, including providing clubs with an appropriate and ‘friendly’ environment and ‘the right environment for fans’.
She added: “This is a real statement about where the professional women’s game has gone. However, I do not want to be complacent, because we still have a long way to go.
“We have made a lot of progress, but I want to emphasize that we still have a long way to go in terms of regularly getting numbers through the gate. We definitely created momentum.”