I realised when I published these blogs that I would occasionally have to write an update taking account of a development that would strengthen (or rebut) my argument. What I did not expect was that there would be such a development the very next day!
But on 22/3/21 the following story breaks…
Picking a few main points…
From next season, WSL games will be shown live across the BBC and Sky in the multi-million-pound deal.
England and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton told BBC Sport it was an “amazing step forward” for women’s football and the players can’t wait to “show the world what an unbelievable league we have”……..”I think this will really push our league to be the best in Europe, if not the world.”
Simmons, the FA’s director of the women’s professional game, said the deal combined two major priorities for the FA: increasing visibility of the WSL, as well as attracting investment to further develop the quality of the league.
Kathryn Swarbrick, the FA’s commercial and marketing director, added: “This is a moment to celebrate – a watershed moment in the WSL future – with just an incredible outlook.
“That reach, combined with this huge investment into the game, makes us really confident that this is going to be a huge leap forward in achieving our ambition of having the world’s best domestic women’s professional league.”
So in terms of my analysis we have…
- A continuation of the ‘best league in the world’ rhetoric – which now includes the number of games that are televised apparently.
- The development of the strategy I outlined in https://movingtoyshop.com/2021/03/21/ten-years-of-the-blues-part-2/ — The immediate result of these changes was that money flowed into the game, which then reinforced the new strategy, which led to yet more money – a vicious (or, in the FA’s view, triumphant) circle. Or as Kelly Simmons puts it the deal combined two major priorities for the FA: increasing visibility of the WSL, as well as attracting investment to further develop the quality of the league.
- Absolutely no mention of Women’s Football at any level ‘below’ (I actually dislike using this hierarchical term – it will have been quite clear that from my fan’s point-of-view the WSL is not at the top) the WSL. Obviously, if some of this money is directed back to WSL clubs the gulf will increase.
- A new element is the comparison of the WSL with other professional Women’s leagues – the article specifies the US Soccer and Basketball! Leagues. I really do find myself – for once – at a loss for words.
- The developing and increasing mirroring of the Men’s Game. The deal with Sky makes this very obvious.
- And – above all – absolutely no mention of fans. We are not a priority or even claimed to be so. In fact, this deal will remove the game further for those who are not Sky subscribers and do not have the resources to become ones. Family-friendly? ‘My Arrse’ as a member of the Royle family might have remarked.
I do not know whether to be gratified that the FA should have so dramatically confirmed many of my arguments or depressed about the future of the WSL. But remember there will be lots of Championship/Tier 3/4 Women’s Football next season. No subscription required. More entertaining and the clubs and players are much more in need of your support. So get to a game next season.