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New Era For Women's Football

Updated: Feb 14

Women's football in the UK is set for a revolution as the two top divisions will be owned and run by the clubs themselves.

Women's Euro finals 2022
Women's Euro finals 2022 | Wikipedia

In the 19th century, Association Football was established in England and women sought to form teams and leagues in the same way as men had done. Despite many calling for women to be banned from playing (including doctors), some determined women refused to be denied a sport they were passionate about and in 1881 Mrs Graham's XI was established in Scotland, later followed by the British Ladies Football Club in 1894.

According to the FA, the first public game played on Football League grounds took place at Crouch End, London on March 1895, which saw North beat South 7-1. The women's game has come a very long way since then and now looks set for a seismic shift.

According to Deloitte's annual football finance report, after England's historic triumph at the Euros in 2022, attendances at Women's Super League matches tripled in the 2022-23 season; while this year's Women's World Cup garnered record viewing figures in the UK. The WSL is now aiming to become, over the next 10 years, the first billion-pound women's football league in the world.

Today, WSL and the Women's Championship are under the jurisdiction of the game's governing body, the Football Association (FA). But the FA has confirmed that a new independent organisation named 'NewCo' will take over both divisions when the current season ends in May, after all 24 clubs voted in favour.

NewCo, jointly owned by all 24 clubs, was formed shortly after England reached the World Cup final in Australia last year.

Last summer Deloitte's report showed that WSL revenues had risen by 60 percent in the 2021-22 season, to a record-breaking £32 million ($40) - up from £20 million ($25m) in the previous season. This was thanks in part to "a landmark broadcast deal" between Sky Sports and the BBC, worth a reported £8 million ($10m) a year.

The decision to escape the clutches of the FA will give the women's game control over its own future and this "newfound autonomy" is being hailed as a vital moment, heralding a new era.


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