Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? This time 100 years ago, the Football Association (FA) banned women playing football on FA pitches, effectively hindering any further progression of the women’s game. Yet 100 years later, Barclays’, one of the world’s wealthiest and most recognised banks has invested £30 million into the flourishing sport, that is women’s football.
This isn’t a new relationship between Barclays’ and women’s football, they became the Women’s Super Leagues (WSL) headline sponsor in 2019. However, this new deal will see the existing relationship, extended until 2025, not only that it marks a doubling of the investment money.
Women’s football is one of the fastest growing sports on the planet and is enhancing its popularity with each year that passes. Whilst it isn’t known exactly how this investment is going to be divided amongst the sport, it is known that some of the the money will go a long way to enhancing grassroots football, making it more accessible at a school level to young girls and bolstering the training and coaching support that’s already on offer. It is also hoped that the money may go some way to narrowing the gap between the WSL and the Championship, thus facilitating the possibility of more Championship players turning professional. Whilst the WSL has made great strides in recent years the Championship Clubs need further funding in order to bring on more staff and pay their players enough money to allow them to play full-time without the need of additional employment. By doing this, the gap between the two leagues should be shortened, hopefully making the game even more competitive.
This investment deal comes as another positive to the women’s game, following the BBC’s announcement in March this year, that they have launched a 3 year broadcasting deal with the WSL. This, first of its kind deal for women’s football in the UK, will see the BBC broadcasting the WSL on terrestrial television. Thus, undoubtedly enhancing the profile and burgeoning interest in this fantastic sport.
Barclays has a significant association with football, having sponsored men’s top tier football in the Uk for over twenty years. Bringing their knowledge and experience to the women’s game, shows how far the game has come in recent years, due to the tireless work of so many both on and off the pitch, and how far it can go with the guaranteed support of such a committed backer.
I have no doubt Lily Parr would approve.
Becky French is the Co-Founder of Out and About LGBTQ