Reece Land: If things don't change, women’s football won't be sustainable
This month, the Women’s Sports Alliance will be meeting with the FA to discuss a collaboration to drive women’s football forward. The meeting was originally due to take place this coming Monday but has been pushed back a couple of weeks due to coronavirus.
During the meeting, we’ll be presenting the Women’s Sports Alliance Strategy for Sustainability – a strategic report which details the threats facing women’s football in England and provides solutions which can be implemented to move the game forward. The report covers what we believe clubs need to be doing, players need to be doing, and governing bodies need to be doing in order to make women’s football first sustainable, and then ideally self-sustainable.
The report covers what we believe clubs need to be doing, players need to be doing, and governing bodies need to be doing in order to make women’s football first sustainable, and then ideally self-sustainable.
The report is based on evidence we’ve gathered a number of ways. We conducted numerous surveys, speaking to players and key staff in the Women’s Super League, Championship and National League. The aim was to identify threats, work out the issues underlying these threats, and then consider how to address these threats. We knew and found that each club will be facing individual challenges and part of our report is providing a sustainable and achievable solution.
In the report, we’ve analysed the financial situations of just about every club. In a lot of cases, the figures are astounding. There are clubs running at massive losses – there are huge disparities between turnover figures and outlay.
We believe a lot of people will read the report and be shocked at how bad things actually are. But that’s not the point of it. We’re not trying to expose the sector. The point is to identify where women’s football is falling down, work out how to rectify it, and put firm actions in place to do so.
The strategy the WSA have put together can be implemented by any women’s football club, whether independent or attached to a men’s team. It doesn’t need a marketing team to implement it: it needs one person that’s willing to work with us. I think a lot of clubs will look at the strategy and ask what they’ve got to lose by trying it. We’ll provide them with support, and they’ll have a point of contact to call on when needed.
I think a lot of clubs will look at the strategy and ask what they’ve got to lose by trying it. We’ll provide them with support, and they’ll have a point of contact to call on when needed.
We can’t put a timeframe on how long it will take for a club to become sustainable – it depends on the individual circumstances of the club and how they adopt the strategy – but we believe that within three months of working with us and implementing the strategy clubs will start seeing a difference in their revenue.
The surveys we did with players and key staff identified several areas for improvement, but there was one area in particular that stood out. Personally, I believe if this one key area doesn’t change, women’s football will seriously struggle to be sustainable.
Over the coming weeks the Women’s Sports Alliance will be providing more information about the strategy, including what this one key area is, and how we intend to move forward with it.