After ten years of operation, the Women’s Super League (WSL) has established itself as the top professional women’s football league in the world. Dawn Airey, chair of the WSL, is firm in her belief in its untapped potential.
Currently, the Football Association (FA) oversees both the WSL and its second-tier counterpart, the Women’s Championship. A groundbreaking initiative, however, is currently under progress that aims to give these leagues independence and firmly places them in the hands of the clubs, with the help of a new private equity firm, NewCo.
Dawn Airey now has renewed trust and is looking forward to a historic moment when the WSL becomes the first women’s league in the world to achieve a billion-pound value. This bold goal was expressed in advance of the upcoming season, which is set to start in early October.
A turning point was reached in 2021 when the 12-team league signed its first commercial broadcasting agreement with BBC and Sky Sports, generating an estimated revenue of eight million pounds a year. The FA’s Director of Women’s Football, Kelly Simmons, celebrated this multimillion-pound agreement as a “landmark” accomplishment.
A reorganisation of power will take place as NewCo gets ready to take over the operation of both divisions beginning with the 24/25 season, replicating the Premier League’s 20–club structure.
This change is being driven by the growing interest in women’s football, which has been sparked by the Lionesses’ outstanding achievements in recent international competitions. As chair, Airey is adamant in her belief that the WSL, in partnership with the Women’s Championship, is set to become the most profitable women’s football league on a global level.
Additionally, Airey discussed her vision with reporters at the launch of the upcoming WSL season, highlighting the need for a strong relationship with the lower levels of women’s football. She emphasised her disapproval of a revenue-sharing arrangement similar to what is used in the English Football League’s lower divisions and the men’s Premier League.
After this season, the league will begin looking for a new domestic broadcasting arrangement as its current deal with the BBC and Sky Sports expires. In order to prevent competing attention, Airey emphasised that negotiations for this new agreement would only begin after the Premier League had finalised its broadcast rights package.
The combined profits of clubs from the WSL and the Women’s Championship serve as the foundation for Airey’s ambitious billion-pound goal. The Women’s Championship, which is a semi-professional league at the moment, receives a 25 per cent cut of the money allotted to England’s premier women’s football division.
Airey stressed the importance of the Women’s Championship and reaffirmed its essential place in the network. She highlighted that the billion-pound revenue target was a deliberate, well-thought-out objective.
These factors lead to a review of the importance of watching women’s matches and present clubs with fresh opportunities to rethink their income plans, a possibility that applies to both the Championship and the Super League.
The future of the women’s game looks bright with these developments in the women’s football business environment. It might undergo a huge change in the upcoming years, changing drastically for the better.