The government has accepted every recommendation in the Karen Carney-led review of women’s football. They include supporting full professionalism of the top two divisions, a lifting of minimum standards, full unionisation of the Women’s Super League and Championship, cost controls at the top and for 3pm on Saturday to be considered as a dedicated broadcast slot for women’s football.
An implementation group of key stakeholders will meet next March and July to provide updates. “I’m encouraged that the government is providing their full backing to my review and renewing their commitment to develop women’s football in the UK and fulfil its potential to be a world-beating sport,” Carney said.
“The real work begins now. I hope the additional investment and support from the government is the boost for the FA, the incoming NewCo and other stakeholders of the game to rally around this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform domestic women’s football for generations to come.”
Carney’s review was bold in its recommendations for a sustainable game. The government approval comes at a critical junction for the professional women’s game in England, with the WSL and Championship clubs last week formally signing off on the formation of NewCo, the new company established to run the two tiers independent of the Football Association.
Highlighted in the recommendations is that scrapping the Saturday 3pm blackout to broadcast live matches for women’s football is a “viable option” that would “significantly increase its broadcast and commercial revenue”.
The government is calling on the FA, the Premier League, the EFL and broadcasters to work together to create a bespoke broadcast window for the women’s game with that slot as an option and says that if they fail to find a viable alternative slot then “there is a legitimate question about recompensing the women’s game for this missed opportunity for revenue”.
The government said it was keen to see “clear plans” in the March meeting for how the Professional Game Working Group, set up by the FA to establish NewCo, is going to move the game towards financial sustainability, saying effective financial regulation and cost controls, which the body is discussing, will be important.
It has also endorsed the idea of centralised rights, another key component of the NewCo discussions. Although there is disagreement over the power of Championship clubs on the NewCo board, the government says “the recommendation for a one-board principle between the leagues should be a priority and allow clubs to be represented in equal share”.
It said: “Independent decision-making is not only good governance, but is crucial to ensure vested interests do not drag the game to places that are not in the interest of everyone. NewCo has an opportunity to take this approach in its foundation, and we urge NewCo not to miss the opportunity.”