I recently attended a fundraising event for a young girl who has been selected to play for the England women’s u17 side. Now, I’m sure people don’t need telling that this is a tremendous achievement for anybody. The honour of representing your country. However, thats where the celebrations end and the hard work starts, and unfortunately, the financial issues.
I was very upset to hear that this young girl, who has worked exceptionally hard to reach the level she has, receives minimal or at time no additional funding from the FA or football association to train or to go away with the team. The travel for training alone is killer, 2 hours to training twice a week, which alone is two tanks of petrol a week, so already £80. However it gets worse, the U17 girl’s squad play away in various places, they have recently just come back from Estonia, will soon be travelling to Germany, Spain and then Belarus. It will be the job of the family to cover the majority of costs including flights and accommodation. In contrast I was speaking with a young man of the same age, who is playing at the same level, who was saying that the FA pay a considerable level of costs for his family and make it much more financially viable for a young man to come through the ranks as a young footballer.
From a personal point-of-view I believe that it is not fair for it to be harder for girls to be able to play at the top level. The women’s game is growing, like most women’s sports, and it’s time that as a sporting community we started to pay attention to this.
The crux of the issue for the FA is that their budget for Women’s football is £10,721,905.41 whilst pumping £43 million a year into grassroots football and the premier league rights have cost a whopping £5.136 billion for Sky Sports/BT sport to show live next season.
The lack of money in women’s football is highlighted by the fact that some of the plays in the women’s super league, the equivalent of the Premier league are on £50 a week. They would be better of working as a labourer or waitress. The balance between that and the lowest mens salaries is simply unacceptable. The average footballer in the premier league earns a weekly wage of £43,717 and £2,273,277 is the average players yearly salary. So in a year the average premier league squad of just over 40 players gets paid around £90,931,080 a year. So the players are paid 9 times the funding that women’s football in the UK is given as an entirety by the FA for the year, and clubs still make £155 million in profits.
The chasm in men’s and women’s football is quite frankly unacceptable and needs addressing. Women’s football is the fastest growing team sport around. Everyone needs to move with the times and start to celebrate the exceptional talent in women’s sports and lose this male dominated attitude. By no means am I saying it needs to be equalled immediately, it would be both financially impossible and just un-realistic, but the growth needs to be recognised and acted upon. The sooner we do this, the richer our sporting landscape will become.