Lewes FC welcomes the Government’s response to the independent review on women’s football led by Karen Carney published earlier this year.
In particular, we warmly welcome the Government’s stance with that “NewCo”, the new entity that will govern elite women’s football should have “a one board principle between the leagues” that would “allow clubs to be represented in equal share”.
We agree with the Government that “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”. We too urge NewCo not to miss this opportunity.
We also welcome the Government’s commitment to create an “implementation group composed of stakeholders across the game” which is in line with one of our recommendations from our response published in July this year.
As we said that the time, Lewes FC would be happy to take part in any such implementation group.
The Lewes FC response in July recommended equalizing FA Cup prize money and we welcomed the FA’s recent announcement that the total prize fund would be doubled, to close the gap. We do however query that the increase in funds is to be distributed entirely to the latter rounds of the FA Cup, when already better financed clubs enter the competition.
We find this decision will not facilitate the Government’s goal of using increased FA Cup money to help “provide smaller clubs in particular with additional resources to address the uplifts to minimum standards recommended in the Review”.
The Government response agrees with the independent review that “women’s professional football should ultimately aim to be financially sustainable”. As per our response earlier this year, we are disappointed that financial sustainability is set as an “ultimate objective” rather than a here and now priority.
The response acknowledges that “moving towards immediate licence criteria uplifts across the board, without unlocking increased funding, could threaten clubs’ ability to operate.”
We are disappointed that the Government “understands that some of the uplifts recommended in the Review will come at a significant cost to clubs however we do believe these are the right recommendations to protect the future of the game and those working in it.”
We believe this position may favour decision-making that facilitates the role of large men’s clubs in women’s football, who are better positioned to spend in the short-term, over the rich tapestry of existing women’s and independent clubs that have been part of the culture and history of the women’s game to date over many decades.
We would have preferred a more nuanced approach to supporting and financing the women’s football ecosystem with an understanding that demanding that men’s football clubs finance standard setting in the short term, may not actually be the best thing for the game in the medium to long-term without significant culture shift within men’s football to accommodate and understand women’s football and female footballers, staff and fans.
Once again, we underscore the importance of the independent review on women’s football led by Karen Carney, and we welcome the Government’s engagement to date. We hope that collectively we can co-create a strong, independent women’s football ecosystem that is thriving and autonomous.
To read Lewes FC’s response to the independent review, click here.