WSL can be world’s first billion-pound women’s football league, says chair

Champions: Chelsea  (The FA via Getty Images)
Champions: Chelsea (The FA via Getty Images)

The Women’s Super League is confident of becoming the first billion pound women’s football league within 10 years, says its chair Dawn Airey.

The running of the WSL and Championship is set to be shifted from the FA to its clubs as part of a revamp of the domestic women’s game.

A new private equity firm, ‘NewCo’, is being set up to run the two leagues independently, in the way the Premier League and EFL are run in the men’s game.

NewCo will comprise a professional 12-team WSL and a semi-professional 12-team Championship.

Airey said: “One of the stated goals that we have is to make this league the first billion-pound women's league in the world. That is league revenue [plus] club revenue, and there's no reason why we shouldn't do it.”

The plans, as shared with Standard Sport, also include a fixed percentage of NewCo’s annual revenues being reinvested into the non-league game.

The FA and WSL hope to take broadcast rights to market in December, after the Premier League’s broadcast deal for next season is sewn up in October.

NewCo's TV rights are expected to be popular, with attendances at WSL games growing 170 per cent last season and 94 WSL players competing at the recent World Cup.

The governance of the new leagues remains undecided, as do the protections The FA will put in place before handing over ownership.

Baroness Sue Campbell, director of women’s Football at the FA, asserted the need for NewCo to become an “investable proposition” for potential shareholders, and revealed players would be consulted throughout the handover process and into next season.

A more affordable version of VAR, which uses fewer cameras, will be introduced to the WSL in future, but not all stadiums have the requisite facilities at present.

The FA and WSL agree VAR will only be implemented once all clubs have the appropriate facilities at their home grounds.