In a groundbreaking move for women's football in England, the UK government has thrown its full support behind the comprehensive recommendations outlined in the Karen Carney-led review. The report, released in July 2023, aimed at improving standards and fostering the sustainable growth of women's football, has received resounding approval from the government.
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Professionalization Takes Center Stage
At the heart of the government's endorsement is a resolute commitment to the full professionalization of the top two tiers, the Women's Super League (WSL), and the Championship. This seismic shift represents a bold stride towards creating a fiercely competitive and commercially viable landscape for women's football in England.
Saturday 3 pm Blackout Breakthrough
One of the standout recommendations that has received the government's unequivocal support is the call for a dedicated broadcast slot for women's football during the hallowed Saturday 3 pm blackout period. This move, deemed a "viable option," holds the potential to significantly elevate the commercial and broadcast revenue for the women's game, offering a coveted spotlight in the saturated world of sports broadcasting.
Implementation Group and NewCo Take the Reins
To ensure the seamless execution of these visionary recommendations, an implementation group, comprising key stakeholders, is slated to convene in March and July of the coming year. This collaborative effort underscores the urgency and gravity attached to this unprecedented opportunity.
Additionally, the government has thrown its support behind the formation of NewCo, an independently club-owned organization set to assume control of the WSL and Championship from the 2024-25 season. This transition marks a pivotal moment in the professional women's game, aligning with the overarching vision for the sport's evolution.
Financial Sustainability and Collaboration at the Forefront
Acknowledging the financial intricacies of the game, the government emphasizes the need for clear plans regarding the Professional Game Working Group's endeavors to steer NewCo toward financial sustainability. Financial regulation and cost controls emerge as critical components, underscoring the government's commitment to ensuring the enduring prosperity of women's football.
Furthermore, the government's backing extends to the principle of centralized rights and the establishment of a one-board structure between leagues. This endorsement emphasizes the importance of equal representation and collaborative decision-making among clubs across different tiers, fostering a united front in the pursuit of shared goals.
Board of Women's Sports: A Vision Beyond Football
To address the broader challenges and opportunities outlined in the review, the government is set to establish a separate Board of Women's Sports in the new year. This forward-thinking initiative aims to bring together industry leaders, encouraging collaboration, sharing best practices, and accelerating the growth of women's sport beyond the realms of football.
Carney and Government: A Unified Vision
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, expressing gratitude to Karen Carney for delivering a clear blueprint, emphasized the government's commitment to delivering equal access and sustained commercial success for the women's game. In response, Carney, fueled by the government's backing, acknowledged the real work that lies ahead and urged stakeholders to seize this moment to revolutionize domestic women's football for generations to come.