by Sylvain Jamet
Celebrations have now started following England historic third place at the FIFA WC 2015.
On the topic of getting women’s football to ride on the wave of excitement and positivity that comes with the result to grow the game, questions have been asked why Man United and Southampton do not have a Ladies/women side.
If you have a look at the excellent article from Michael Calvin in the independent, it is clearly disappointing to learn that the United Ladies team was dropped because it was not part of the core business (sic).
We know that David Moyes was also looking at it but his ill-fated time at Old Trafford cut the idea short. Note that United has a centre of excellence team for girls aged up to 17 years old that produced to players that now play in the FA WSL for Liverpool, Everton and Man City.
The fact is women’s football does not cost much in term of investment for Premier league clubs. If we look at the prize money table for 2014/15 season, we see United received £96.75m and Southampton £82.5m. We know players’ wages are crazy and need to be paid on top of operational costs but if United and Southampton would simply divert 1% on that income into a women’s football side, well they would certainly be able to compete for a UEFA WCL place straight from the start.
If we round the sum up and say United comes in with a £1,000,000 budget and Southampton with £800,000 they would probably be in the top four budgets for the FA WSL1 straight away. Then the big question would be where would they start their team? Would they be a the bottom-of-the-pyramid at level 7 in the regional leagues?
I don’t think that would make it an interesting investment.
So you would expect them to try to apply for a WSL1 or WSL2 place straight away. Licences have been awarded to teams for the 2014-18 periods so everyone will be up for renewal around 2017. This is due to winter leagues finishing in Summer 2017 and a move to a 2018 start takes time to prepare in term of logistics.
The FA is already extending the league in 2016 and 2017 to a total of 10 teams in WSL 1 and 10 in WSL 2 by 2017. Because the selection process for licensing is mainly based on money and marketing and not on sporting merit could we see United and Southampton jump the queue and land in FS WSL 1 or FA WSL 2 if they come with the appropriate budget?
After all, Manchester City got a FA WSL 1 licence back in 2014 despite finishing nowhere near the top of the 2nd division at the time, a decision that lead to the Belles demotion to WSL 2 straight after Matchday 1 of the season at the time.
So pushing for teams in the Premier league to get a Ladies side might open a big can of worms but one thing is for sure, for the women’s game to take strides forward, everyone needs to get on board.