The Premier League’s £3m investment to transform the women’s football pyramid

Newcastle United celebrated a record-breaking crowd at St James' Park this FA WNL season (Image: Richard Callis/SPP)

Newcastle United celebrated a record-breaking crowd at St James’ Park this FA WNL season (Image: Richard Callis/SPP)

By Rachel Steinberg

A £3million grant from the Premier League is set to change the pyramid of women’s football.

The English men’s top flight will allocate £1million per season to the FA Women’s National League (FA WNL), tiers three and four of the women’s domestic game, to support their new strategy launched on Tuesday.

The Women’s National League has also made a formal application to the Women’s Football Board to add an additional promotion spot, which could result in two teams earning a Championship spot as early as next season if approved.

FA WNL Management Committee chair Carol West is hoping the success of Saturday’s championship play-offs can at least get the conversation going.

“Suppressing progression is contrary to what the strategies are for trying to progress,” West said.

“Of course that depends on whether the WSL and championship board and the clubs decide to do so. So hopefully the success of the weekend[’s final] is that kind of catalyst for this launch of the strategy to move it forward and obviously a catalyst for change by realizing that going from stage two to stage three just isn’t the case [enough].

“This is grossly unfair and goes against strategy and what we are trying to achieve.

“I pointed out that it’s not healthy for the game. Clubs enter a new season at tier three knowing that even if they finish as champions they have minimal chance of being promoted.

“I don’t think it’s healthy for second-place play for clubs to go into the season knowing the threat is minimal and all they have to do is be the second-worst team to go to avoid the descent.”

Saturday’s play-off at Stockport County’s Edgeley Park was eventually won by second division side Southampton FC, coached by former England international Marieanne Spacey-Cale, who won 91 caps for England.

The Southern Premier Division side have won 22 of 26 games this season while their opponents, Wolverhampton Wanderers, have won 18 of 24 in the Northern Premier Division.

The play-off, broadcast on BBC platforms for the first time in league history, sparked passionate calls on social media for pyramid reform at the end of a season West agreed was unlike any other.

“It was the biggest weekend for the league in years,” she said. “Sky Sports was there. The media box was full. We also have several radio stations reporting about it. There was a huge amount of media attention and rightly so.”

Investing in the Premier League will support each strand of the eight pillar strategy, with proposed initiatives ranging from coach education to hiring consultants to work in specific areas, offering bespoke support across a six division league, with an additional reserve detachment of five divisions. that varies greatly.

Some sides, such as Wolves and Newcastle United, who played in the fourth-tier league earlier this month with 20,241 fans attending their first game at St .

The National League sees no sponsorship or broadcast deal money from a £24million deal for Sky Sports and the BBC, with WSL sponsor Barclays also appearing as the first title sponsor for the Championship next season.

That’s why West loves the FA Director of Women’s Football Baroness Sue Campbell’s analogy – ‘making sure the head doesn’t leave the body’ – in relation to stages one and two and the rest of football as women’s football continues to grow.

“It’s really important that we can make sure our clubs are ready for promotion, that we can support them,” she said.

“Once you focus on moving up to professional sport, the club becomes an entity that has to operate on a commercial and professional basis, while amateur clubs don’t have to.

“There is a lot to be done about that, which is why the Premier League money is so important.

“Without the funding, the strategy would mean nothing. We’re a big league and we have to squeeze every penny out of that million pounds a year.”

Leave a Comment