Suzanne Wrack: Leveling the playing field in the Women’s Super League
There has been a lot of investment in the women’s game in England and it is more competitive – but there is still a huge gap between the biggest clubs in the Women’s Super League (WSL) and the rest. The likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are so far ahead. While a leading striker like Chelsea’s Sam Kerr earns upwards of £300,000 a year, the average WSL salary is reportedly around a tenth of that.
You also have a real gap between the WSL and the rest. Look at Leicester: they have the backing of a major Premier League team and when they got promoted to the WSL they invested heavily, have a really good young coach, new training facilities and play in the main stadium. Everything was arranged for them to succeed. But they were on the end of some heavy defeats. It is a reflection of the gap.
In order to make the league more competitive, there is a case to be made that clubs should commit money to a central pot which is then distributed, rather than investing in their own sides. It can quickly make a difference. At the moment it feels like we are on a journey towards Premier League Mark II. That’s because they want to get the big clubs on board to accelerate growth – but this tide isn’t going to lift all boats, that’s what you need. There is a danger that they will build the castle without a foundation.
Suzanne Wrack is women’s football correspondent for the Guardian and the Observer and the author of A Woman’s Game: The Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Women’s Football
Faye Carruthers: England should bid to host the next World Cup
There is already a joint bid between Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands for the 2027 World Cup. But due to the success of the Euros, it is set to be a hotly contested bidding process. And England should be part of it.
It is important for people to see that the country is keen to host, to maintain momentum. With the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year, the time difference means that for fans over here, it’s not going to get as much traction as this home tournament has.
The Lionesses have secured a number of new fans because of what they have achieved this summer. Success breeds support, which carries over to the home game and then further down the participation pyramid.
Hosted by Faye Carruthers the Guardian’s Women’s Football Weekly podcast. Listen to the reaction edition on Monday morning here.
Louise Taylor: Make the next school year a watershed for the girls’ game
Today, only 44 per cent of secondary schools offer girls and boys equal access to football during the school day. Only 40 percent of schools offer identical football opportunities to girls on evenings, weekends and holidays. If we are to produce the best possible England teams for the future – not to mention have a healthier and happier female population – that needs to change.
Right now, far too much potential female talent is being overlooked and untapped. We have to hope head teachers across the country are energized by the euro and stop paying lip service to sporting equality for girls.
Louise Taylor is the Guardian’s north-east football correspondent
Sophie Downey: We should just market it
I’ve followed the women’s game for 10 years and it’s hugely different from where it was. That 9.3 million viewers watched the semi-final between England and Sweden is just ridiculous. But, crucially, it is now about maintaining that coverage because, as we have seen in the past, there is a drop in attendance and coverage after major tournaments. We have a responsibility as media to make sure the game is at the forefront of people’s minds for the next year.
The way we have marketed women’s football in the past has not always been right. For a long time we have targeted young children, specifically girls. We mixed up the participation element with the attendance element. We have to realize that there are so many different demographics to talk to, and we should just market it over the next year, because obviously the demand is there.
Sophie Downey is a freelance football writer and regular contributor to the Guardian’s women’s football newsletter, Moving the Goalposts
Jen Offord: Don’t lose what makes the women’s game so special
In theory, it will be possible for women’s football to be its own game entirely, with its own clubs and its own structure that is not linked to the men’s game. In practice, I don’t think that’s going to happen: it’s going to be the ‘one club’ approach that continues, with women’s teams being part of the same organisations. It will mean that more money goes to the women’s game – and women should have equal access to these resources. However, the idea of ”one club” is disingenuous. The teams are not valued equally – there is a clear hierarchy.
Money is part of what can be so toxic in the men’s game – it creates resentment among the fans, players become so wealthy that they are almost seen as not a real person and cannot be touched by abuse. Whereas the women’s game has a much nicer vibe: more festive, less bitterness. Nothing to do with middle-aged men shouting abuse at boys young enough to be their sons. I would have no problem taking my daughter to a game when she is old enough, while I might with the men’s game.
I feel like the women’s game has a freedom and a passion that we don’t always see in the men – like they really want to be there. And it’s a joy to watch. As the game grows, I really hope we never lose it.
Jen Offord hosts the Standard Issue podcast and wrote Year of the Robin, an account of Charlton Athletic’s struggle during a pandemic season. Read her recent Guardian post, The Euros prove it: women’s football is not like men’s – and that’s a good thing