Breakaway football leagues: the women have done it. What next?



By Tony Attwood

An article in SportsPromedia sets it all out: the FA has been running the two top leagues in women’s football for over 10 years, but now the women have had enough.   So the League is leaving the FA and the league will from now on be run by the clubs in the league without the FA poking its nose in. 

Part of the idea relates to a better distribution of the money that the league and the clubs earn.    The aim of that is to allow the clubs to build up from a low base and to make sure that the league is not simply dominated by the same clubs that are taking money from their owners, in order to stay ahead of the opposition.

Also part of the attraction is the way that in the United States the National Women’s Soccer League has managed to secure a broadcast deal that is said to be worth around £200m as well as the clubs having an array of sponsors.

There are several implications of this.   First, it is quite possible that the rest of Europe will slowly follow suit.   Second it is also likely that the Premier League (itself a breakaway from the old Football League) will feel more inclined to flex its muscles over the ongoing Manchester City affair, as we have been mentioning of late.

France, Germany, Mexico and Brazil are also planning independence from outside regulators, according to some reports.

However, this move is contrary to the move in England for there to be a government regulator of football.   That plan has been dropped for the moment but it is said by the main political parties that it will be reintroduced after the general election in July.

Thus there could be an almighty tug of war between the drive for independence by the clubs, and the demand for regulation from the government.

This in turn would set England on an utterly opposed route from the rest of Europe.  Elsewhere clubs would be free to run their sport as they wish.  In England they will be running their sport as the government wishes.

There is no doubt however the independence will be attractive to all the major leagues in England, as clubs see themselves as the driving forces and as the source of the money.   Why should someone from the outside be telling them what to do, beyond the normal laws of the land?

It is also the case that over half of the leading women’s teams in the USA are not run by clubs established for men.  That too could be a pattern that might be attractive to some in England although at the moment the top PL clubs are funding their women’s team and providing the stadia in which to play.

And yet again the issue of Manchester City is coming to the fore.   If Manchester City the club is found guilty of financial chicanery in terms of the men’s team, that might well imply the same is true for the women’s team.

If Manchester City men’s team however are given a massive points deduction and sent to the Conference or below, I would imagine the other women’s clubs will continue to play Manchester C as before.   But if Manchester City find a way to get off all the charges, suspicions might be aroused that their women’s team are proceeding in the same way (although I know of no evidence for this). 

There is also the political oddity of Newcastle United Women’s team joining the league, as they are a club financed by the Public Investment Fund of a country where sex equality is simply not known.

One of the other factors surrounding the women’s game is that Chelsea have been looking to sell off part of the ownership in their women’s team, having won the league for the fifth season running.  It is yet again a move toward more and more independence.

And all the time there is the shadow hanging over Manchester City. If they are found repeatedly guilty in the 115 case scandal, that will not impinge on their women’s team who have been charged with nothing.   But there will be some who will see a strong connection since both clubs are owned by the City Group.   One can imagine the women’s side feeling, in such a scenario, that they are better off elsewhere.

2 Replies to “Breakaway football leagues: the women have done it. What next?”

  1. Independence, if that means no more ManC and Chelsea and maybe no more Newcastle seems on the face of it to be the best option to get shot of the alleged cheats. However there’s a couple of concerns . First up is I get the distinct impression , nothing will be done , so before the situation gets too much further , what prevents 17 clubs leaving now ? The second point is that government intervention ; will they still require the ‘home grown’ player nonsense to continue ? Do other European countries even bother? Historically , Spanish teams had a government that easily facilitated foreigners into Spain 5 minutes after rocking up Ole! they became Spanish citizens. 3rd point that’s just occurred to me in European comps who decides say if Man city enter euro comps or if they go for the breakaway Lge ? The only positive I have in this is that leaving for Arsenal could be bad news but staying could continue to get worse . Apologies for all the doom and gloom , time for my meds (rum and ginger).

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