Women’s Super League clubs are on a path to sustainability after growing revenues by 60 per cent in a year.
WSL teams’ collective income swelled from £20m to £32m in 2021-22, according to analysis by Deloitte published today.
And it is expected to have enjoyed another substantial uplift this season as WSL attendances grew by 200 per cent following England’s European Championship win.
“The women’s game achieved significant leaps in revenue in the 2021-22 season,” said Zoe Burton, director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.
“The Lionesses’ success at the Uefa Women’s Euros is pinned as an inflexion point for the popularity of women’s football, so it’s telling that even before this historic win revenues had begun to grow in the Women’s Super League.
“We have already seen new records set for attendance, viewership and the value of commercial partnerships in the 2022-23 season.
“Organisations should not be shy about the commercial opportunities available in women’s football, and we are now reaching the point where clubs can seek to maximise the value associated with the women’s game by unbundling revenue streams to target a unique fanbase.”
The WSL’s new world-leading £8m a year TV deal was the principal driver of the revenue increase in 2021-22.
Commercial income was also up and is forecast to have grown again this year with an improved title sponsorship agreement with Barclays.
Attendances exploded from an average 1,923 in 2021-22 to 5,616 this season, as crowds flocked to watch the Lionesses in domestic action following their Euro triumph last summer.
Wage costs were up 37 per cent to £25m in 2021-22, with the wages-to-revenue ratio falling from 92 per cent to 78 per cent.
And WSL teams made a collective pre-tax loss of £14m, which was largely covered by funding from their wider club.
Four clubs — Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City — accounted for 70 per cent of WSL teams’ revenue, raising concerns about a two-tier league.
“As leagues, clubs and partners look to capitalise on the growth tailwinds of women’s football, ensuring sustainable growth as well as competitive balance across leagues will be critical,” said Tim Bridge, lead partner for Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.
“In England change is afoot to support this, with the Future of Women’s Football Review setting foundations for growth in the elite women’s game.
“As with any growing league, it is important that financial sustainability sits at the heart of new regulations, which carefully consider investment incentives alongside competitive balance across the women’s game.”