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The business of football
The business of football

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4 Women’s professional football: the business challenges of growing the game

The number of women and girls playing football has grown steadily since the turn of the millennium and it is now the most popular female sport in England. This popularity has transformed the commercial potential of a previously much maligned and marginalised sport. Yet such growth has created several business challenges, not least the challenge of developing and sustaining a professional women’s league where all players and coaches are full-time, paid employees.

Unlike men’s professional football, which is organised by the Premier League and the Football League, women’s professional football is being developed by The Football Association. Without the history associated with the men’s game professional football for women is like starting a new business.

In the next activity you will start to identify some of the challenges associated with developing a fully professional women’s league.

Activity 6 Developing women’s professional football

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Can you identify how the business challenges associated with developing women’s professional football are different to men’s professional football?

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Discussion

Women’s professional football is like a new business, so it can be thought of as a ‘start-up’ business. For any start-up one major challenge is identifying and growing a market for their product. Only be growing a market, and an audience of customers, can sufficient revenue be generated to sustain the business in the long-term. While men’s professional football has over 150 years of history, women’s professional football is currently in its infancy, albeit rapidly growing. It is this difference in the history between the two that presents a significant business challenge as women’s professional football grows its audience.

The Football Association has developed an ambitious strategy to grow women’s professional football between 2021 and 2024. The three aims of the strategy are:

  1. Produce and attract world-class talent
  2. Maximise and engage audiences
  3. Grow commercial revenues and financial sustainability.

In the next section you will learn about how one club, Brighton and Hove Albion, are putting this strategy into action.