Women’s football in the UK is at a turning point, that can’t be denied. The England Lionesses have sold out Wembley this year and attendances are up significantly in the Super League.
As the game continues to develop and increase in popularity, the more coverage it will get, and in turn the more sponsors.
That poses an interesting quandary. The Premier League is often criticised for how commercial it is, but then widely praised for its ability to bring in the world’s best players and allow English teams to compete with the European elite. It’s undoubted that the Super League is going to ask itself what it wants.
One key area in this will be things such as gambling sponsors. Divisive among fans, it brings in millions of pounds to clubs, and brands will be ready to back the big teams should attendances and TV figures continue to increase.
That means we could see the likes of bookmakers and, online bingo sites in particular, who attract a largely female audience, looking to sponsor stadiums, shirts and advertising space. Could we see the likes of Booty Bingo the official bingo partner of a women’s Super League team? Quite possibly.
For the most part, Super League teams carry the same shirt sponsorships as the men’s team. However, there have been instances where that’s not the case. Liverpool made a landmark deal with Avon in 2017, and while they no longer now sponsor their shirt, it was a groundbreaking move that allowed more female targeted brands into the sport.
When it comes to individual players we’re certainly seeing a rise in female footballers as the face of brands. World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe is one of the most recognisable faces in sport and has a number of deals, while Lucy Bronze signed a bumper deal following the World Cup.
That’s of course what the players want, and the more money that comes in via sponsorship, the more money clubs will earn, and the more self sufficient they, and the sport as a whole becomes.
With the Premier League ready to start pulling the strings too, taking over from the FA, it’s likely to happen. Barclays recently announced a £10million three-year deal to sponsor the Super League, while worldwide brands are now beginning to form an orderly queue.
The remainder of 2019 and 2020 are going to be huge for the women’s game and it’ll be interesting to see to just what level sponsorship deals will reach. Stadium sponsorships? Gambling partners? Stars of Chelsea, Fulham and Liverpool gracing our TV screens in adverts? We’ll just have to wait and see…