- Leagues, teams, competitions and events seeking investment invited to apply
- UK women’s sport industry expected to be worth more than UK£1bn a year by 2030
The UK government has unveiled a new investment scheme designed to bring together rights holders and fuel growth in women’s sport.
The Department for Business and Trade’s (DBT) ‘Women’s Sports Investment Accelerator’, launched in association with Deloitte’s Sports Business Group and supported by the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport, will run for a year starting from autumn 2023.
Rights holders who are part of the programme will be provided with a series of sessions offering market insights, industry contacts and networking events, alongside mentoring schemes for those seeking investment.
The application process is open to rights holders of any UK-based women’s sports leagues, teams, competitions or events aiming to attract investment and boost their growth. Applications must be submitted by 8th September.
The DBT said the programme would be made available at no cost to taxpayers, with all speakers and mentors providing their time and expertise on a pro bono basis and the scheme being delivered through DBT’s partnership with Deloitte, which is providing event space and facilitating several of the scheme sessions.
English soccer’s top-flight Women’s Super League (WSL) and the Netball Super League were among the competitions sounded out as potential beneficiaries from the scheme.
The DBT added that the women’s sport industry is expected to be worth more than UK£1 billion (US$1.3 billion) a year by 2030.
“We want to make the UK the world’s top destination for women’s sport investment, and with this new scheme we can build on the Lionesses’ fantastic World Cup run to help attract investment in women’s sport’s next success stories,” said Nusrat Ghani, minister for industry and economic security.
“This is an open goal for women’s sports leagues, teams and competitions looking for backing and will give rightsholders the tools they need to secure investment and drive growth.”
Lisa O’Keefe, secretary general for the IWG on Women and Sport, added: “The Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator is a fantastic initiative for the UK and one which the IWG is very pleased to support.
“This year has been exciting for women’s sport around the globe, and we’ve seen some superb performances on the field of play and fanbase growth off it. The standard has risen, and the increased long-term investment has undoubtedly played a part in this.
“The Accelerator pilot programme will help women’s sports teams and leagues capitalise on this opportunity and help push forward women’s sport.”
While the programme is set to provide a boost for UK women’s sport, elsewhere, the entire Women’s National League management committee has resigned after a dispute about scheduling the 2023/24 season’s opening weekend on the same day as the 2023 Fifa Women’s World Cup final.
A Women’s National League spokesperson said: “The FA Women’s National League board has regrettably accepted the resignation of the FA Women’s National League Management Committee. The board have asked The FA to put in place the necessary services to ensure that the league and the clubs are best supported as we move forward into the new season.”
The Women’s National League consists of a mixture of amateur and semi-professional clubs, who had agreed to play the opening day of the campaign on 20th August, meaning the fixtures clashed with the England versus Spain game. Supporters had set up a petition calling for matches to be moved after the Lionesses reached the final.
The Football Association (FA), English soccer’s national governing body, is now set to be responsible for the running of the six National League divisions. The FA already organises the WSL and second-tier Women’s Championship, though a decision is due to be made on who will independently run both leagues in the future.
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