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FSA response to Karen Carney’s Women’s Game Review

Karen Carney MBE has today published her independent review into the future of domestic women’s football, which was commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport following a recommendation from 2021’s Fan-led Review.

The review makes ten recommendations relating to the funding of the women’s game, the “talent pathway”, broadcast matters, diversity, access to facilities and grassroots funding, and more.

The comprehensive 128-page report covers a great deal of ground and there are some specific supporter related recommendations worth highlighting.

  • All clubs should ensure that the recommendations in the Football Governance White Paper with regards to fan engagement should be delivered on with meaningful representation for fans of the women’s team.
  • Following the introduction of FA licensing requirements for clubs to have ticketing policies, the FA should review these annually and clubs should actively seek feedback from their fans on how these should be adapted.
  • Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship clubs should each implement a supporter liaison officer.
  • The FA should urgently address the lack of diversity across the women’s game – in both on and off pitch roles.
  • The FA, Premier League, English Football League and broadcasters should work together to carve out a new dedicated broadcast slot for women’s football.

With a focus on growing the game while examining its current financial health and financial sustainability for the long term, the review is of real interest to supporters and dozens of FSA affiliates and associates in the women’s game were given the opportunity to give their views to Karen Carney. The FSA also submitted evidence directly.

While not specifically supporter-related our member groups will also welcome the call for the Government to deliver on recent commitments around equal access to school sports for girls. The review also says that “everyone involved in funding grassroots facilities must come together to increase investment in order to accommodate meaningful access for women and girls”.

Deborah Dilworth, head of women’s football at the FSA, said:

“We’d like to thank Karen Carney and her team for listening to the voices of supporters and including many of the points we made in the women’s game review.

“No report is a magic bullet but we’d like to see a group created which not only represents all stakeholders in the women’s game – including supporters – but which is also tasked with taking forward the key recommendations.

“The review identifies the need for a “strategic partner” to help fund the growth of the game – we believe football as a whole can afford to support the women’s game, just as solidarity payments are distributed in the men’s game to support the entire pyramid.

“Supporter engagement is also vital throughout the game, and we welcome the review’s acknowledgment of this, as well as the recommendation to implement supporter liaison officers. We’d encourage clubs to work with their fan groups to identify the right person for that role.

“There are very real matchday issues that supporters face, such as the lack of help and support away fans encounter at domestic and international level, and we hope this review is also the first step to fixing those. 

“Supporters are part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSA, said:

“We understand why, at this stage, the review takes the view ‘that the women’s game should be given the opportunity to self-regulate rather than moving to immediate independent statutory regulation’ and we hope that the report’s optimism is well-founded. 

“However, with the future financial viability of many women’s teams so closely bound to men’s teams, the errors and wrongdoing of the past in the men’s game may, without independent regulation, be replicated in the women’s game. 

“To guard against that, the forthcoming legislation following the Fan-led Review should enable a future government to add the professional part of the women’s game to the remit of the independent football regulator if circumstances make that necessary.”

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