Karen Carney MBE to lead major review of women’s football

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries has announced that former British and British footballer Karen Carney MBE will chair an in-depth analysis of the future of national women’s football.

The review will look at how to deliver bold and sustainable growth of women’s play at the elite and grassroots level. This will be with a particular focus on:

  • Assess the potential audience reach and growth of the game, considering the value and visibility of women’s and women’s football in England, including the potential to grow the fan base for women’s football and whether current growth still supports local talent and can be reached without overloading the infrastructure.

  • Examine the game’s financial health and its long-term financial viability. This will include exploring opportunities and ways to support women’s game commercialization, broadcast revenue opportunities, and women’s football sponsorship.

  • Examination of the structures within women’s football. This includes affiliation with men’s teams, cash prizes, the need for women’s football to adhere to the administrative requirements of the men’s game; and assess the adequacy, quality, accessibility and prevalence of the facilities available to women’s and women’s football for the growth and sustainability of the game.

To kick off the review, the Football Association (FA) will launch a request for evidence in the coming weeks.

Carney will lead a series of group meetings with industry experts across the country. She will be supported in the collection and analysis of evidence by senior officials from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the FA. A full report is expected to be released early next year, with the government formally responding shortly thereafter.

The news comes after Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses won UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 in July, a series of government measures in support of women’s football, and ahead of the women’s Super League season starting on 10 September.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

The spectacular performance of the Leonesse shows how far we have reached the top of the women’s game. While it is right to celebrate and reflect on that success, we need equal emphasis on improving participation, job opportunities, business investment and media visibility.

We want to make sure that everyone can enjoy the benefits of team sport and that there is a solid infrastructure to support women’s and women’s football for the future. A thorough review of the game will help ensure it’s here in the long run.

Karen Carney MBE said:

In recent years, the game has grown significantly and at a rapid pace. Sure, this is an exciting time, but it is urgent to ensure that there are processes and structures in place that protect the interest of the game and the people who work there. I have always said that sport must be built on a solid foundation to give it lasting success in a sustainable way.

For me this is a defining period for sport and this review will be at the heart of it all.

We need to take advantage of these powerful moments and we can look back to 2022 as the year we made great strides in the growth of the game.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

We have been clear that we are right behind the growth of women’s and women’s sport in every aspect, from the grassroots down to the elite level.

National women’s football has made significant progress in recent years. However, the pandemic has highlighted shallow resources within the elite game, which have the potential to impact its long-term growth.

This review will take an in-depth look at how to grow the game to the elite and grassroots level, as we push to level the playing field.

During his career, Carney made 144 appearances for England and represented Team GB at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He enjoyed club careers for Arsenal, Chicago Red Stars, Birmingham City and Chelsea. She is now a respected voice in men’s and women’s football and works as a broadcaster and columnist for The Guardian, ITV Sport and Sky Sports, in addition to her role as a sponsorship consultant for Visa.

Women’s football has made significant progress in recent years, with UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 highlighting changing attitudes towards women’s sport. Records have been broken, with a world record audience of over 365 million people, 574,875 tickets sold, nearly half of all female ticket holders and nearly 100,000 children. It was sold out wherever the Lionesses played, and the final broke the attendance record for a EURO final, in both men’s and women’s games.

The launch of the Women’s Super League in 2011 generated a wave of bespoke sponsorship and broadcast rights deals. Senior male and female England players are now being paid the same match dues to represent their country, and clubs in the first two series of national football are introducing improved contracts and labor rights.

In a further long-term boost for women’s football visibility, the government recently confirmed that the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Women’s Euros have been added to the listed event regime, meaning they will continue to be made available to – television broadcasters on air.

At the grassroots level it has become the most played women’s and women’s team sport in England, with 3 million registered players and 12,000 registered teams. The government is putting gaming at the heart of its plans to level up access to sport for all, with a £ 230 million package launched to build or upgrade up to 8,000 grassroots and multi-sport football pitches in all. the UK by 2025 This funding started in March with an initial £ 25 million benefiting over 170 facilities. Following the EURO 2022 final, the Secretary of Culture also announced that some of these venues will be named after the 23 players in and around each of their respective cities or places of origin that have shaped their football careers, in honor of their achievements. . Further details will be announced in the coming weeks.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government stood by women’s football. It provided £ 2.9 million in grants to the Women’s Super League and the FA Women’s Championship to cover essential costs and allow for the completion of their seasons through the Sport Survival Package, but there were still delays in the return of the competition compared to the men’s game, due to lack of investment by football authorities in COVID-19 tests for women’s game. The return of spectators has also been slower, numerous sponsorship deals have been withdrawn and a number of clubs have suffered financial difficulties.

The fan-led review of football governance for men’s professional football recommended a review of the women’s game. Those who provided evidence highlighted the need for women’s football to be adequately funded, including the commercialization of women’s football, opportunities for the game to benefit from broadcast revenue, and the implementation of a stronger administrative structure. Concerns were also expressed that the sport had failed to keep up with its popularity and there was a danger that demand would not be met.


Notes to editors:

  • The terms of reference for the national women’s football review are here.

  • The women’s game review will not focus on elements shared with the fan-led review of football governance, such as the club’s legacy, owner and manager testing, club financial sustainability and independent regulation, such as results the fan’s guided review will apply equally to women’s football.

  • The fan-led review of football governance recommended that “given the many, but interrelated, issues of a meaningful future for women’s football that must be successfully addressed and resolved … women’s football should be treated with equality and subjected to a dedicated review “. He said that “there is enormous potential for the game to grow further, but to make it a reality requires a serious investment in women’s football, its finances, infrastructure and game administration.” The full government answer can be found here.

  • The government’s sports survival package has provided millions of pounds to protect the future of women’s football, netball, rugby, badminton and basketball during the pandemic. This joins clubs and sporting entities that benefit from the multi-billion dollar government support package that has been made available to the industry. More details on women’s football here and here.

  • The government invested £ 4.6 million for the staging of EURO 2022.

  • Further details on the implementation of reforms to ensure the long-term sustainability of men’s football will be published in due course via a white paper.

  • The Women’s European Championships were one of several high profile sporting events hosted in the UK in the coming months that will put women’s sport at center stage. The Birmingham Commonwealth Games 2022 was the first major multisport event in history to feature more women’s medals than men’s. The second edition of The Hundred kicks off (after the first, the most watched women’s sports competition on television in 2021), the World Gymnastics Championships in Liverpool and the Rugby League World Cup in October and November (where the men’s competitions, and wheelchair events will take place simultaneously) will take place later this year, further bolstering the UK’s credentials as a preferred destination for major sporting events in the world.

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