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Majority of WSL clubs ‘against’ Premier League takeover

Guro Reiten of Chelsea shoots during the Barclays FA Women's Super League match against Manchester City (Photo by Visionhaus)

The majority of clubs in the English Women’s Super League are against a potential takeover by the men’s Premier League, it has been reported.

Clubs in the top-tier women’s competition would prefer the league to be run independently, according to a report in The Guardian.

It has previously been reported that the Premier League is considering taking control of the WSL from the Football Association (FA), which launched the competition in 2011. Premier League clubs have agreed to conduct a feasibility study into the matter but it appears that their WSL counterparts would be against the move.

The Guardian’s report stated that the majority of the WSL’s 12 clubs feel the league would “play second fiddle” to the Premier League and areas such as commercialisation would be favoured ahead of wider investment in player and coach development.

Clubs are said to feel that the independent running of the WSL would provide women’s football with greater sustainability going forward.

The newly-formed WSL board, which includes representatives from Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and Durham, will ultimately make the decision on how the league will be run. The FA established the board to oversee the future strategy and policy of the women’s game in England and recommend the best way forward to the FA board.

The UK media rights for the WSL from the 2021-22 season are currently up for grabs, and back in March the FA appointed Women’s Sports Group as its exclusive consultant on the sale. Women’s Sports Group was launched last year to increase the profile of women’s sport and is led by Dame Heather Rabbatts, chair of strategic communications agency Vero Communications, and media-rights consultant David Kogan.

Pay-television broadcaster BT Sport is the main domestic rights-holder to the league in a three-season deal running from 2018-19 to 2020-21. BT had been due to show at least 30 live matches last season from the WSL, FA Women’s Continental League Cup and the Women’s FA Cup. Public-service broadcaster the BBC also holds rights to show one live match per week on BBC iPlayer, the ‘Red Button’ and streamed online.