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Women's Super League sets target of becoming first £1 billion female league

Women's Super League sets target of becoming first £1 billion female league
© Reuters
Women's Super League chair Dawn Airey outlines her vision for the competition to become the first £1 billion women's league in the world.

Women's Super League chair Dawn Airey has said that she believes the division can be the world's first £1 billion female league.

The popularity of women's football has been growing significantly in recent years, with the success of the England national team a key driving factor.

While the Women's Super League revenue is dwarfed by that of the men's game, Airey revealed at the RTS Cambridge Convention that she has developed a 10-year business plan for the WSL to be earning annual revenues of £1 billion.

"One of the stated goals that we have is to make this league the first billion pound women's league in the world," she said. "That is league revenue [plus] club revenue and there's no reason why we shouldn't do it.

"The whole of women's sport globally [generates] a billion dollars in revenues, from sponsorship and gates. Men's sport gets half a trillion. That's an enormous difference and it shows the enormous potential for women's sport, and women's football in particular.

"[Our £1 billion target] isn't the figure we just plucked from the air, it is based on a pretty decent and detailed business plan for over the course of the next 10 years.

"We look at the growth of attendances, we look at the growth of engagement and broadcast, we look at the increased interest in sponsorship and marketing opportunities, and then we start being more imaginative about what attending a women's game means. Not just watching the game, but everything that goes on around it - is there potential for clubs to think differently about their revenues?"

The domestic broadcast rights are currently shared between the BBC and Sky and are thought to be worth £8m a year, although that deal comes to an end after this season, providing an opportunity to extract more value from the next rights agreement.

"We will be going to market, I would like to think before the end of the year," said Airey, who also serves as chair of the Women's Championship.

"The Premier League go to market in the middle of October. It would be daft to put our rights into the market when they're in because that's going to get the primary attention. We will go in after.

"It's always interesting to see who responds to the tender but there's no reason why it can't be quite speedy. You know who the players are.

"In terms of who's interested, everybody is, as they should be. It's just a question of assessing the tenders."

The new season of the WSL kicks off on Sunday, October 1 with Chelsea the defending champions.

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