In 2022, England Lionesses captured the hearts of the nation by bagging European glory, but according to one of the brightest minds in football, they’re still a long way from catching up with the men.
The hungry side are currently in the middle of their World Cup campaign, recently securing their second win of the tournament against Denmark. And thanks to their success, girls across the country are being inspired to give the sport a try. However, they will have to continue to build on their momentum if they want to grow the game to its optimum potential.
He said: “If you look at Wimbledon, you sell match tickets for women’s and men’s tennis and they are the same, you get mixed court appearances. Okay to get three sets and five sets, but generally speaking I think the prize money should be the same because the value of the TV and sponsorship that goes into the tournament is indiscriminate.
“Whereas when you start comparing codes of team sports, like women’s and men’s football, the gulf is significant. I’m uneasy at the over-reliance of women’s teams on the male clubs. They probably aren’t making a sustainable existence unless it’s being gifted sovereign wealth. Therefore, you are building a false proposition, irrespective of how talented the women’s athletes are and how impressive it is.”
When will England Lionesses catch up with the men?
Wilson continued: “So I think we need to be really careful. I still think it’s 20 years away, before they start to really close the gap. It’s going to take a lot of commitment, a lot of funding. And it’s going to take a few really bold broadcasters to start showing the game. They’ll have to pay significant sums to show a product they would probably be better off selling for free.
“Take a sport like netball, probably on a similar growth trajectory to women’s football in terms of popularity. But the deal I think they did with Sky was through the Vitality sponsorship. So they are essentially paid for their airtime to make sure people can watch. That demonstrates how far some female sports have got to reach parity with men. Whether we like that or not, it has to stand on its own two feet.
“I think it’s 20 years away from being closer. It depends what level we look at. If we start looking at matching WSL salaries with men’s Premier League salaries, then comfortably we’re 20 years away.”
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