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Money troubles and problems ahead? The financial health of professional women's football clubs in England

Money troubles and problems ahead? The financial health of professional women's football clubs in... Despite multiple structural changes since its 2011 inception, many English Women's Super League (WSL) clubs have recorded losses and carried debt, leading to concerns about the financial health of the league. This study is the first to analyse the financial health of any professional women's sports league in the world. The authors examine WSL club finances between 2011 and 2019, theoretically situate the findings within joint production, and make policy recommendations.Design/methodology/approach In total, 73 annual accounts of 14 WSL clubs between 2011 and 2019 were scrutinised.FindingsSince 2011, club revenue has increased 590% but is outstripped by club debt increase (1,351%). The authors find poor financial health throughout the league, which may damage both its and the clubs' future growth. Findings also indicate an emergent group of dominant clubs on and off the pitch, which may threaten long-term sporting integrity and disrupt the joint production of the WSL product.Practical implicationsWomen's football exists at an important crossroad, and its next moves need careful consideration in relation to its governance structures and league design.Originality/valueThe authors provide a road map for necessary action (e.g. revenue distribution, licensing criteria, rewards) to protect the financial health of the WSL's clubs and promote sporting competition to assist the sport to capitalise further on positive gains in recent years. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sport Business and Management An International Journal Emerald Publishing

Money troubles and problems ahead? The financial health of professional women's football clubs in England

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References (53)

Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
2042-678X
DOI
10.1108/sbm-10-2022-0088
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Despite multiple structural changes since its 2011 inception, many English Women's Super League (WSL) clubs have recorded losses and carried debt, leading to concerns about the financial health of the league. This study is the first to analyse the financial health of any professional women's sports league in the world. The authors examine WSL club finances between 2011 and 2019, theoretically situate the findings within joint production, and make policy recommendations.Design/methodology/approach In total, 73 annual accounts of 14 WSL clubs between 2011 and 2019 were scrutinised.FindingsSince 2011, club revenue has increased 590% but is outstripped by club debt increase (1,351%). The authors find poor financial health throughout the league, which may damage both its and the clubs' future growth. Findings also indicate an emergent group of dominant clubs on and off the pitch, which may threaten long-term sporting integrity and disrupt the joint production of the WSL product.Practical implicationsWomen's football exists at an important crossroad, and its next moves need careful consideration in relation to its governance structures and league design.Originality/valueThe authors provide a road map for necessary action (e.g. revenue distribution, licensing criteria, rewards) to protect the financial health of the WSL's clubs and promote sporting competition to assist the sport to capitalise further on positive gains in recent years.

Journal

Sport Business and Management An International JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 15, 2023

Keywords: Sport finance; Football finance; Women's super league; Women's sport; Joint production

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