Former Lioness and football pundit Karen Carney MBE has released her highly anticipated review on the future of domestic women’s football in the UK.
The report, commissioned by the UK Government after England’s successful UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 campaign, aims to elevate the sport and drive positive changes. It comes ahead of the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.
Key Findings and Recommendations
Carney’s independent report explores various aspects of women’s and girls’ football, including the elite game, professional environment, fan experience, and grassroots participation.
The review highlights opportunities and challenges, outlining a roadmap to raise minimum standards and foster sustainable growth across all levels of the sport.
The review puts forward ten key recommendations to shape the future of domestic women’s football:
- NewCo, the standalone company overseeing the Women’s Super League (WSL) and Women’s Championship, should strive for world-leading standards in all aspects of the game.
- The Football Association (FA) needs to enhance the talent pathway to develop a generation of exceptional players, including securing strategic partnerships and increasing access to international talent.
- The Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship should transition into fully professional environments, providing top-tier resources and support for players.
- The FA must address disparities in operating standards between the two leagues, ensuring adequate contact time with players, fair salaries, comprehensive health provision, elite training facilities, parental support, union representation, duty of care, and career transition assistance.
- Promoting diversity in both on and off-pitch roles within women’s football should be a priority for the FA.
- Collaborative efforts between the FA, Premier League, EFL, and broadcasters are necessary to establish a dedicated broadcast slot for women’s football.
- Clubs should prioritize the value and support given to their fans, and the FA should implement minimum standards to enforce this.
- The Government must fulfill its commitments regarding equal access to school sports for girls.
- Increased investment from various stakeholders, including the Government, local authorities, the FA, and the Premier League, is essential to provide better facilities and opportunities for women and girls to participate in sports.
- The FA, Premier League, and Football Foundation should ensure that funding for facilities benefits women and girls across all levels of the sport.
Comments on the Report
Chair of the review of domestic women’s football Karen Carney MBE said:
Following the Lionesses’ unforgettable success in 2022 and as we look ahead to the World Cup, it is clear that domestic women’s football has reached a defining moment.
This review has enabled us to get a comprehensive understanding of the state of the game, and how we can capitalise on the current momentum.
It is clear that the women’s game in this country can become a world leading sport that not only generates immense economic and social value, but sets the standards for women’s professional sport globally.
These recommendations must be a blueprint for how this can be achieved, and must be acted upon with urgency.
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:
I want to pay tribute to Karen Carney and her panel of experts for all the hard work and dedication they have put into producing such an important review.
After the joy of last summer when the Lionesses lifted the Women’s EURO 2022 trophy, and as we approach the Women’s World Cup in just a few days time, we are at a milestone for women’s sport.
Women’s football in particular has huge potential to improve the lives of women and girls and offer a special and accessible sporting environment for fans. Everyone involved in the game must consider the recommendations made in this report and help to take the game to the next level.
Reaction and Next Steps
Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer commended Karen Carney and the panel of experts for their dedicated work on the review. She emphasized the importance of considering the report’s recommendations to advance women’s football and create an inclusive sporting environment for all.
The Government will provide a detailed response to the recommendations in the coming months.
The review received valuable input from a panel of experts, including former professional footballer Ian Wright, former Lionesses Head Coach Hope Powell, and representatives from organizations such as Women in Football and the International Working Group on Women and Sport.
Karen Carney’s review marks a significant milestone for women’s football in the UK.
The findings and recommendations have the potential to transform the sport, leveraging its vast potential to improve the lives of women and girls and provide an accessible and inspiring environment for fans.
As stakeholders reflect on the report’s insights, collaborative efforts are crucial to taking women’s football to new heights.
The UK Government’s response.