Barclays becomes first title sponsor of Women's Super League in £10m deal
The Football Association, England’s governing body for soccer, has announced a multi-million-pound partnership with Barclays, the UK-based bank, which will now become the first title sponsor of the Women's Super League, in what has been reported to be the largest investment to date by a brand into UK women’s sport.
The total cost of the deal is being reported as around the £10-million ($13.2-million) mark, for a three-year partnership until July 2022.
Barclays' title sponsorship will take effect from the 2019-20 season. The partnership will enable an annual £500,000 prize fund for the league winners, and Barclays will also become the lead sponsor of the FA Girls’ Football School partnerships, a scheme that aims to increase girls’ access to school football.
This partnership means that Barclays will now sponsor both women’s and men’s soccer at the highest level in England. The bank has taken the opportunity to extend its commitment as the official banking partner of the Premier League (of which it was previously the title sponsor) for a further three years.
Kelly Simmons, The FA’s director of women’s professional game said: “We are delighted to announce our landmark partnership with Barclays… their record, multi-million-pound commitment will impact all levels of the game and will support our ambition to make the Barclays FA Women’s Super League the world’s most successful league, on and off the pitch.”
The WSL, the only fully professional women’s soccer league in Europe, contains 11 teams. Formed in 2011, it has grown from eight sides, none of which were professional.
The league was played through the summer months until 2017 when it switched to a September-May schedule to become consistent with the men’s game in England. The switch to full professionalisation occurred last summer.
Other league sponsors include Continental Tyres and SSE, an energy company.
The partnership comes as further confirmation of the growing status and interest firms are taking in the WSL and the women’s game in general in England, perhaps influenced by the results of a survey in November 2018. The survey showed that 61 per cent of respondents were willing to expand their viewing habits and become fans of women’s soccer as well as men’s.