Soccer-Women's Super League generates record revenue on back of England's success


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's Super League - Manchester United v Chelsea - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 18, 2024 ccelebrates with trophy after winning the Women's Super League REUTERS/Molly Darlington/File Photo

(Reuters) - Women's Super League (WSL) clubs generated 48 million pounds ($61 million) in aggregate revenue in the 2022-23 season, a rise of 50% on the previous campaign, Deloitte said in its Annual Review of Football Finance published on Thursday.

The aggregate revenue in the WSL has been steadily increasing every year and the figures for the 2022-23 season -- which followed England's triumph at Euro 2022 -- were more than double that of the 2020-21 campaign (20 million pounds).

The report also said that the cumulative attendance surpassed one million for the first time across the WSL and the second-tier Championship in the 2023-24 season, a knock-on effect after England finished runners-up at the 2023 World Cup.

As clubs capitalised on the surge in popularity by having women's teams play in their main stadiums, matchday revenues among WSL clubs grew to seven million pounds while average attendance was up nearly 200% on the previous season.

"WSL clubs are home to world class players whose success on the international stage has drawn new fans to the domestic game," Deloitte Sports Business Group's Jenny Haskel said.

"Driving a loyal fanbase, habitual viewing and distinct commercial partnerships was a clear priority for WSL clubs in the 2022-23 season and the soaring revenue growth achieved demonstrates the strides that have been made."

Arsenal's women will play 11 of their home games at its 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium next season, making it the primary venue for the team.

Deloitte expects the WSL club aggregate revenue to reach 52 million pounds in the 2023-24 season, which could rise to 68 million pounds in the upcoming campaign.

TOP FOUR

Although the average revenue for WSL clubs was four million pounds in the 2022-23 season, the top four revenue-generating clubs -- Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United -- recorded 66% of the total revenue for the league.

The wage bills from these four clubs alone accounted for over half (57%) of the league's total wage costs.

WSL clubs' pre-tax losses rose to 21 million pounds in the 2022-23 season but Tim Bridge, lead partner in the Deloitte Sports Business Group, said there is "significant growth" across the women's game and continued investment would be crucial.

"Many women's clubs continue to rely on financial contributions from their wider group structure, however this is not a new revelation in football where many owners prop up the shortfalls of loss-making clubs," Bridge said.

"It's important the industry does not hold women's clubs to a profitability metric that the wider game has yet to consistently achieve."

The next season will have an independent organisation, NewCo, to run the women's professional game in England instead of the Football Association, with clubs being shareholders.

($1 = 0.7856 pounds)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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