To read this content please select one of the options below:

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

Beth G. Clarkson (School of Sport Health and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Daniel Plumley (Department of Finance, Accounting and Business Systems, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Christina Philippou (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Rob Wilson (Department of Finance, Accounting and Business Systems, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK)
Tom Webb (School of Sport Health and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 10 August 2023

Issue publication date: 15 September 2023

895

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Findings

Since 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 implications

Women's football exists at an important crossroad, and its next moves need careful consideration in relation to its governance structures and league design.

Originality/value

The 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.

Keywords

Citation

Clarkson, B.G., Plumley, D., Philippou, C., Wilson, R. and Webb, T. (2023), "Money troubles and problems ahead? The financial health of professional women's football clubs in England", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 13 No. 5, pp. 563-581. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBM-10-2022-0088

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles