All but three of Europe’s top women’s football clubs recorded huge revenue growth in 2023.
The stock of women’s football has never been higher – both literally and metaphorically.
2023 was a landmark year for the women’s game, with the World Cup drawing in millions of fans from across the globe while others watched from home in record numbers.
This interest has also resulted in unprecedented revenue growth in women’s football: Deloitte’s recently published Football Money League has revealed that most of Europe’s top sides recorded record incomings for the 2022/23 season.
Women’s football in 2023 – a landmark year
2023 proved a landmark year for women’s football. From a financial point of view, the 2023 World Cup made $570 million, marking the first time in its history that the tournament broke even.
More importantly, from a football fan’s point of view, supporters came to matches in unprecedented numbers. Pre-tournament ticket sales set a new record, with approximately 1.4 million tickets sold in advance of the competition.
The aggregate attendance across the 64 World Cup games was reported to be 1,978,274, smashing the previous record of 1,353,506, set in France in 2015.
Those not lucky enough to make it to Australia and New Zealand tuned into television coverage in their millions. Indeed, for the final between England and Spain, BBC reported a peak audience of 12 million viewers.
Moreover, the importance of England’s appearance in the final cannot be downplayed. The Lionesses were victorious in Euro 2022 and fell at the final hurdle against Spain in Australia. But, in the process, they have captured the hearts of sports fans at home and abroad.
Goalkeeper Mary Earps is central to England’s success, and was a deserved recipient of BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award, capping off a great year for the Manchester United shot-stopper.
Revenues – unprecedented profits
In fact, all but three of the clubs examined registered at least double-digit revenue growth in the past year. The top five revenue-makers in Europe consist of Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Manchester City, and Arsenal.
The lion’s share of income comes from sponsorship, while broadcast deals, in stark contrast to men’s football, were responsible for only 20%.
The future of the game – what this means for women’s football
This increased revenue is critically important to the future of women’s football.
While huge sums of money are relatively new in the men’s game, the truth of the matter is that it has received over 100 years of attention and funding. This is, lamentably, not something that has been afforded to women’s football. Yet.
Could women’s football get the attention it deserves? Amy Clarke of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group thinks so.
“There’s huge potential in women’s football; we have seen this growth for a few years now, so it proves it is not just a one-off,” she told BBC Sport.
“We are seeing a huge explosion in interest in the women’s game. We had record crowds and increased attendances last season resulting in higher matchday revenue. And we are seeing a really big focus on clubs becoming sustainable in their own right”.
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