How much do women footballers get paid?
Now that really is a million-dollar question!
It would certainly appear that the quick, easy answer is – a lot less than their male counterparts… But. There are many reasons why that would appear obvious, so let´s take a look.
If we look at Arsenal Women´s Defender Leah Williamson who is one of the finest ball-playing defenders in world football. Leah is a real success story from Arsenal´s Centre of Excellence.
Williamson captained England Lionesses´ to victory in the Euro 2022 Championship last Sunday and is reported to have earned £200,000 last season.
That may be nearly eight times as high as the average UK salary, but compared to the men’s England captain, Harry Kane, it is only a fraction. Kane earns the same amount of money Williamson earns in a year in just one week. And he isn´t the highest paid Premier League footballer, that´s reported to be Cristiano Ronaldo on around £400,000 a week.
According to BBC analysis, the average Women´s Super League player earns £47,000 a year, based on analysis of various published results for several teams in the women´s league. But following England’s historic win against Germany in the Euro 2022 Championship, which has shone a spotlight on women’s football, could that gap begin to close a little? It is a sizeable gap to bridge.
Figures were compiled for Deloitte for the wage bills at three mid-table Premier League clubs. If you accept the Wolves figure for example, as an average of £4.7m, as a typical middle ground figure for all 20 Premier League clubs, it suggests men are earning 100 times what the women are.
There’s one consolation though – England players male or female are paid the same £2,000 match fee per game and have been since 2020! Now that´s equality happening right there isn´t it?
But why is the gap so large? Where does the money come from? Football clubs generate funds in three different ways:
- Ticket sales
- Broadcast rights
- Commercial deals, such as sponsorship
According to statistics published by Deloitte, in the men’s game, ticket sales account for about 15% of income with the remaining 85% split between TV fees and sponsorship.
Average attendance for Premier League games – 39,000*
Average attendance for Women´s Super League games – 1,931*
* according to the Football Association.
Average top Premier League ticket – £65
Average WSL standing ticket – £9
Just looking at ticket income there’s a huge disparity. Also, Premier League tickets are normally sold out weeks before the game whilst, even at that low price the WSL games seldom sell out. Although maybe that is all about to change. As we recently reported, the North London derby will be played at the Emirates Stadium on 24th September, and tickets sales had reached 25,000 with a number of weeks to go to the event.
Precise details of sponsorships are more difficult to come by, as clubs normally do bundled deals for both men’s and women’s team. But it’s a certainty that sponsors are mainly paying to be on the men’s shirts.
When it comes to TV, the Premier League attracts an estimated £10bn from a range of broadcasters, including substantial overseas earnings.
In comparison, the Women’s Super League is currently part way through a UK TV deal worth just £8m a year.
The figures are stark but partly based on the relative youth of the professional women’s game. England’s WSL was established in 2011 and only went fully professional in 2018.
The Lionesses’ success and popularity should mean the next TV and sponsorship deals are negotiated upwards. Euro 2022 was the first time that sponsorship was offered just for the women’s tournament, rather than simply being bundled with the men’s tournament as has happened in the past. Their success should make a huge difference and help wages to rise closer to those of some of their European counterparts, such as European giants Lyon or the US National Women’s Soccer League where top players are reported to earn more than £420,000 per season.
In the last decade £50m National Lottery money has been invested in women’s football and during the Euros a further £2m was allocated for a new grassroots girls’ programme this summer.
But there’s one clear fact from Euro 2022 triumph: the 87,192 crowd smashed the record for attendance at a Euro match, men’s or women’s!
That appears to tell its own story of how women’s football has captured the hearts of fans.
But it’s worth bearing in mind that tickets for the final started at just £15. Tickets for last years men’s Euro final started at £250 with the number of tickets sold limited to two-thirds of capacity by then Covid-rules.
So yes, the women´s game is still some way off bringing in the financial rewards that the men’s game attracts but it looks like that gap is set to reduce over the coming seasons.
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