Written by: Tom Bennett– Client Director, Racepoint Global London
Barclays’ decision to become the title sponsors of the Women’s Super League could be a really shrewd move from the long-time partners of the Premier League.
The deal, which is reportedly worth £10M over the next three seasons, is completely ground breaking for a league that has struggled to attract major sponsorships since its inception back in 2011.
But it could end up proving great value for Barclays.
Firstly, there’s the fantastic coverage the new deal has already generated. It was covered across national news and sport media, and was everywhere on social for days after the announcement. You don’t see equivalent sponsor deals in the men’s game receive that kind of attention very often.
Secondly – the money is going to make a huge, material difference to the health of the women’s game. There’s going to be prize money for the first time in the re-branded Barclays Women’s Super League (£500,000 for the winners). That’s huge for a league which was only made fully ‘professional’ last year. The money will also fund a grassroots schools programme, which aims to help double participation in women’s football overt the next four years. What a great legacy that would be for Barclays, if their investment helps the FA to reach that target.
Finally – the women’s game feels like it’s on the brink of something special.
I was Arsenal Ladies’ communications manager from 2010-14. While I witnessed crowds building year on year, the game was still niche. Coverage came from the local papers and the odd BBC LDN interview. Now - from The Guardian to Copa 90 - it’s everywhere.
Spear-headed by the success of the national team, players like Steph Houghton, and the backing of brands like Barclays – it’s become mainstream. It’s now less about unfavourable and often unhelpful comparisons with the men’s game, and more about celebrating the women’s game in its own right (and with cheap tickets, a family atmosphere, accessible players and more girls playing the game than ever there’s a lot to celebrate).
A successful World Cup for England this summer could take the women’s game to a whole new level, and Barclays’ forward looking partnership will ensure they’re be at the front of it.