Lewes FC has today called for the FA to break the link with revenue and redress the enormous gap in FA Cup prize money between women’s and men’s teams.
This weekend is FA Cup fourth round weekend. There are 16 women’s matches and 16 men’s matches. The winning team in each of the women’s matches will win £2,000. The winning team in each of the men’s matches will win £180,000.
Manchester City’s men’s team won the FA Cup last year and took home £3.6 million in the final alone. Manchester City’s women’s team won the FA Cup last year but took home just £25,000 from the final. The total FA Cup prize fund for all women’s teams is just £309,355, compared to £30.25 million for men. Women’s teams get around 1% of the men’s total.
These figures represent an even higher proportional discrepancy than the prize money awarded by FIFA for the World Cup.
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The main justification given for this vast difference in prize money is that the men’s FA cup generates more revenue. The primary reason that men’s football currently generates more revenue in England is that the FA banned women’s football for 50 years, stymying growth and distorting a nation’s understanding of whose talent and potential is worth investing in. At the time women’s football was routinely attracting crowds in the tens of thousands and was successful in generating large sums of money through gate and ancillary revenues.
Lewes FC backs the Football Association’s “For All” strategy and believes that its Women’s Football Strategy has led to important gains in the growth and acceptance of women’s football and is being run by an excellent team of people.
“A dramatic increase in funding via the equalisation of FA Cup prize money would be a signal that the governing body is ready to right the wrongs of the 50-year ban and is playing its part to rapidly speed up equality in the game. Higher prize funds for the women’s game would also likely see a dramatic change in how clubs invest in their women’s football set-ups” said Maggie Murphy, General Manager of Lewes FC.
Lewes FC supports the way that the FA cup redistributes finance across the grassroots of English football, and believes the same approach could provide much needed support to both fledgling and established women’s teams across the country, each seeking to deal with and capitalise on the increased participation rates of women (supported by the FA) since the World Cup last year.
On Sunday January 26, Lewes FC Women take on Billericay Town in their FA Cup fourth round match. The teams will be wearing t-shirts during the warm-up that show the discrepancy in prize money awarded for that game that weekend. These t-shirts will be worn in solidarity by Lewes FC Men during the warm-up before their match against East Thurrock United on Saturday January 25.
Lewes is the first football club in the world to break the link with revenue and allocate resources equally to its men’s and women’s teams, resulting in equal playing budget, equal marketing budgets and equal access to facilities.
Last year the club raised the FA Cup prize money gap through an open letter to the FA that gained traction in the Houses of Parliament with then prime Minister Theresa May being asked to respond. The FA increased the prize money for the women’s FA Cup by around £57k. A year before they had increased the prize money for the men’s FA Cup by over £15 million (with no increase at all for the women).