Okay the title lies, it’s not all about the money at all. It can’t be about the money otherwise the women footballers would be a far too easily placated bunch and from their determination and drive on the field I get the impression that is most definitely not the case.
I am of course talking about FAWSL pay gate that reared its head over the last week or so. If you don’t know what i’m talking about, then here’s a short summary: the FA’s centrally contracted female players were contracted to earn £16,000 p/a, a figure set in place back in 2009. After the glory of the Olympic Games for Team GB, the reasonable profile of the FA WSL and the fact that quite a few people now know women’s football actually exists, the FA decided they should listen to the players, check their piles of gold and kindly up the wage. Their fair and giant pay rise? £18,000 a year instead.
Now don’t get me wrong, after a year of unemployment and poorly paid junior roles despite having a brain and work ethos (thank you government) I will be the first to agree that money is still money and a wage is never something to be sniffed at, however you also need money to be able to do things, like, get to training for example. Public transport and cars are not cheap. Eating is also another basic and vital thing you need to spend your wage on and whereas maybe you or I can get by on value rice and pasta sauce for a week, a top performing athlete, going out to represent her club or country needs a bit more to fuel the body. Then there’s diet supplements, training gear, protein bars, rent, heating bills, council tax, all of which need to be paid for somehow. Add to that the fact that there is no allocation of extra wage for those having to live on London prices and you can see how living on £18,000 and still representing your sport at top level still isn’t really that viable.
Players can take part-time jobs to supplement their junior level income, however are then limited to working a maximum of 20 hours a week further. The chances of finding a job that takes someone for 20 hours a week and is then flexible enough to deal with mid week games or day time training sessions is no easy task, especially at the moment.
It was announced earlier this week that the FA have agreed to paying their FA WSL players £20,000 a year, a £4000 increase on their current wage. It’s good news, but still less than most people I know who sit around in an office and ‘market’ things all day. It is also more than some of the male players in the Premier League will make in A DAY. Compare England striker Rooney with his designer hair to England defender Sophie Bradley who has to supplement her income by working in a retirement home. When you look at it like that there’s still a long way to go.
Women’s football has been gradually gaining momentum over the last few years with increased turn out at matches and telivised games that people are actually watching. There is so much opportunity for the game to become a marketable success however if the FA doesn’t wake up soon it’s going to begin to loose players either to the USA where wages are much higher, or through top players being unable to support themselves through the sport they love.