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Government backs Karen Carney’s blueprint to raise standards in domestic women’s football

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has today accepted the recommendations from Karen Carney MBE’s review into the future of domestic women’s football, and has challenged The Football Association (FA) and wider stakeholders to go further and set a new standard for women’s sport.

In September 2022, the Government commissioned former England and Great Britain footballer turned pundit Karen Carney MBE to undertake an independent review following England’s UEFA EURO 2022 success. 

Her review, published in July 2023, detailed a series of key recommendations designed to capitalise on the recent success of the Lionesses, and to set out a pathway to a successful and sustainable commercial future for the domestic women’s game.  

A key recommendation is for The FA and NewCo, the new independent body that will lead the women’s elite game in England, to commit to the full professionalisation of the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship. 

Karen outlined how this should be backed up by raising minimum operating standards, improving physical and mental health provision, elite training facilities for players and improving parental care packages and transition support for players leaving the game. 

To ensure this recommendation is delivered at pace, the Government will now convene an implementation group consisting of key stakeholders – including the FA, NewCo and others – to ensure that key milestones are met and delivered. 

The Government will also establish a separate Board of Women’s Sports in the new year, attended by leading figures in the industry to highlight common themes and challenges being faced by different sports, share best practices and research, and accelerate growth of women’s sport beyond women’s football. 

The Review also asked the Government to increase meaningful investment in grassroots facilities for women and girls to improve access and participation. To achieve this ambition, last week the Government announced a £30 million cash injection with The FA to build approximately 30 new state-of-the-art 3G pitches and accompanying facilities designed to prioritise women’s and girls’ teams across England. 

The new funding is on top of the Government’s existing investment, totalling more than £400 million which has so far delivered upgrades to 2,200 different sport facilities across the UK including multi-sport pitches, swimming pools and park tennis courts. 

In March this year, the Prime Minister responded to the Lionesses’ call for equal access to sport in schools for boys and girls. The Government continues to make progress on achieving its commitment, supported by over £600 million through the PE and School Sports Premium. 

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said:

I’d like to thank Karen for her detailed review which has delivered a clear blueprint for the future of women’s football from the grassroots up to the elite level.

We are completely committed to delivering equal access to sport for girls in schools, alongside an unprecedented £400 million investment in grassroots facilities outside of school.

We must collectively seize the moment and deliver sustained commercial success for the women’s game, and fully support The FA and NewCo to drive forward the full professionalisation of the game.

Karen Carney MBE said:

I’m encouraged that the government is providing their full backing to my review and renewing their commitment to develop women’s football in the UK and fulfil its potential to be a world-beating sport.

The real work begins now. I hope the additional investment and support from the government is the boost for The FA, the incoming NewCo, and other stakeholders of the game to rally around this once in a lifetime opportunity to transform domestic women’s football for generations to come.

The Government supports, and actively encourages the FA and incoming NewCo as custodians of the women’s game, to take forward the following recommendations:

  • Implement world-leading standards for players, fans, staff, and everybody involved in the women’s game
  • Improve the talent pathway to ensure generations of world-beating Lionesses
  • Address the lack of diversity in the game on and off the pitch
  • Alongside Premier League, EFL and broadcasters, carve out a dedicated slot for women’s football
  • Raise club standards for fan engagement
  • Alongside the Premier League and Football Foundation improve funding flows across the pyramid to enhance facilities
  • Utilise the change in administration to further develop the National League and grassroots game

The Government is a firm backer of women’s sport and will continue to invest in facilities to ensure improved access for women and girls. As outlined in its recently published sports strategy ‘Get Active’, the Government has set an ambitious target to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030. 

ENDS

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