Women's football hit hard by coronavirus, says study

27 May 2020

Women's football in England is facing an unprecedented threat due to the coronavirus pandemic according to new research.

Although the suspension of elite football in England has been applied evenly to both men's and women's competitions, there will be deeper and more far-reaching consequences for the women's game.

The researchers - including co-author Dr Keith Parry, senior lecturer in the University of Winchester's Department of Sport, Exercise and Health - call for swift and decisive action to protect the future of the sport in the face of an existential threat.

According to lead author Dr Beth Clarkson, at the University of Portsmouth, even before the pandemic, elite women's football was facing poor pitches, low wages and conditions far behind men's clubs.

She said: "History has shown that at times of financial insecurity, clubs and the Football Association have cut investment to the women's game. So, given the historical devaluation of women's football, there is a danger that recent advances in women's football may be lost and progress set back decades."

Dr Keith Parry said: "It is key that financial support is not withdrawn from women's football at this time, leaving them to fold. Now is the time to build on the back of the success of previous tournaments and rising attendances so that we can continue this 'new age' of women's football. The future of men's football should be interconnected with women's football."

The study identifies a number of steps that should be taken by clubs and the Football Association to protect the future of women's football in England including:

The study is published in Managing Sport and Leisure. Online version available at this link.

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