Pri­vate equity firm ap­proaches FA over buy­ing stake in WSL

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Total Football - By Katie Why­att The Daily Tele­graph

The Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion has been ap­proached by a lead­ing Lon­don pri­vate equity firm over the pos­si­bil­ity of pur­chas­ing a stake in the Women’s Su­per League.

Bridge­point, which owns the rights to stage the global Mo­toGP mo­tor­cy­cle rac­ing se­ries, has tabled a pro­posal to buy a large mi­nor­ity stake in a new com­pany that would own the WSL’s com­mer­cial rights, ac­cord­ing to Sky News. It re­ported that the pro­posal would also see clubs own a share in the com­pany, along­side the FA.

The gov­ern­ing body runs the WSL at a cost of around £7mil­lion a year. un­der­stands that the FA has pre­dicted it will take a £300 mil­lion financial hit in the wake of the coron­avirus pan­demic and has planned to re­duce its bud­get over the next four years, but the women’s pro­fes­sional game bud­get has been pro­tected.

The Premier League has long been con­nected with a WSL takeover, with Premier League chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Masters telling MPs last month that his or­gan­i­sa­tion con­tin­ued to hold talks about tak­ing con­trol of the league.

“We de­cided col­lec­tively – that is the Premier League and the FA to­gether, and the WSL and Women’s Cham­pi­onship Board – that now was not the right time. But we will re­turn to that topic at some point in the near fu­ture,” he said.

Bar­clays took over the ti­tle spon­sor­ship of the WSL at the start of last sea­son in a ground­break­ing deal for women’s sport in the UK. The con­tract, an­nounced in March 2019, was the big­gest-ever in­vest­ment in UK women’s sport by a brand, with the three-year deal un­der­stood to be worth more than £10 mil­lion and bring­ing prize money into the WSL for the first time. Pre­vi­ously, clubs were given grants by the FA for their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the league.

That deal came in the same month that Nike launched be­spoke women’s kits for its coun­tries, while Lu­cozade, Ga­torade and Bud­weiser an­nounced tie-ups with the Li­onesses, Manch­ester City and Tot­ten­ham re­spec­tively. The FA is also in the process of at­tempt­ing to mon­e­tise the TV rights for the WSL.

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