Private equity firm approaches FA over buying stake in WSL
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.