European football’s governing body, UEFA, has said the commercial value of the women’s club and league game across the continent is set to register a six-fold increase over the next decade to €686m (£576.6m/$695m), with matchday revenue identified as the fastest growth area.
This figure is included in The Business Case for Women’s Football, a new report that highlights the potential for growth in the European game during the period up to 2033.
UEFA said that while a record-breaking Women’s Euro 2022 showcased the popularity and potential of international women’s football, the game has also made huge strides at club level, with the successful launch of a new format for the Women’s Champions League with centralised marketing and television coverage from the 2021-22 season and ever-increasing professionalisation across domestic leagues.
Delivering on commitments outlined in Time for Action, UEFA’s women’s football strategy, the new report seeks to provide comprehensive reasoning for increasing investment in women’s football. Focusing primarily on the club game, it aims to give a clear understanding of the sport’s potential for growth, outlines the benefits increased investment can bring and offers guidance on how to maximise return on this investment.
From a commercial perspective, the report states that the value of women’s club football in Europe stood at €116m last year – €12m in matchday value, €69m in sponsorship value and €35m in media rights value.
By 2033, Uefa projects this could rise to a base value of €552m (€105m matchday, €252m sponsorship and €194m media rights), and a high value of €686m (€135m matchday, €295m sponsorship and €256m media rights).
The report states that while the fan base is growing significantly, matchday revenue from domestic club games is currently inconsistent and relatively low. Therefore, converting fandom into higher matchday attendance is deemed a “significant growth opportunity” for the women’s game.
At present, 49% of clubs do not use local marketing campaigns, while 66% of integrated clubs don’t have their women’s team playing at their main stadium. Some 74% of clubs are currently said to give tickets away for free, with 95% of fans who attend stating they would be willing to pay.
To convert increasing engagement into greater attendance and revenue and to fully realise their potential, the report states leagues and clubs need to raise awareness of women’s football matches, improve scheduling and matchday facilities, and remodel ticket pricing.
The report states that women’s football is also considered to be “inspirational, empowering and family-friendly”, attracting a diverse, progressive and young fanbase that is set to grow from 144 million to 328 million fans over the next 10 years.
Focused on sporting, commercial, image and engagement opportunities, The Business Case for Women’s Football identifies over 20 recommendations to inform club and league strategies and support stakeholders in developing the women’s game and maximising return on investment. These recommendations are grouped into five key themes:
- Develop strategies and business plans
- Raise standards and professionalism on and off the pitch
- Build a sustainable ecosystem
- Increase visibility and strengthen audience engagement
- Build on the unique strengths of the women’s game
Giorgio Marchetti, UEFA deputy general secretary and director of the Football Division, said: “The Business Case for Women’s Football is a very ambitious project that has been developed in partnership with representatives from all football stakeholders including national associations, leagues, the European Club Association (ECA), clubs, broadcasters, sponsors, fans and academic institutions.
“This report provides all of our stakeholders with a clear understanding of the benefits of investing in the women’s game, and provides them with clear rationale for increasing that investment.”
Nadine Kessler, UEFA chief of women’s football, added: “Women’s football is on an incredibly exciting trajectory, with growth being seen across nearly every metric and across all of our stakeholders across Europe.
“The potential of the women’s game is limitless and we believe we are on course to take women’s football to heights that were unimaginable just a few years ago. As this report shows, now is the time to capitalise on the momentum we have created together, now is the time to get involved, now is the time to invest.”
UEFA produced the report after consultation with 42 leagues, 162 clubs, the ECA and 11 commercial partners, as well as 30 interviews with top executives and consumer research across 14 markets and more than 20,000 individuals.