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Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance - Women’s Super League clubs report combined revenues of £32m in record-breaking 2021/22 season

12 June 2023
  • Broadcast and commercial deals drive 60% growth in aggregate revenue;
  • Combined wages across the 12 Women’s Super League clubs totalled £25m, up 37% on the previous season;
  • Increase in revenue and group income support helps aggregate wages/revenue ratio fall from 92% to 78%;
  • Deloitte’s Sports Business Group’s analysis marks the first time that WSL revenues have been reported in a formal way.

Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs generated £32m in aggregate revenue in the 2021/22 season, up from £20m in the previous financial year, according to new analysis from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. The significant 60% rise was driven by increases in both broadcast and commercial revenues.

The commencement of a new broadcast deal in the 2021/22 season - the largest broadcast deal of any professional women’s football league, representing a reported £8m per year - led to a significant uplift in broadcast distributions for WSL and Women’s Championship clubs. The deal marked the first time that broadcast rights to the WSL had been auctioned separately from the men’s game, with broadcast distributions shared among WSL and Women’s Championships clubs at 75% and 25% respectively and included an equal fixed amount per club, plus a share based on league position.

Commercial revenue was an additional driver for both league and WSL club revenues in the 2021/22 season, and Deloitte expects commercial revenue in the women’s game will continue to grow in future seasons. While the sponsorship agreement that was in place for the 2021/22 season was originally struck for around £10m over three years, the latest title sponsorship agreement includes a new £30m investment into the WSL and Women’s Championship from 2022-2025.

At the club level, commercial revenue in the 2021/22 season was captured separately from the men’s team, or as part of bundled deals across all of a club’s teams. Overall, ten out of 12 WSL club shared the same front of shirt sponsor as their men’s team in the 2021/22 season, allowing WSL clubs to benefit from wider sponsorship agreements for affiliated men’s sides, which included some of the highest revenue-generating commercial deals in European football.

Matchday revenues throughout the league accounted for nearly 10% of WSL clubs’ combined revenues in the 2021/22 season, with average league attendance of 1,923. Deloitte expects that WSL clubs’ matchday revenues will rise significantly in the next financial year, following nearly a 200% increase in average WSL match attendance in the 2022/23 season, to an average of 5,616 per match.

Zoe Burton, director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “The women’s game achieved significant leaps in revenue in the 2021/22 season. The Lionesses’ success at the UEFA Women’s Euros is pinned as an inflexion point for the popularity of women’s football, so it’s telling that even before this historic win revenues had begun to grow in the Women’s Super League.

“We have already seen new records set for attendance, viewership and the value of commercial partnerships in the 2022/23 season. Organisations should not be shy about the commercial opportunities available in women’s football, and we are now reaching the point where clubs can seek to maximise the value associated with the women’s game by unbundling revenue streams to target a unique fanbase.”

Deloitte’s analysis highlights that while WSL clubs’ revenues from matchday, broadcast and commercial streams are growing, there is also significant backing from their wider organisations as group income accounts for around 40% of revenue across all WSL clubs.

Currently, each WSL club receives financial support from group income through additional revenue (c.£13m in 2021/22) and/or loans and equity funding to cover annual losses. In 2021/22, the WSL clubs’ aggregate pre-tax losses of £14m will be supported by the group income.

In 2021/22, aggregate wage costs totalled £25m for the 12 WSL clubs, up 37% on the previous season. Bolstered by increased revenues and support from group income, the aggregate wages/revenue ratio fell from 92% to 78%.

The range in wage costs across the WSL clubs increased from £2.7m in 2020/21 to £3.6m in 2021/22.

Tim Bridge, lead partner for Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, added: “As leagues, clubs and partners look to capitalise on the growth tailwinds of women’s football, ensuring sustainable growth as well as competitive balance across leagues will be critical. In England change is afoot to support this, with the Future of Women’s Football Review setting foundations for growth in the elite women’s game. As with any growing league, it is important that financial sustainability sits at the heart of new regulations, which carefully consider investment incentives alongside competitive balance across the women’s game.”

This latest analysis follows the publication of the 2023 Deloitte Football Money League, which analysed the revenue attributed to the affiliated women’s teams of Money League clubs for the first time.

Bridge concludes: “An increase in available data and consistent reporting will enable women’s football clubs to approach and attract new commercial partnerships, give greater insights to clubs across the league, and provide a benchmark for competitive balance.”

The 2023 Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance will publish on Thursday 15th June.


Notes to editors:

Wage costs

Wage costs cover all employees (including players, technical and administrative employees) and include wages, salaries, signing-on fees, bonuses, termination payments, social security contributions and other employee benefit expenses.

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