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Government backs all 10 recommendations in Karen Carney’s review of women’s game

The Government has given its backing to the recommendations in ex-England midfielder Karen Carney’s review of domestic women’s football, stressing the need to “collectively seize the moment and deliver sustained commercial success”.

After the independent review, titled ‘Raising The Bar: Reframing the opportunity in women’s football’, was commissioned in September 2022 and published in July, the Government has issued its official response, in which it agrees that all 10 of the strategic recommendations should be actioned.

In its efforts to help drive things forward, it is to convene an “implementation group” of the Football Association, NewCo – the new independent body set to run the Women’s Super League and Championship from 2024-25 – and other stakeholders, which will assemble in March and July next year.

The review was commissioned shortly after England won the Women’s Euros on home soil, and the Lionesses subsequently finished as runners-up at this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “I’d like to thank Karen for her detailed review which has delivered a clear blueprint for the future of women’s football from the grassroots up to the elite level.

“We must collectively seize the moment and deliver sustained commercial success for the women’s game, and fully support the FA and NewCo to drive forward the full professionalisation of the game.”

Carney said: “I’m encouraged that the Government is providing their full backing to my review and renewing their commitment to develop women’s football in the UK and fulfil its potential to be a world-beating sport. The real work begins now.”

The creation of a fully professional environment in the top two tiers is one of the key recommendations in Carney’s report.

Within it’s backing in this area, the Government says it supports the introduction of a minimum ‘salary floor’ in the WSL from 2025-26 and in the Championship once revenues allow, the phasing in of increased contact time as part of licence criteria for second-tier clubs, formal union representation across both tiers, and a centrally-funded unit focusing on research for issues affecting female players.

With regard to the review’s call in this recommendation for the provision of “gold standard physical and mental health provision”, the Government said it felt the FA could have gone further in terms of changes made to medical licence criteria this season, and that it was “disappointed that the FA has not mandated clubs to recruit sport and exercise psychologists”.

It added that it had “had discussions with the FA, and have set out our expectation for them to fully consider the recommendation around medical licensing uplifts for the 2024-25 season.”

The review called for a dedicated broadcast slot, and the Government’s response on this included its view that “revoking Article 48 (the Saturday 3pm blackout) for women’s football alone is one viable option.”

The response also emphasised the importance of the FA and Newco appointing a new strategic partner “committed to fully investing in building a sustainable talent pathway for girls”.

It said on the topic of diversity in the women’s game that it “fully supports the sector as it moves to become more inclusive”, and welcomed the recent news of the Women’s FA Cup’s prize fund doubling for 2023-24 to £6million.

It also said it would continue to drive forward equal access for girls and increase transparency on funding following its announcement in March of a £600m package to boost school sport, and highlighted last week’s announcement of a new £30m fund to deliver artificial pitches at grassroots sites designed to prioritise women’s and girls’ teams.

As well as the implementation group, the Government will also establish a Board of Women’s Sports in the new year in a bid to accelerate growth beyond women’s football.

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