WSL revenues doubled but continued investment still needed, says report

June 20 – Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs generated £48 million in revenue over the 2022/23 season, a 50% rise on the 2021/22 season.

Revenues are forecast to reach £52 million in the 2023/24 season and £68 million in 2024/25.

The figures come from an analysis by the Deloitte Sports Business Group who noted a near 200% rise in average attendance across the league at 5,616, up from the previous season’s average of 1,923.

WSL match day revenues have grown to £7 million.

“Commercial revenue remained a driver of growth, representing 35% of total revenue (£17 million) for WSL clubs, with Manchester United (£5.2 million), Manchester City (£3.6 million), Liverpool (£3 million) and Tottenham Hotspur (£1.7 million) all reporting commercial revenues over £1 million,” said Deloitte.

The average revenue for WSL clubs was £4 million in the 2022/23 season, up from £2.7 million but there is a big gap and growing gap between clubs with the top four revenue-generating clubs making 66% of the total revenue for the 12-team league.

Player wage costs were up 45% across the league to £36 million with Deloite saying “the wages to revenue ratio remaining relatively stable at 75% (2021/22: 78%)”.

But again the differences between clubs is widening with wage bills from the top four revenue generating clubs in the league (Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United) accounting for 57% of the league’s total wage costs.

Jenny Haskel, knowledge and insight lead in the Deloitte Sports Business Group, said: “WSL clubs are home to world-class players whose success on the international stage has drawn new fans to the domestic game. Driving a loyal fanbase, habitual viewing and distinct commercial partnerships was a clear priority for WSL clubs in the 2022/23 season and the soaring revenue growth achieved demonstrates the strides that have been made.

“However, we’re still in the foothills of growth in the women’s game. With NewCo set to step into the governance role in place of the FA this year, WSL clubs will be both participants in the competition and shareholders off the pitch.”

WSL clubs pre-tax losses rose to £21 million in the 2022/23 season (2021/22: £14 million), despite the inclusion of £17.4 million of group income for certain clubs.

Tim Bridge, lead partner in the Deloitte Sports Business Group, said that this should not be too concerning and that the women’s game needs continued investment as it pushes towards sustainability. That will require strong, committed leadership he reckons.

“Many women’s clubs continue to rely on financial contributions from their wider group structure, however this is not a new revelation in football where many owners prop up the shortfalls of loss-making clubs. It’s important the industry does not hold women’s clubs to a profitability metric that the wider game has yet to consistently achieve. We’re seeing significant growth across the women’s game and continued investment is key. Further growth will be driven by the alignment of leaders across the game behind a bold strategy and belief in the longevity of success in women’s football,” said Bridge.

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