Premier League in ‘active conversations’ with FA about helping women’s football

This season marks the start of the Premier League investing £21million into women’s football over the next three years.

By Press Association Published: 2 August 2022 - 5.17am

The Premier League remains in “active conversations” with the Football Association over how it can help women’s football but chief executive Richard Masters insists now is the wrong time to talk about a potential takeover of the Women’s Super League.

Masters said two summers ago the organisation would like to eventually run the top flight of women’s football, a notion which Ian Wright reiterated in the immediate aftermath of the Lionesses’ stunning Euro 2022 final win over Germany at Wembley on Sunday.

This season the Premier League starts a three-year commitment to investing £21million into both the women’s professional game and girls grassroots football but plans to take control of the WSL remain on ice for now.

“It is a moment of glorious celebration and a moment for the players, the managers and those people around the team to have and feel huge satisfaction in a job extremely well done,” Masters said of England’s success ahead of the latest Premier League season starting on Friday.

“I think it would be wrong to talk about it (WSL takeover).

“Obviously from this season we are starting to fund the women’s game by £21million put into the girls grassroots and into the professional game split pretty much down the middle. That’s the start of things and we are in active conversations with the FA over how we can help more.

“There is always more to be done, as you know we have targets within the Premier League in terms of diversity targets and female representation.

“I think there should be more female voices at the top of our game and I am sure that will happen in time.”

Only last week the Premier League announced Alison Brittain will be its new chair but she will not start until early in 2023.

By then Masters is hopeful an improvement will have occurred in crowd behaviour after a string of worrying incidents at the end of last season where fans invaded pitches and flares were regularly thrown onto the field of play.

Masters added: “Never have the three bodies been so quickly aligned on something!

“I think we will still see incidents and that will mean people will be banned and possibly face criminal prosecution but we need to do those things now to not let it get out of control.

“We have a shareholders meeting at the end of September and we will be reviewing it then. We will be looking at it and hoping to see things are improving almost immediately.”

During next month’s aforementioned gathering of the key figures at Premier League clubs, a new owners’ and directors’ test could be voted through.

An agreement in principle over the much-debated test occurred at the division’s AGM in the summer but certain issues are still to be resolved.

“It is one of things we have discussed with the clubs, whether there should be a human rights test,” Masters explained.

“From this season we are starting to fund the women's game by £21million put into the girls grassroots and into the professional game split pretty much down the middle. That's the start of things.”
- Premier League chief executive Richard Masters

“We are trying to strengthen and make it more transparent, the owners’ and directors’ test.

“Clubs agreed in principle a bunch of changes in the summer, but there are some issues that require further work and they will come up in September, so maybe in September we will have a new owners’ and directors’ test.”

Todd Boehly faced that very process ahead of buying Chelsea from Roman Abramovich in May and Masters admitted to having had “genuine concern” over the future of the London outfit.

Previous owner Abramovich put the club up for sale in March but he faced sanctions from the UK Government soon after, who claimed to have proven his links to Vladimir Putin in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it saw a deadline put in place for any takeover to occur.

Masters added: “They were unique circumstances and nothing like this has happened before, so there was obviously a genuine concern that the sale wouldn’t take place within the time frame available.

“That didn’t happen thankfully and a lot of people worked extremely hard on it at the club’s end, the government’s end and the Premier League’s end to make sure things run as smoothly as possible.”

Chelsea are one of several English sides set to be affected by UEFA’s reformed Champions League from the 2024-25 season where more teams and more games will take place in Europe’s elite competition.

The result is less room in the domestic football calendar for tournaments like the League Cup but Masters insists Premier League teams want to see the EFL-run competition remain.

He added: “There are going to be discussions between the FA, the Premier League and the EFL about how we reform the calendar.

“If you talk to Premier League clubs, they want the League Cup to remain because of the Wembley slot, the extra European place so that is one of the things we have got to discuss and it has to happen now.”

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