The World Cup, which ended last week and saw England reach the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions USA, is set to boost engagement and participation with the sport in the UK.
Deloitte predicts the number of women over 16 years old who play at least twice a month in the UK is expected to surpass 200,000 in 2019 from the current total of 187,400 and increase to 227,500 by the next World Cup in 2023.
Izzy Wray, consultant for the sports business group at Deloitte, pointed to a number of records being broken during the 2019 World Cup, including “more people in Britain tuning in to watch the Lionesses take on USA in the semi-final than any other programme this year”.
Deloitte highlighted the potential financial benefits for advertisers in sponsorship deals with women’s football clubs.
In England’s FA Women’s Super League, 64% of teams have the same front-of-shirt sponsor as the men’s equivalent teams, and only four clubs have a separate sponsor for the women’s team.
Deloitte suggested that there will be a financial benefit in “unbundling” sponsorship for women’s teams, and expects that in time for the 2023 World Cup there will be a “distinct main sponsor” for every team.
“The players have done their bit on the pitch, but now the time has come for rights holders and brands to shape the future of women’s football by building the competition structure, governance, media rights and sponsorship strategy to allow the sport to flourish at both amateur and professional levels,” said Wray.
She suggested that a clear vision of how the game should develop is needed to “maximise opportunity” and that brands, teams and individual players need to collaborate to develop “future trajectory” of women’s football so that it can “become the world’s leading professional women’s sport”.
In January, Deloitte reported that the top 20 clubs in the men’s game across Europe’s top five leagues set combined record revenues of £6.98bn last year.