Banking company Barclays has agreed a three year deal to become the title sponsor of the Women's Super League. The deal will run from the start of next season and has been rumoured to be worth a figure in the region of £10m per year, providing a major new stream of revenue into the women's football pyramid.
In previous seasons, the team that wins the Women's Super League has been awarded no prize money in an official capacity. Following the Barclays sponsorship deal coming into effect, the prize money pot will stand at £500,000, to be distributed based on final league positions.
As part of the deal the competition will be renamed the 'Barclays FA Women's Super League', and current community initiatives will receive significant extra funding.
The partnership will include the FA and Barclays driving the development of the game at a grassroots level.
Barclays will become the primary partner of the existing FA Girls' School Partnerships which acts nationwide to advance girls' access to football in school. In addition to raising participation of girls in football at a school level, the partnership will also have focus on doubling the average fan base of the game through the FA's 'Gameplan for Growth' strategy.
Kelly Simmons, the director of professional women's football at the FA said in a statement that the association with Barclays will 'create 100 girls football schools partnerships across the country involving 6,000 schools, making sure girls have opportunities to play right from a young age.'
'Their [Barclays] multi-million pound commitment will impact all levels of the game and will support our ambition to make the Barclays FA Women's Super League the world's most successful league, on and off the pitch.'
The manager of Chelsea's women's team, Emma Hayes, said that the deal was a 'watershed moment' in the women's game.
Jes Staley, the Group CEO of Barclays spoke of the company's delight at the agreement and its potential impact on the sport, 'Our commitment to women’s and girls’ football, at a crucial time in its development, goes beyond pure sponsorship – we believe it can be a key to increasing participation, development and the wider visibility of the female game'
The past few weeks have been seismic for the women's game, starting off on 9 March when the US Women's National Team (USWNT) filed a lawsuit against the USA footballing federation under the Equal Pay Act and Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act to seek action over 'institutionalised gender discrimination'.
On Tuesday (19 March), a record nine parties declared their interest in hosting the 2023 Women's FIFA World Cup, which included a historic joint bid from North Korea and South Korea.
The announcement of Barclays' sponsorship of the Women's Super League finishes off what has been a big month in the development of women's football at a professional level, the top tiers of both men's and women's football in England being supported by the same major international company for the first time.