The Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship to Establish Independence from FA
The Women’s Super League (WSL) and Women’s Championship are set to break away from the Football Association (FA) as both tiers unanimously vote to be governed by a new, independent entity starting from the upcoming season.
Nikki Doucet, a former executive at Nike and Citigroup, has been appointed to lead the newly established organisation, known as ‘NewCo.’ Doucet will take charge immediately, spearheading the transition for all 24 clubs across the top two divisions of English women’s soccer into this fresh governance structure ahead of the 2024/25 campaign.
Embracing the NewCo model, every participating club in both the WSL and Championship will operate as shareholders. This decision represents a pivotal step forward, designed to cultivate the expansion of what an independent review, led by former England international Karen Carney, highlighted earlier this summer. The review underscored the potential for the women’s soccer industry to burgeon into a billion-pound powerhouse on the domestic front within the next decade.
Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, expressed optimism about this pivotal shift, stating, “The women’s professional game is in the strongest place that it has ever been thanks to the hard work of everybody involved in its development so far, but we firmly believe that the NewCo will take it to another level entirely.”
“Each of our 24 clubs and the league itself wants the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship to be setting the standards for women’s football around the world, and this venture into a new governing body is the next step in us achieving that ambition.”
“This is a historical moment for the women’s professional game in this country, and it is a move that will see our clubs and players make even bigger strides both on and off the pitch.”
Karen Carney, who led the independent review into the women’s game, emphasised the entrepreneurial nature of women’s football, stating, “If you’re starting something you have to have an influx of money. In ten years’ time I really do believe this sport could be a billion-pound industry.”
Comparative to the Premier League’s 20-club governance model, NewCo is viewed by many as a critical next phase in the commercial growth of English women’s football. Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham, chairing a working group that included Doucet as an independent consultant, played a key role in developing the NewCo proposal. The working group involved ten representatives from WSL and Championship clubs, including figures like Crystal Palace chair Steve Parish and Patrick Stewart, the interim chief at Manchester United.
Venkatesham expressed the significance of this move, stating, “This is a pivotal moment in the history of the women’s professional game, as we look to work together to build the most distinctive, competitive and entertaining women’s football club competition in the world.”
“Setting up NewCo provides the opportunity to accelerate the sustainable growth of the women’s game and will not only support the development of the Barclays Women’s Super League and Barclays Women’s Championship, but the entirety of the women’s football pyramid.”
With the appointment of Nikki Doucet, known for her vision for women’s football, the future of NewCo is anticipated to be marked by unprecedented growth and success.