'Unimaginable heights' – UEFA reveals women's club football set for dramatic surge in value
The success of Euro 2022 showed a growing interest in women's football, and club fan bases have the potential to more than double.FotMob - about 2 months ago
Women's club football in Europe is at "a critical juncture" but can soar to stunning new heights over the next decade, a new report from UEFA has disclosed.
Its commercial value can grow sixfold to €686million by 2033 and club sponsorship could swell to €295million by the same point, according to European football's governing body.
The developing professional leagues across Europe remain at an early stage of growth, emphasised by the fact spending on international player transfers topped €2m for the first time last year.
UEFA published its 'Business Case for Women’s Football' on Tuesday, with the women's game planning to capitalise on the success of international tournaments such as Euro 2022 by aiming to steer supporters and investors towards the clubs and leagues that in some cases are battling to survive.
The report said stakeholders have "an extraordinary opportunity to develop and professionalise women's football in Europe over the next decade by investing now" to unlock "enormous potential".
The report's findings would enable stakeholders "to make informed decisions and invest on the scale required", its authors said.
UEFA explained that previous data in this area, looking at the prospect for future growth, meant there was an "inconsistent and incomplete" picture of what the years to come might hold. It said its research and data investigations this time were "unprecedented" in their scale.
Former Germany striker Nadine Kessler, who is now UEFA's chief of women's football, hailed the game as being "on an incredibly exciting trajectory".
Kessler added: "The potential of the women's game is limitless and we believe we are on course to take women's football to heights that were unimaginable just a few years ago.
"As this report shows, now is the time to capitalise on the momentum we have created together, now is the time to get involved, now is the time to invest."
The research showed that a current fan base of 144million could reach 328million in 10 years' time. Followers were described as being broadly "diverse, progressive and young", with close to one in three fans of the women's game found to be new to football.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas pointed to the prospect of short-term losses for long-term gains.
Aulas, an early advocate of the women's game, said: "In the early years, there will be losses to reach a certain level and become successful. Over time, the investment will create excellent value for the club through new partners and a differentiated fan base."
That was reflected in the report stating the "majority" of leagues and teams are making a loss, relying on support from club owners or men's team budgets to remain sustainable.
Some 87 per cent of integrated clubs said involvement with women's clubs had brought about a reputational boost.
UEFA said its research showed 70 per cent of women's clubs and 50 per cent of leagues are aiming to be self-sustainable within the next decade.