"Women should get paid as much as men"

"Women should get paid as much as men"

Women should get paid as much as men

Katie Zelem  - Liverpool Ladies + England International


If I had a pound for every time I heard that, I wouldn’t need to bother playing football... 


Being in a women’s football environment, you often hear how the players should be treated better or become equal to the men but this is usually from armchair supporters who know little about the game. 


For any one person to be paid the enormous amounts of money that some of the top male footballers are receiving, there has to be a market for it. It’s not as simple as playing a 90-minute game every Saturday and picking up your money. Male players are under huge amounts of pressure from both the club paying their salaries and the fans paying to watch them. 


Although it is pretty clear that male footballers salaries are way too high, if the money is offered to them, they aren’t going to turn it down. It is no wonder clubs are able to offer players hundreds of thousands of pounds per week when in the ‘2014/15 season 20 league clubs collectively generated €18.2m per day’ (Deloitte, 2016). More importantly, 9 of these 20 clubs were in England. In comparison to an English Women’s Football team in the top-flight division – Super League, who have ‘access to £70,000 per annum from The Football Association’ (FAWSL, 2017). It is clear to see why the salary gap is so large. Although clubs are able to acquire additional funds, the money usually comes from the backing of their men’s side. 


The main reason women footballers will not see a salary close to their male counterparts is due to the revenue streams. As highlighted previously, women’s football sees only a fraction of the revenue that the men’s does. There are three main revenue streams within football; Match day, broadcasting and commercial revenue. 


The majority of the match day revenue is comprised from ticket sales, season-ticket holders, hospitality packages and programme sales. This is the income generated from hosting a football match. To watch a ‘Premier League game at Arsenal you can be looking at paying up to £92 for an adult ticket’ (BBC Sport, 2016), in comparison to a ‘Ladies game for the cost of just £6’ (Arsenal Ladies, 2017). The huge difference in price is due to the amount of people wanting to attend the games. 


Broadcasting revenue is income generated from selling broadcasting rights to show football matches on TV. This can include selling both domestic and international revenue rights, as well as domestic league and cup competition games. The Premier League is currently the highest generating league in the world, with an increase of 29% in 2013/14 equalling £735m’ (Deloitte, 2015). In the Premier League domestic broadcast revenue is divided on a 50:25:25 basis. 50% is divided equally between clubs, 25% on a merit basis and the final 25% distributed as a facilities fee. 


Women’s football isn’t quite as structured when it comes to broadcasting, usually only the top three teams are shown on TV in order to attempt to attract more viewers. 


Commercial revenue derives from sponsorships, merchandising and new media. This is income generated from selling the brand. This is where the women’s game in England falls behind, as many of the players are unknown and the league isn’t publicised greatly meaning sponsorships are difficult to source. This is unlike the mens game in which ‘Manchester United made a sponsorship agreement with Chevrolet worth £357m’ (Deloitte, 2013). 


The three revenue streams highlight the causes in equality of salary, but it is put into perspective when you look at the highest paid English male and female footballer. Steph Houghton, England and Manchester City captain is stated to ‘earn an annual salary of £65,000’ (Empowering Women, 2017). With her ‘England central contract making up £26,000 and her club salary accounting for £35,000, just £4000 of her yearly income comes from sponsorships’ (BBC Sport, 2015). In comparison to Wayne Rooney, who is the highest English earner gains $6m per annum on endorsements alone. His humongous ‘salary equates to $20m, leaving him with a total of $26m each year’ (Forbes, 2017). 


The statistics make it obvious that male and female football is not comparable due to the much higher attendances and amount of interest in men’s football. Due to this, the men's game generates more profit. Overall, it has illustrated that male and female players' salaries are what they are in relation to what their sport is earning. 


It may not be fair but not many things in life are and that is something most people in women’s football have learnt to deal with. ‘Women’s players aren’t asking for equal pay’ (MEN, 2016) by any stretch of the imagination because many know this is not possible. An increase in salary to allow all players to live comfortably without having to worry about a second job should be a necessity.