Everyone involved in Since 71 is excited about the return of the Women’s FA Cup, we’ve got some wonderful ties to look forward to. Including Manchester United travelling to Bridgwater United, Nottingham Forest hosting Manchester City and Southampton FC taking on Bristol City.
While we’d all love to spend our time focusing on what is happening on the pitch it is important that we don’t get distracted from the off the pitch issues surrounding the competition as well, namely the issue of prize money. This is not something new, we have supported the campaign to increase the prize money since 2019 when we became aware of it thanks to Lewes’ open letter to the FA demanding change.
You can read the full letter here, but there is one quote that still rings so true to this day, “…we know that you [The FA] consider the FA Cup to be a good way to redistribute wealth to the grassroots in the men’s game. That same FA Cup provides an ideal mechanism for financially irrigating the women’s game. So we are suggesting a radical increase in the women’s FA Cup prize fund. Let’s get these prize funds to a level that we would all be able to tell our children about without embarrassment (try explaining the disparities in prize money to a child and you’ll see what we mean).
“That would at a stroke increase the level of focus and seriousness paid to the women’s game by existing clubs by an order of magnitude. It would create dozens of clubs who are newly able sustainably to compete at the top level of football. In turn, that would create the potential to expand the current 11-team top leagues to a number more in line with the men’s game, creating many more matches and therefore opportunities for fans, sponsors and TV companies. It would give a huge boost to the England team by greatly increasing the pool of players training and competing at a high level.”
I held a personal view that equal prize money was unrealistic in the short term but a significant increase, perhaps matching the FA Vase should be more realistic. To give you an example, The winners of this round in the Women’s FA Cup receive £2,000, in the men’s FA Cup it is £67,500 and in the FA Vase it is £5,250. However, being part of the Women’s Football Fan Collective (WFFC) I have taken on board many of the arguments for equal prize money and I am right behind it!
If you’re not aware of the WFFC then it was launched as an independent group consisting of fans of women’s football in England with the purpose of protecting and promoting the women’s game. The WFFC are this weekend inviting every women’s football supporter to voice a collective demand for equal Women’s FA Cup prize money.
Since the campaign began I have seen detractors shooting down the idea for a variety of reasons, most commonly that women’s football doesn’t make as much money as the men’s game. None of us would argue against that fact but I would want those saying that to reflect on why that is and why that is acceptable. Most would hopefully come to the conclusion that it just isn’t acceptable.
Bristol City fan and Vixencast host, DM Withers, described how they believe in “equal pay for work of equal value” and that is something that resonated with me because it is so true. With the FA being a non-profit organisation and there is significant money available then they should be showing that they value the women’s game and that they recognise the importance of investment. Especially because the game is making up for lost time due to that famous fifty-year ban imposed by them!
We are encouraging fans to get behind the WFFC movement and call to increase the prize money. On the 51st and 71st minutes of every fourth round tie, we’d love you to join the chant:
The reason those times were chosen is that the 51st minute marks the 51 years since the first Women’s FA Cup final and the 71st minute is in honour of 1971, the year when the FA’s ban on women’s football was finally lifted. If you’re unable to attend a game then please be sure to share your support on social media by using the hashtag #EqualFACup.
There will be a Twitter Space this evening at 7pm, get involved to find out more. Find out and set a reminder by clicking here.
Photo: James Boyes