Since 71 Awards 2020/21: Podcast of the Year – The Offside Rule Podcast: WSL Edition

Despite the season’s disappointing and abrupt conclusion we still wanted to reward the amazing work that goes on within women’s football.

There has been a pleasing rise in the number of top quality women’s football podcasts available so this category was a tough one to judge. Obviously we couldn’t give the award to ourselves so that accolade goes to The Offside Rule: WSL Edition.

During the 2012/13 season Lynsey HooperKait Borsay and Hayley McQueen launched an all-female-fronted football podcast born out of frustration at the lack of representation of women in the industry. The weekly podcast discussed men’s football stories and was one of the only outlets for updates on the women’s game too, with special guest Sue Smith and co-presenters from the world of women’s football, such as Alex Scott and Eniola Aluko.

In 2015 The Offside Rule was one of the few outlets over in Canada covering the entirety of England’s successful run at the World Cup. Kait and Lynsey published daily podcasts and video, covering all the games, right the way through to the final

In 2019 The Offside Rule was acquired by Muddy Knees Media with the aim of securing vital investment to take their coverage of the women’s game forward. On the back of a successful podcast covering the World Cup in France, Kait and Lynsey launched and fronted a new podcast, The Offside Rule: WSL Edition, focusing on women’s football, including the Lionesses, Women’s Super League and Championship.

Freelance news reporter, Kait Borsay, was one of the first females to be associated with talkSPORT, anchoring their TV show, talkSPORT Live. After covering sport for Sky Sports, Sky News and Arsenal and Chelsea’s own TV channels, Kait can now be heard hosting her own show on Times Radio Friday to Sunday nights between 10 pm and 1 am.

Lynsey Hooper is likely to be known by plenty of football fans in the UK as a regular on Prime Video and the BBC. Behind the scenes, she’s a life-long Wolverhampton Wanderers fan, but professionally Lynsey cut her teeth at Sky Sports, ITV Central Sport and Liverpool’s own TV channel LFC TV. Prior to discovering the podcast, it was Lynsey’s witty performances on BBC Five Live’s Fighting Talk that quickly led me to become one of her biggest fans. 

Lynsey (left) and Kait (right)

In February it was announced that the WSL Edition would be going off the air due to a lack of sponsorship to fund the podcast. Fans rallied and launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds required, however, this gesture was politely declined by the pair who felt that for long enough businesses have neglected women’s football and it was time for one to step up. 

This is when Football Manager stepped in. Miles Jacobson, Studio Director of Sports Interactive, the team behind the Football Manager video games said: “It might seem strange that a computer game that doesn’t feature women’s football have stepped in to ensure that a podcast about women’s football stays on the air, but we’ve been very clear in the past that the only reason that we don’t yet have women’s football in the game is one of financial viability, a problem that is only highlighted by the potential demise of a great podcast about the sport.

We need excellent shows like The Offside Rule: WSL Edition to continue to push the sport to more and more people so that our dreams of adding women’s leagues to FM can be fulfilled in the hopefully not too distant future but without it, and shows like it, the sport itself has a much smaller chance to break through that glass ceiling that it’s constantly facing despite the great work that the clubs and FA are doing to help it get there.”

This allowed the show to return to our podcast feeds within a matter of weeks.

On winning the award Lynsey said, “We’re thrilled to be recognised by Since 71 for our WSL edition podcast. The team have gone to great lengths to provide professional analysis and get a number of players and managers on the show each and every week. Particular mention goes to our producer Abi Paterson who has kept the show sounding slick and booked all of the guests across the series.

“Having been on the brink of having to cancel the show completely, we also want to extend our gratitude to Football Manager for saving the show and recognising the importance of keeping podcasts like ours on the market in order to keep growing interest in WSL.

“We must also thank to Lucy Oliva, another one of the show’s producers, our brilliant social media team and website editors, Kirsty Roarty and Tom Dean, who with our team of writers over at offsiderulepodcast.com, produce plenty of women’s football content to compliment the podcast offering. There will be much more to come next season.”

Congratulations to everyone involved. We hope to be able to present you with the award in the near future.