Government backs all 10 recommendations in Karen Carney’s review of women’s game

The review aims to capitalise on the Lionesses’ recent success (Danny Lawson/PA)
The review aims to capitalise on the Lionesses’ recent success (Danny Lawson/PA) The review aims to capitalise on the Lionesses’ recent success (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Government has given its backing to the recommendations in ex-England midfielder Karen Carney’s review of domestic women’s football, stressing the need to “collectively seize the moment and deliver sustained commercial success”.

After the independent review, titled ‘Raising The Bar: Reframing the opportunity in women’s football’, was commissioned in September 2022 and published in July, the Government has issued its official response, in which it agrees that all 10 of the strategic recommendations should be actioned.

In its efforts to help drive things forward, it is to convene an “implementation group” of the Football Association, NewCo – the new independent body set to run the Women’s Super League and Championship from 2024-25 – and other stakeholders, which will assemble in March and July next year.

The review was commissioned shortly after England won the Women’s Euros on home soil, and the Lionesses subsequently finished as runners-up at this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “I’d like to thank Karen for her detailed review which has delivered a clear blueprint for the future of women’s football from the grassroots up to the elite level.

“We must collectively seize the moment and deliver sustained commercial success for the women’s game, and fully support the FA and NewCo to drive forward the full professionalisation of the game.”

Carney said: “I’m encouraged that the Government is providing their full backing to my review and renewing their commitment to develop women’s football in the UK and fulfil its potential to be a world-beating sport. The real work begins now.”

The creation of a fully professional environment in the top two tiers is one of the key recommendations in Carney’s report, and within its backing in this area, the Government says it supports the introduction of a minimum ‘salary floor’ in the WSL from 2025-26 and in the Championship once revenues allow.

The review aims to capitalise on the Lionesses recent success (Danny Lawson/PA)
The review aims to capitalise on the Lionesses recent success (Danny Lawson/PA) The review aims to capitalise on the Lionesses’ recent success (Danny Lawson/PA)

The review also called for a dedicated broadcast slot, and the Government response says “revoking Article 48 (the Saturday 3pm blackout) for women’s football alone is one viable option.”

The Government also welcomed the Women’s FA Cup’s prize fund doubling for 2023-24 to £6million, highlighted the new £30m fund to deliver artificial pitches at grassroots sites prioritising women’s and girls’ teams that it announced this month, and said it would continue to drive forward equal access for girls and increase transparency on funding following its announcement in March of a £600m school sport package.

As well as the implementation group, the Government will establish a Board of Women’s Sports in the new year.

In a statement giving its response, the FA welcomed the review and said it would continue to discuss the recommendations with the Government.

It said with regard to continued professionalisation of the WSL and Championship that it had a “full plan to continue to raise standards across both”, and that it “firmly” supports the proposal for a dedicated broadcast slot.

On the talent pathway, the FA highlighted the new model of 73 ‘Emerging Talent Centres’, designed to increase the number and diversity of players, and said that “for transformative change, solidarity payments into the women’s game from the men’s game could help bridge the gap until women’s academies too can become financially sustainable through transfer fees.”

A statement from Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Maheta Molango said: “With the creation of the ‘NewCo’, the women’s game is in the middle of a period of unprecedented change. Clubs, leagues and governing bodies should view this as a huge opportunity to ‘bake in’ to the new structures these improvements to player rights and conditions.

“The window for that to happen is small. Government has set a clear timeline for delivery and it is vital…that it prioritises this and plays an active role in making sure it is met.”

A Kick It Out statement from chief operating officer Hollie Varney said: “Improving talent pathways, addressing the lack of diversity both on and off the pitch and increasing funding is key to the continued growth and development of women’s football.

“Kick It Out is pleased to see this has been recognised by the Government and we are excited to see how the proposals in the Karen Carney review can help elevate the women’s game.”