The Football Association is looking at moving the Women’s Super League and Championship into a new subsidiary company that could start in January, Baroness Sue Campbell has said.
The FA’s director of women’s football spoke about the plans as she confirmed the organisation had turned down offers from private equity companies.
The Daily Mail on Monday reported the FA had rejected a £150million offer from one to form a rebranded WSL next season.
When asked about that on Tuesday, Campbell said: “We’ve had offers from private equity companies, we’ve just said no to them.
“The board has never considered a private equity offer. Offers have come in, we’ve just said no. I don’t remember that number (£150m). It was over £100m, I remember one of them was.”
Campbell said that, having been advised against private equity investment, the FA had been in consultation with clubs over the creation of a new subsidiary company – with January a target – that could serve as an interim structure, with a view to an independent entity being formed in the future.
“We are looking at moving the two professional leagues into its own company,” said Campbell, who was speaking at a launch event ahead of the start of the Women’s Euros on Wednesday.
“We’re still a few years away from that in terms of financial sustainability, but we’re working with the clubs to create a company which will be an FA subsidiary. So the FA will still be there, if you like, as a shareholder, but the subsidiary will grow.
“We looked at what the financial needs were. We involved a company called Rothschilds to explore the gap between what we felt we wanted to invest to really grow the game, and where we were. They came back, gave us some advice, and the advice was not to do private equity at this time. Their advice was very different, we followed that advice and we’re moving ahead, we hope, with a new company starting in January.”
Campbell added: “We’re working with the clubs now towards that. We’ve been out to consultation with the clubs, had it back and the best way I think I can describe it is it isn’t green but it’s amber and progress carefully.
“We have to do a little bit more work over the autumn and take it back to the clubs, because this has to be something they buy into and are happy with.
“Our priority is we don’t want to launch an independent company until we’re sure of its sustainability financially. And to be honest, that won’t happen until we get the next broadcast deal. So that’s a couple of years away. So we’ve said we’ll do this, what is essentially an interim structure, from January 2023 through to 2026.”
Asked if clubs were keen to have more of a stranglehold on things, Campbell said: “It’s very different. If you go to the Championship clubs, they’re quite happy with where they are and very confident in the FA.
“If you go to the top end of the WSL then of course their experience is the Premier League and they want more independence and more say. We respect and understand that, but we have to look after the whole game.
“We’re trying to take the whole structure with us, and not just be driven by the ambition of a few at the top, which we fully respect, but our job is the whole game.
“The important thing is we don’t let the head leave the body. If the head leaves the body then there is no integrity to the football pyramid, and I think they understand that.
“They are pushing us and I wouldn’t want any different. They are ambitious. I am ambitious, but I have to weigh up the ambition of the whole game with that of a few people. It doesn’t mean we’re going to fall out – we’re not. They have some tough questions but we’ve talked it through and I think we are in a good place.
“We’re doing it all in consultation with clubs and I want to emphasise that we’re going nowhere until we’ve had final consultation agreement with the clubs in autumn.”
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