The Football Association has been approached by London-based private equity firm Bridgepoint over purchasing a large minority stake in the Women’s Super League.
According to a report by Sky News, as part of its proposed purchase Bridgepoint will own the WSL’s commercial rights if a deal can be made. According to sources, the competition’s clubs, which include Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal, would also own stakes in the company alongside the FA under the new plan.
However, those involved have told the news outlet that the discussions are only at a ‘very preliminary stage’, but that there is serious interest from the private equity firm. Despite the negotiations being at an early stage the 12 member clubs are understood to have been briefed on the proposal.
The news of interest from Bridgepoint over the WSL could affect previous statements made by the Premier League, with the competition revealing its intent to purchase the women’s football league.
Speaking to MP’s in June, Richard Masters, Premier League’s chief executive explained that conversations are still ongoing between the two entities, however no immediate plans have been made.
He said: “We decided collectively – that is the Premier League and the FA together and the WSL and Women’s Championship Board – that now was not the right time, but we will return to that topic at some point in the near future.”
Bridgepoint is no newcomer to sports investment having owned MotoGP’s rights-holder Dorna since 2006. The proposed investment is also a testament to the growth of the women’s game in the UK which has seen a rise in popularity since the WSL became a fully professional competition in 2018.
Any deal to help promote and commercialise the WSL will not only enhance the competition but will benefit the FA, particularly as the global health pandemic has severely affected the governing bodies revenue stream.
It was reported last month that the FA expects a £300m revenue drop with redundancies already announced to reduce the financial hit, however, the women’s football budget will not be affected. The Telegraph has reported that the WSL currently costs the FA around £7m a year.
Any decision over the future of the WSL will be taken to a board comprising three independent directors, club representatives and FA executives.