Monday, December 4, 2023

This football club pays women and men the same… but they are more profitable

In 2017, the Lewes Football Club, a team from the southeast of England, became the first – “and still the only”, as they remember on their website – professional or semi-professional team in the world in treating the male and female groups in the same way. He granted them the same budgets in relation to their categories and made both sections have the same training facilities. “Not only do we believe it is fair, but we also believe that It makes a lot of business sense to take equal care of our two great products“, they claim in a document transferred to this newspaper.

The initiative was called ‘Equality Pay’ and from the beginning it had positive effects on a team where its fans are the owners, a popular shareholder model widespread in British football. “Equality has worked. Not only because of the increase in attendance, also due to the fact that more people have become owners and greater sponsorships have arrived. It has also had a positive impact because many girls, in Lewes, but far beyond, tell us daily how inspired and happy this experience makes them. That is priceless,” they defend from the club.

The Lewes FC men’s players, during the last match played at The Dripping Pan. LEWES FC

Mercury/13, the investment group that wants to buy Lewes FC

What does have an appraisal is the women’s Lewes FC, for which, as confirmed to El Periódico de España, by Grupo Prensa Ibérica, the English team itself, they have received an offer of 100 million dollars (94.78 million euros at the current exchange rate). The proposal comes from Mercury/13, an investment group that was born after the Australia and New Zealand Women’s World Cup. Commanded by businesswoman Victoire Cogevina-Reynal, its objective is to be an entity that buys shares or clubs in Europe and Latin America, following the timeshare model applied by companies such as City Group either Red Bullbut only with women’s soccer teams.

“Lewes was a clear choice, because represents many basic principles of how we believe a team of women should be managed“explains Cogevina-Reynal, head of a project that claims to have “advanced negotiations with first division teams from Spain and Italy.” Furthermore, “Argentina and Uruguay will become priority targets for Mercury/13”.

But what have Lewes Football Club Women done since 2017 that their peers haven’t? He Lewes Ladies FC, as it was originally called, was founded in 2002. It began playing in the English South East Counties Football League. In 2018, one year after the activation of equal pay, the team achieved promotion to the Championshipthe second category in the Football Association system, where 12 teams play, as in the first level, the Women’s Super League.

The women’s team reached the quarterfinals of the FA Cup

“Many people talk about salary parity, but in our case we refer to equality of resources. We even have the same marketing budget, our salespeople and communications staff work for both sections,” explained Lyne Burrell, General Manager of Lewes FC, in an interview with ‘The Mirror’. The comment was directed at the movements that have taken place, especially in the context of national teams. The last Women’s World Cup distributed 104 million, ten times more than in the previous event.

Moment of Lewes FC – Manchester United from the FA CUP quarterfinals. LEWES FC

In the run-up to this tournament, Gianni Infantino, president of FIFA, said that women “they must choose the right battles” to “convince us men of what we have to do.” According to the FIFPRO union, 47% of women still do not get paid to play soccer and Only 10% have a decent salary that allows them to survive with sport. “Both the men’s and women’s teams understand that success is good for the other side. If they do well, they will benefit. It’s a much more collaborative approach.“defended Burrell, ambassador of a particular philosophy.

Last season, the flirt The Dripping Breadwhere Lewes FC has played since its founding in 1885, filled its capacity of 3,000 (but only 300 seats) to watch the quarterfinals of the Women’s FA Cup. The Lewes players lost 1-3 against Manchester United, who would reach the final of the tournament. Meanwhile, his companions have continued in the Isthmian League, a regional competition which is located at the seventh level of the English system. They also returned in 2017, when the women’s team achieved promotion to the Championship.

Fan vote will decide Lewes’ fate

Thanks to the performance of the women’s team, Lewes FC received the Premier League in 2022 an amount of 750,000 pounds that allowed the complete renovation of the Dripping Pan. The entity currently has sponsors such as Nike either Xeroa New Zealand technology company that is the exclusive ‘partner’ of women’s football in the FIFA. However, the Lewes FC model may die out with the purchase of the team by Mercury/13.

“We are in a complex situation. We have opened a consultation process on the investment process in our women’s team. This will slightly affect our property, which currently belongs 100% to fansas well as the equality model between sections,” a person familiar with the Lewes FC negotiation explains to this newspaper.

“This club has been owned by his followers for 13 years and, during that time, it has been at the forefront of promoting women’s football. It is a legacy that the club and its fans are proud of. Around 2,500 members are owners and 800 spectators regularly come to the field, some more in the women’s championship,” they defend from the Football Supporters’ Association, an organization that brings together fan groups and clubs owned by their fans. They have the ball. on its roof, built with two waters, in which each section, with the same current, has had a different performance. An uncomfortable answer for those who ask what would happen if the and the football players they charged the same.

Moment of a match between Lewes Football Club Women and Tottenham. LEWES FC


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