England’s Football Association is starting a five-year plan to boost women’s soccer following the sport’s success at the London 2012 Olympics.
Britain’s women’s team broke attendance and television viewing records on its way to the quarterfinals, according to the F.A. The England team qualified undefeated for the women’s 2013 European Championships in Sweden, with its final two home games shown live on terrestrial television.
“Women’s football is the area with the most potential for growth in the nation’s favorite game,” F.A. Chairman David Bernstein said in a statement on the association’s website. “We are determined to lead that development at every level and have created a robust plan for doing so using all our resources and knowledge.”
The F.A. said it will create an “Elite Performance Unit” and appoint a head of elite development.
For the first time in its 149-year history, the F.A. will develop a commercial program for women’s soccer to make it financially sustainable. It will sell the commercial rights for women’s matches separately from rights for the men’s game. The governing body said it will also try to secure more television coverage and strike sponsorship deals to boost the profile of the women’s game.
The F.A. wants women’s soccer to become the second-biggest team sport after the men’s game by 2018. The women’s version is currently in fourth place, behind men’s soccer, cricket and rugby.
Manchester United, a 19-time English soccer champion in the men’s game, yesterday said it had no plans to roll out a professional women’s side.
“I’ve got no idea,” United vice chairman Ed Woodward said at a press briefing in London, when asked why the club didn’t field a women’s pro team. “It’s not been discussed at board level since I’ve been here.”