Fans want dedicated women’s football broadcast slot, survey reveals

A poll by the Football Supporters’ Association found that 90.7% of fans want a dedicated broadcast slot for women’s football, after the move was recommended in the Carney Review last year.

The FSA published its Women’s Game Supporters Survey on Wednesday, asking fans for their views on refereeing, matchday experiences and more. One key area of discussion was the suggestion from Karen Carney’s review of the women’s game last year that broadcasters and football’s governing bodies should create a dedicated broadcast slot for women’s games in a bid to remove uncertainty around kickoff times.

Multiple times this season, fixtures have been moved for broadcast, sometimes with an adverse impact on players – Emma Hayes bemoaned the planning when broadcast arrangements meant her Chelsea side had to play just two days after a trip to Europe. Matchgoers have been affected too, such as when Manchester United’s league trip to Brighton was rescheduled for broadcast at 18:45 on a Sunday. At the time, many pointed out the impact the change would have on travelling fans.

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Eight-in-ten of the FSA’s 3,474 respondents said TV had too much influence over kickoff times – a slight increase since the start of the Women’s Super League’s new broadcast deal. While 71% said TV coverage was better than before, only 31% thought mainstream national media and TV coverage was sufficient.

The 2023 Carney Review’s recommendations, all supported by the government, included the creation of a dedicated women’s broadcast time – with the authors suggesting lifting the 3pm Saturday blackout from women’s matches and making that the slot. However, such a move seems unlikely due to reported opposition from Sky and the men’s leagues.

With NewCo set to take over the WSL and Barclays Women’s Championship ahead of the new season, Sky Sports and the BBC have renewed their rights to WSL coverage for next season after both reported record audiences in the 2023/24 campaign. Up to 44 matches will be broadcast. CEO Nikki Doucet previously said NewCo agreed with the Carney Review’s recommendations and were “exploring” the option of allowing women’s games to be shown during the 3pm slot, but this has not materialised for the 24/25 campaign.

Deborah Dilworth, head of women’s football at the FSA, said: “We will use the findings to support our work in advocating for supporters across all levels of the women’s game as we work with NewCo, the FA, government and other stakeholders in the game, to ensure their views are heard.”

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