We predict that women’s elite sports will generate global revenues in excess of €1.1 billion in 20243. Football will be the most valuable women's sport, with revenue of over €500m4 expected to be generated worldwide in 2024. As leagues and clubs continue to professionalise across Europe and further afield, we expect that growing viewership and sponsor interest will create opportunities for clubs to further strengthen matchday and commercial revenue. We expect that football clubs, and leagues globally, could account for as much c.26% of the total elite women's sports market in 20243.
3 Deloitte TMT Predictions 2024
4 Exchange rate used - €1 = $1.09
In 2023/24, more domestic league matches will be played in the main stadia than ever before. Arsenal Women is scheduled to play five WSL games at the Emirates Stadium, while Chelsea Women and Manchester United Women will play four and two matches at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, respectively. We expect that clubs will continue to host a significant number of European matches in their main stadia, especially through the knockout stages of the UWCL.
At the time of writing, Manchester City Women (Joie Stadium), Chelsea Women (Kingsmeadow), and Real Madrid Femenino (Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium) play in dedicated stadia for their women’s club, while Brighton & Hove Albion Women have announced plans for a purpose-built stadium for their women’s club. As women’s football matures, a growing number of clubs may consider dedicated stadia.
We also expect sponsors and partners to continue to express interest in entering agreements exclusively with women’s clubs. These deals offer commercial partners access to a broader demographic and an opportunity to potentially drive greater return on investment in comparison to the men’s game, given they often present a lower cost of entry. In recent years we have seen a number of such partnerships, including Arsenal Women with Stella McCartney, Chelsea Women with Lindahls and FC Barcelona Femení with Rilastil.
As the sport grows, and changes to competition formats and scheduling take effect, broadcast revenues are also predicted to increase. With audience interest, attendances and participation in women’s football at an all-time high in the UK, the WSL’s current negotiations with broadcast partners for its domestic rights from 2024/25 are expected to see a material uplift in value. Additionally, as the UWCL expands to an 18-team competition from 2025/26 along with the addition of a second-tier competition, more clubs will receive UEFA distributions.
Given that the women’s game within the mainstream is at a formative stage, there is a real opportunity to define the sport in a global context through imaginative thinking across all facets, including player welfare, commercial relationships, governance structures and business models. The establishment of the NewCo in England to operate the two professional divisions for women’s football could prove to be a watershed moment for the sport in its growth story.