Women’s football faces a problem the new Matildas pay deal can't fix by itself.
While the new Matildas equal revenue-sharing agreement is a step towards equality for female footballers, current Ballarat City NPLW vice-chair Maddy Vranesic says female football still faces a significant problem.
A lot of lip service but not enough action.
“Bottom line is, females need more fans through the gate and on TV,” she said.
“Once this happens, the government, football officials, sponsors and the media can see how popular it is and put more money into it.
“When that happens the female football product will become better. It’s the old chicken and egg argument.
“The reality is until this happens, female football will be neglected. We live in an economics driven world after all.”
The new Westfield W League season starts on November 14 and last season attendances dropped significantly from the season beforehand, back to below 2,000 people per match.
This is in contrast to the Matildas packing over 20,000 to their win over Chile.
Every game this season will be streamed live on Fox Sports with at least one game per week on the ABC. People will also have access to games via online streaming through Telstra and Kayo Sports.
W-League memberships are now also being sold in their own right and compared to other elite sporting competitions they generally present good value. Meanwhile it's important to point out that A-League memberships get you in free to W-League matches.
Vranesic praised clubs for making games more accessible.
“It’s great there are specifically W-League memberships for fans who just want those games,” she said.
“Equally it's great that A-League memberships can get you in for free. At least it provides an incentive for new fans to come and try it out.”
There is a shift in the marketing of female sport across Australia.
Sam Kerr is one of Australia’s most marketable athletes. She brings in a lot of money to FFA and various corporate brands.
The achievements of our other female athletes are rightly beginning to get recognised. Tayla Harris has a statue in Federation Square. Minjee Lee, Ash Barty and Ellyse Perry are all millionaires.
Female sports administrators are much more popular than they once were too.
Heather Reid is on the FFA Board, Emma Highwood was head of women’s football. Outside of the world game, Peggy O’Neal has been rightly lauded for bringing AFL Powerhouse Richmond great success and Raelene Castle is head of Rugby.
Female sporting media personalities are getting recognition too. Tara Rushton, Mel McLaughlin and Lucy Zelic are well respected for the excellent work they do in football.
Vranesic was pleased to see so many females in influential positions in elite level sports, particularly in football.
"I think there is a huge opportunity for women to be in leadership roles across both clubs and the media. We are already seeing it through the likes of Emma Highwood and Tara Rushton for example," said Vranesic.
"A lot of clubs these days also like to have a fair ratio of men to women on their board.
"It's important to have as I'm sure most clubs will find the female side is very different to handle than that of the men's teams, and they need to represented fairly."