“It’s fantastic to see this scheme get off the mark as we aim to make the UK the world’s number one destination for women’s sport investment.”
The Department for Business and Trade’s new Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator scheme has held its first session, with seven different sports represented.
20 top tier women’s sport leagues, teams and competitions across seven different sports took part in the first session of a new Government scheme to boost investment and increase broadcast audiences.
The Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator, launched by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), will run for a year and bring together UK-based sports rightsholders – such as leagues, teams, competitions and events – who are seeking investment together with industry experts and sports investors.
Participants included elite women’s sport competitions such as the FA Women’s Super League, England Rugby, England Netball, England and Wales Cricket Board, Volleyball England and more.
Seven different sports were represented in total: football, rugby, netball, cricket, golf, sailing and volleyball. Investment in women’s sport is growing rapidly, and the industry is expected to be worth £1 billion a year by 2030.
Industry Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
It’s fantastic to see this scheme get off the mark as we aim to make the UK the world’s number one destination for women’s sport investment.
We’ve had so many brilliant women’s sport success stories this year. I’m excited to see the overwhelming appetite from leagues, teams and competitions from right across the breadth of women’s sports, and am proud to back this fast-growing sector as it pushes boundaries and grows to the next level.
In association with Deloitte’s Sports Business Group and supported by the International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sport, the scheme is providing a series of sessions offering market insights, connections and networking events alongside comprehensive mentoring for rightsholders who are looking for investment.
This week marked the first of three flagship sessions of the scheme – the next of which takes place in January – with DBT also providing dedicated workshops for rightsholders on specific areas, such as growing broadcast revenues, unlocking new audiences and best practice for working with investors.
Holly Murdoch, The FA’s Head of Operations for the Women’s Professional Game, said:
We are proud to be involved in the new Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator initiative. This group will help to provide a platform that will benefit women’s sport across the country, through shared intelligence and support.
We have seen first-hand the incredible growth that women’s football is going through in England, with the unprecedented success of the Lionesses and the record-breaking seasons from across the Barclays Women’s Super League and the Barclays Women’s Championship.
Women’s sport has proven that it has the power to inspire people and positively impact lives – and we believe that creating this group of industry experts can be a catalyst to drive positive change for women’s sport across the country.
Tony Sutton, CEO of the Rugby Football League said:
We had an excellent first session of the Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator last night, with a really good mix of people, sports and organisations in the room which led to a high standard of debate, the benefit of some very relevant experience and some positive networking.
Personally, I made some good contacts from across the wider sports sector which I feel will be of a high value as we move through the programme.
Hannah Bruce, Head of Public Policy, England and Wales Cricket Board said:
Women’s sport is on an upward trajectory and cricket is proud to be on the journey to becoming a gender balanced sport. The first accelerator session was a fantastic opportunity for rightsholders to come together, share best practice and explore emerging trends.
We are grateful to the Department of Business and Trade and Deloitte for their support in showcasing what the best of UK women’s sport has to offer now and in the future.
Fiona McIntyre, Managing Director of the Scottish Women’s Premier League said:
I am delighted to have been selected to participate in the Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator programme on behalf of The Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL). External investment has been crucial to our recent growth, and will be even more vital as we strive to challenge women’s football in Scotland to think innovatively and ensure it meets its undoubted potential, both on and off the pitch.
This programme is exactly what women’s sport in the UK needs – creativity, innovation and support combined with the passion and motivation of those striving to raise the bar and create a new future for women’s sport in the UK.
Phoebe Tomlinson, England Rugby’s Commercial Partnerships Manager for the Women’s and Girls’ Game said:
It was hugely valuable to be part of the dynamic conversations around women’s sport. The open forum to discuss strategic plans, digital development and learn from other sports rights holders is key to the positive movement of women’s sport.
One of the highlights of the evening was learning about the robust commitment to investing in the women’s game and the exciting strides that have been made in commercialising it through innovative means.
Mark Foster, Chief Commercial Officer at England Netball said:
It was fantastic to attend the first session of the Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator programme on behalf of England Netball. The room was full of highly impressive people all with a passion and desire to support the further growth of Women’s Sport and this programme can help us all to learn from and support each other as well as benefit from the expertise of DBT & Deloitte and the channels for investment that they can help us to unlock.
Off the back of our Vitality Roses making their first World Cup Final in the summer and the recently announced re-launch of Netball Super League planned for 2025 this programme comes at the ideal time for us as a sport as we enter into a substantial growth period, which will require investment from a variety of different sources to help us to achieve our ambitious targets.
Rob Payne, National Competitions Manager at Volleyball England said:
I’m delighted to participate in the Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator programme on behalf of Volleyball England. The prospect of attracting new investment is a key priority in our ambitions to professionalise the Women’s game, and this programme will be an important stepping stone in achieving them.
A fundamental part of our organisational strategy is focused on raising the profile of the MAAREE Women’s Super League, and the opportunity to receive dedicated mentoring, network with world-leading organisations and build my knowledge through insights from industry experts will be hugely valuable to transform our sport.
Jenny Mitton, Women’s Sport Lead at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment and mentor for the scheme said:
Women’s sport is the progressive start-up to the men’s sport commercial giant, and the potential is clear to see. New audiences, innovation and aggressive growth, it has all the fundamental qualities that investors look for.
The UK is home to some of the most exciting women’s sport properties, this scheme will equip them with the knowledge to attract investment and make the UK the number one destination for elite women’s sport.
Tim Bridge, lead partner for Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said:
The Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator has already generated huge interest from parties across a range of industries, demonstrating that investors and commercial partners are alive to the opportunities that women’s sport offers.
This will be crucial for growth, providing funds to be channelled towards professionalisation, digital strategies, infrastructure, and more. This programme will carve out the clear lines of communication that are needed so that commercial partners and investors understand the growth strategies and make-up of women’s sport organisations.
Secretary General of the IWG Women and Sport, Lisa O’Keefe said:
The first session of the Women’s Sport Investment Accelerator brought together sports rightsholders from a range of sports from across the UK, which was brilliant to see, as well as industry experts and potential investors.
I heard some excellent discussions taking place about the current commercial landscape, the factors driving the growth in investment, and what the learnings have been from the past, and I’m now looking forward to seeing what opportunities will emerge.
Photo: Team GB celebrate Ellen White’s winner and third goal of the Tokyo Games. Photo: Masashi Hara / Team GB.