Women’s football in this country is growing at an incredible rate with more women taking part in football matches. And the game continues to grow with the current top league in Women’s Football – the WSL or Women’s Super League – is being expanded to two divisions of 18 teams and even more money is being pumped into the game through sponsorships and various media outlets.
And in Kent, the Kent FA has an excellent plan in place to help the game grow across the county. The Kent FA have their own successful and dedicated Representative Team who won the Southern Counties Cup last season and have been highly successful in encouraging girls and women to take part in football.
But at club level, Gillingham Ladies FC have been continuing to grow every season and are sitting joint top of the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division with possible aspirations of winning the league title this season.
For many fans at the club, the next step for them to take is the possibility to go up a level and compete in the glamour of the Women’s Super League and compete against sides such as Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City Women.
But what could a WSL franchise club with Gillingham Ladies do for the club and for the community of women’s football in the county? To put it simply, it will get more girls and ladies playing football and it will bring more fans into the club which is necessary to make it a profitable franchise within the WSL.
The current financial plan to get a WSL franchise is part financed from the FA and from the club itself – for top end WSL club its £70,000 and for a WSL2 club it’s roughly around £23,000 which is matched from the FA to setup the franchise.
So the financial implications for the team would benefit the club as it has done for new sides in the WSL like the London Bees and Manchester City Womens FC. This will have a knock on effect for clubs, having more fans turn up and watch the games.
However, there are a few issues to overcome and help get the franchise bid on tracks.
The benefits of linking with a men’s team is important to consider.
In addition, finding financial backing in order for the club to fulfil an application to be part of the WSL. They need to prove that a WSL franchise will be helpful to the growth of the game in the county of Kent.
Gillingham Ladies need to be successful on the pitch in order to show to the FA that they can be successful when it comes to getting a licence for the WSL. Hopefully this season is the start of things to come. There’s nothing like winning a trophy to prepare you for bigger and better things down the line – whether it is in one year or a couple of years.
But until then it is down to us Gills fans to get behind the team and help them achieve their goal of winning the title this season and who knows – perhaps build the future of women’s football in Kent.
So get down to see them on Sundays at Chatham Town FC, they have some big games ahead until April and get behind them – they will need it for the future.