The prize money for the Women’s FA Cup will increase to nearly £6 million this year, but there are concerns about how the additional funds will be distributed.
The upcoming £3 million increase will result in a higher prize of £430,000 for the winners of the competition, on top of any money earned in earlier rounds. This change will only apply to clubs participating in the third round or later, starting in December.
In a declaration, Lewes, a team in the Championship, commended the rise as progress but also stated that “teams further down the hierarchy deserve more.”
Lewes have long campaigned for equal FA Cup prize money and the £2,970,250 increase to £5,994,000, alongside the prize money for the men’s FA Cup having been frozen at £19,829,800, has meant the gap has shrunk a little.
Unfortunately, despite the fact that women’s teams will receive funding for competing in the initial rounds of the tournament, ranging from the first qualifying round to the second round proper, the amount has been fixed at £1,854,000. This results in a significant decrease of 31.5% in their portion of the overall prize money, dropping from 62.4% in the previous season to 30.9% in the current one. As a result, there will be a larger disparity in financial resources among clubs in the tournament.
Maggie Murphy, CEO of Lewes, stated that the FA is showing their dedication to the development of women’s football by significantly increasing the prize money for the FA Cup. However, she expressed concern about the allocation of the increased funds only towards the later rounds. She emphasized the importance of considering the limited resources for clubs in lower tiers who also deserve a chance to benefit from these funds.
The Football Association noted that the prize money for the Women’s FA Cup has increased for the second consecutive season. They stated, “The previous increase focused on boosting the prize fund for the earlier rounds of the tournament, from the first qualifying round to the second proper round, benefiting clubs in the lower tiers.”
The Football Association also announced that the additional funds will be available for the Women’s Super League and Championship teams when they enter the tournament. In addition, 28 teams from outside the professional game will participate in the third round, resulting in a minimum prize pot of £404,000 for clubs in tiers three and below of the women’s football pyramid. This is a significant increase compared to last season’s earnings at the same stage.
The previous season’s increase in funding and the distribution system that favored lower-level clubs was originally praised, but the current distribution model is now being seen by some as a regression. In their statement, Lewes expressed concern, stating: “We do not want the Women’s FA Cup to become like the men’s, where 67% of the prize money goes to Premier League clubs.”