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15th July 2022 - By: Amy Gillin

Women’s Football: Commercial Growth

The UEFA Women’s Euros are now in full swing and the competition heating up. The championship is set to be a record-breaking tournament for engagement and commercial activity in women’s football.

With the huge crowds that have been greeting the teams, it is hard to envision that England had no rivals in their bid to host the tournament. The FIFA Women’s World Cup hosted by France in 2019 was a massive tournament in the sport, showcasing the commercial opportunities the tournaments hold.

Now UEFA have announced they expect a global audience of over 250 million to watch the championships. This coincides with over 700,000 tickets sold to live games – more than double the attendees of the 2017 tournament.

Growing interest in women’s football

This shows how far women’s football has come in such a short space of time. For comparison: England first hosted the tournament with just eight teams and 21,000 spectators in 2005. Back then, Germany secured the title against Norway at Blackburn Rovers’ Ewood Park. Now, however, the Lionesses group stage games are sold out and no seats remain for the final at Wembley, with an expected attendance of 90,000 supporters. Tickets have also been purchased in 99 countries, including nations such as the US, China, and Australia. In total, around 20% of match-going fans will be coming from overseas.

These staggering numbers have all been helped by an affordable ticket pricing structure. For example, for some games a family of four could attend for as little as £30. The highest-category seats for the final costs only £50. In contrast, the men’s final tickets started from around £250. This affordability ensures that the tournament is accessible for everyone, and UEFA says that 43% of ticket purchases so far have come from female fans. An encouraging outlook for the future of the game.

Commercial opportunities in women’s sports

The diversity of the audience is a big draw for the brands that have partnered with the tournament. There are 13 official partners, including the likes of Heineken, Adidas, Visa, Volkswagen and Hublot.

UEFA’s decision to unbundle the sponsorship rights to its women’s football properties from the men’s has significantly lowered the cost of entry for new partners. Previously they would have been priced out of the tournament by more traditional sponsors. As a result, there are more businesses sponsoring the tournaments that are not commonly associated with sport. This suggests that brands are seeing opportunities in women’s sports that better meet their needs and more closely align with their values. Starling, for one, is a bank led by a female founder in a male-dominated industry. So it’s no mystery why they decided to sponsor the tournament.

As well as the sponsorship investment and the sell-out crowds, a report conducted by EY estimates the tournament will generate £54 million in economic activity for the cities staging matches – something that hasn’t gone unnoticed.

England might have been unopposed for this event, but UEFA received record interest in hosting the next edition in 2025. The potential of the tournament and the growing business behind major women’s sporting events is evident for all to see.