'Significant increase' in Women's FA Cup prize money promised amid criticism and planned protests

·3-min read
Significant rise in Women's FA Cup prize money promised amid criticism and planned protests - GETTY IMAGES
Significant rise in Women's FA Cup prize money promised amid criticism and planned protests - GETTY IMAGES

The Football Association's pledge to "significantly increase" the prize fund for the Women's FA Cup has been welcomed by politicians this weekend, after a week of mounting pressure on the governing body to do something to address the disparity between the men's and women's cup prize pots.

The women's competition currently receives less than two per cent of the prize money that is awarded in the men's cup overall, and the winning side in this weekend's Women's FA Cup fourth round will collect £2,000 each compared to the £90,000 given to each of the victors at the same stage of the men's competition.

Telegraph Sport understands fans are planning protests about the issue at all 14 of Sunday's remaining ties in the women's fourth round, despite an announcement from the FA on Friday that the prize fund would rise by an unspecified but "significant" amount next term. The protests' organisers have said they welcome the FA's pledge, but they will not stop their fight for an "equal FA Cup".

Labour's Julie Elliott, the member of parliament for Sunderland Central, convened a debate which took place in Parliament on Wednesday, raising discussions about the current and future state of the women's game after Championship side Coventry United ran into financial difficulty in December. At that debate, the FA was criticised by MPs for the amount of money awarded to women's sides in the cup compared to men's and sources have said that that public pressure at least partly contributed to the FA's statement on Friday.

Responding to the announcement, Julie Elliott MP told Telegraph Sport: "It is great news that the FA have listened to fans, and increased the FA Cup final prize money. I look forward to seeing the detail.

"This marks the end of an extremely positive week for the future of women’s football. On Wednesday I announced in Parliament the creation of new standardised contracts that provide vital maternity and sickness cover to women playing football, and the Minister finally announced a prospective change to the Listed Events regime to increase visibility for women’s football.

"We all know there is still so much work to do, but we have undoubtedly made large strides forward this week. Thank you to all those that work hard to ensure that women’s football gets the respect it deserves."

The FA added: "The FA has had a clear plan for women’s football that has seen it become one of the biggest successes across sport in our country. To drive this growth we invested over £50 million into our initial ‘Gameplan for Growth’ strategy.

"We built on this with even more investment in our ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ strategy that launched last year, with a long-term plan to work with WSL and Women’s Championship clubs to accelerate growth of audiences and revenues."

Coventry United, whose financial problems had sparked more conversations about the health of the women's game, were saved from liquidation by an eleventh-hour takeover earlier in January and will be among the sides in cup action on Sunday, as they travel to lower-league side Billericay Town, hoping to avoid an upset.

Arguably the pick of Sunday's games sees Manchester United travel to third-tier Bridgwater United, while Arsenal host London City Lionesses of the Championship in a game that is live on the BBC.

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