Millie Bright says England players and the FA have settled dispute over bonuses

Millie Bright says an agreement has been reached between England players and the Football Association with regard to the dispute that has been ongoing over bonuses and commercial structures.

Just prior to the summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the Lionesses in a statement tweeted by Bright expressed their disappointment at the matter having not been resolved before the tournament, and said they had decided to pause talks with the intention of revisiting them after.

Asked for an update on the situation on Thursday, Bright – who captained the European champions at the World Cup, where they finished as runners-up – told a press conference: “We’ve had a really good conversation with the FA.

“I think that conversation was needed, and the conversations will be ongoing moving forward between the leadership team and the FA, (with the) support of the PFA. We’re really positive that moving forward things will be different.

“We have come to an agreement, but I think it’s bigger than just the bonus. For us it’s about being world leaders on and off the pitch, and as we know the women’s game is evolving very quickly and conversations like this need to happen in order to make sure in all areas we’re at the top of our game.

“The conversation was extremely positive and as players we feel really confident moving forward about the structure we now have in place.”

Amid the dispute, England’s players were understood to have been left disappointed by the fact the FA was not following the lead of the Australian and American federations – where collective bargaining agreements are in place – in paying bonuses on top of the prize money ring-fenced for players in its payments to national associations by FIFA.

When asked what other areas of discussion there had been aside from bonuses, Bright said: “A variety of things. I think it’s the whole package that comes with the women’s game. It is more than just finances, it’s everything to do with the next generation.

“We are extremely lucky and privileged that we have amazing facilities, we already set the tone in many areas.

“I think those conversations are also just about checking in, and it’s about building those relationships so that if a problem does crop up we are in a position where we can have an open, honest conversation and be more solution-based.

“That’s why we felt really positive from that conversation as players, because we want to be more solution-based moving forward.

“I just feel lucky we’re in a position to come together and, one, come to an agreement, but actually, moving forward we are building a new structure where we can have more of that open dialogue to make sure everything stays where it needs to be.”

England boss Sarina Wiegman said: “It looks really good and that makes me very happy because it’s good for the players, and good for the women’s game to move forward and take the next step.”

England manager Sarina Wiegman during a training session at St George’s Park (Joe Giddens/PA)
Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses take on Scotland on Friday (Joe Giddens/PA)

Bright and Wiegman were speaking ahead of England’s first match since the World Cup, their opener in the inaugural Women’s Nations League against Scotland at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Friday.

Scotland’s dispute with their national association was resolved last week, the team withdrawing legal action against the Scottish Football Association over equal pay and treatment claims having secured what captain Rachel Corsie described as “parity”.

Asked about that and how proud she was of trying to make change on behalf of women across the game, Bright said: “I think one thing in the women’s game is although we’re opponents on match day, we all work together in terms of the changes we make within our environment that could be beneficial to somebody else.

“I think it’s always about growing the game and we have to keep evolving, keep moving with where the game’s at and changes that need to be made. It’s a really proud and positive movement.”

Bright also emphasised regarding the saga involving Spain since they beat England in the World Cup final that the Lionesses “stand in solidarity with the players”, adding: “Hopefully change is happening.”