England’s players have reached an agreement with the Football Association over the bonus dispute that had hit the build-up to the start of this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
An undisclosed sum will now be paid to each player as a bonus for their performance in Australia, where they reached their World Cup final, in addition to the $195,000 (£159,000) that each player was guaranteed to receive from Fifa for finishing the tournament as runners-up.
The Lionesses had been calling for the FA to essentially “top up” that Fifa amount with a performance-related reward and had criticised the governing body on the eve of the tournament for not reaching a performance-related bonus deal prior to travelling to Australia. Both parties are said to be very happy with the agreed deal.
According to sources, the players had also been negotiating a financial settlement to retrospectively cover a perceived shortcoming in the squad’s income from commercial deals since they won the European Championship last year.
Telegraph Sport understands that the offer of backpay put to the players by the FA earlier this summer was just under £800,000, to be shared between the entire squad. On Thursday, sources close to discussions declined to disclose how much the sum eventually agreed upon was but it is understood to have been a resolution that both parties are happy with. The FA also declined to comment on financial details of the deal that has been reached.
The Lionesses now also want to negotiate a longer-term deal that sets in place arrangements for what percentage of commercial deals the players will receive in future. Those “positive” conversations are going to continue.
It is understood the FA’s chief executive Mark Bullingham led the negotiations with the players personally. The Lionesses are believed to have negotiated the deal themselves earlier this week after arriving at their training camp at St George’s Park, without third-party moderators acting on their behalf.
Captain Millie Bright revealed on Thursday that a deal has now been reached following a meeting that is understood to have taken place earlier this week. But she added this was “bigger” than resolving the bonus issue and that the squad would continue to push for improvements for the women’s game.
“We’ve come to an agreement,” said Bright, speaking ahead of Friday’s Nations League game against Scotland. “But I think it is bigger than just the bonus. For us it’s about becoming world leaders on and off the pitch. As we know the women’s game is evolving very quickly, and conversations like this need to happen, in order to make sure that 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.”
Asked if the chapter had now closed, in terms of the pay negotiations that were unresolved prior to the World Cup, Bright replied: “Yes, definitely.”
Reacting to the news, head coach Sarina Wiegman said: “I was expecting this. As I said last week, the conversation was always going well but the World Cup was ahead of us so we needed to stop those conversations, to [re-]start them up after the World Cup and that is literally what happened.
“[Even though] they didn’t come to an agreement then [before the World Cup], the communication and connections were there all the time. There has been communication and now this part is solved and we can move forward.
“Of course, this makes me very happy because it is good for the players and the women’s game to move forward and take the next step. It is so good for us, so that we can focus on football, which we did anyway in the World Cup too because we were not distracted by discussions at that moment.”