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

The Football Association has promised to make a “significant increase” to the prize money for the Women’s FA Cup from next season, amid criticism from fans, managers and members of parliament around the current disparity between the men’s and women’s prize funds.

Fans are planning to stage protests at more than a dozen ties in this weekend’s fourth round, where the winning sides will receive just £2,000 – compared to the £90,000 awarded to each winner at the same stage in the men’s competition.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Alison McGovern, the Labour MP for Wirral South and the shadow minister for employment, said there was “no objective justification” for the fact the victors at this season’s women’s final at Wembley will be awarded £25,000 while the men’s winners will take home £1.8m. Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, whose side are the current cup holders, called the gap “unbelievable” and “completely unacceptable”, ahead of their trip to Aston Villa on Saturday.

An FA spokesperson said on Friday: “Whilst the [Women’s FA Cup] doesn’t yet drive commercial revenue to fund prize money growth, The FA Board has agreed a significant increase in prize money to support the competition’s continued development. More details are to be announced in due course and the additional prize money will come into effect from the 2022/23 season.”

The winners of the men’s non-league FA Trophy (£60,000) and FA Vase (£30,000) will each receive more than the Women’s FA Cup winners this term. No details have yet been given as to precisely how big an increase the women’s competition will see next season, and the governing body has stopped short of promising to introduce an equal fund with the men’s FA Cup.

The campaigners who have been organising this weekend’s planned protests, the Women’s Football Fan Collective, said in response: “We welcome news of additional prize money and we will comment further once more details have been released by the FA. Until then, we will continue with our campaign. Our central argument still stands. The FA is a not-for-profit entity that has a remit to redistribute money across the game.”

Speaking before the FA released their statement, Aston Villa manager Carla Ward said: “I have to agree [with Emma Hayes]. We’re not asking for equal pay [in salaries], because we know where the games are at commercially, but when we’re talking about prize money, that comes from the FA, that’s something the FA can control, so it’s disappointing, it’s not OK. It needs looking at.”

The FA’s statement 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. The growth at all levels has been game-changing and we’re incredibly proud of the progress that we have led.

“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.”

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