Two-thirds of English football league clubs have all-male boards, new research finds | UK News

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According to a new report, two-thirds of all football clubs in the top four tiers of the English league system have all-male boards.

The report from Fair Game, a campaign group made up of representatives from a number of league clubs, found that 40% of Premier League clubs and 83% of EFL Championship clubs have only men as managers.

It also revealed that only 11.1% of Premier League club board members and 4.2% of Championship club board members were women.

Released on International Women’s Day, the report, titled The Gender Divide That Fails Football’s Bottom Line, revealed that gender inequality operates at all levels of football.

Fair Game says that if gender discrimination can be tackled, it has the potential to increase club revenue as more women participate and attend games.

Ban on women’s football ‘destroyed many girls’ dreams’

A female director of an English non-league club, elected Lewes FC manager Karen Dobres, called the report’s findings “shameful”.

She believes the Football Association‘s ban on women’s football from 1921 to 1971 is the cause.

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Lewes FC have made equality, diversity and inclusion central to the club

She told Sky News: “It crushed the dreams of several girls just because they attracted bigger crowds than the men.

“Women’s football is a huge growth product with incredible potential both economically, but also morally, as it challenges old-fashioned femininity and breaks down the stereotypes that prevent girls and women from reaching their full potential.”

Dobres believes the quadrupling of attendance at women’s matches at Lewes FC in recent years shows that “equality is a rising tide that lifts all our boats”.

In 2017, Lewes FC averaged 120 supporters per women’s game. But now, they welcome an average of 586 – not far from the 610 men.

Lewes, a semi-professional club, has also designed a dedicated room for mothers to breastfeed in a safe environment while enjoying the game.

Sign up at Lewes FC Stadium for those wishing to breastfeed
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Register at Lewes FC Stadium for those wishing to breastfeed during matches

Dobres said all of these decisions were made possible “thanks to gender equality in board meetings.”

The East Sussex club have five women out of a possible 12 on their board.

Lewes FC are now calling on more established clubs to follow in their footsteps, “welcoming undesirable women into football”.

The scheme launched by the FA has failed to recruit enough women into leadership positions

A program targeting the recruitment of women into leadership positions was launched by the FA in October 2020.

But last November, the Football Association reported that the clubs and governing bodies that had joined the scheme had collectively failed to meet any of the recruitment targets set.

Edleen John, FA Director of General Affairs, said: “The commitment to the Football Leadership Diversity Code shows that there is a strong collective desire to create long-term change and ensure that the representation that we see on the ground reflects this.

“It’s a positive start in incredibly difficult circumstances and while the progress is promising, it still needs to improve.”

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