LONDON (Reuters) - Banking group Barclays will become the first title sponsor of English soccer’s Women’s Super League in a multi-million pound partnership running until 2022, the Football Association announced on Wednesday.
The FA said it was the biggest ever investment in British women’s sport by a brand, with the BBC reporting it was understood to be worth more than 10 million pounds.
The deal will begin from the 2019-20 season and means that the top tier of women’s soccer in England, which began in its current guise in 2011, will be renamed the Barclays FA Women’s Super League.
The Super League will have an annual 500,000 pound prize fund, distributed according to the final positions.
Barclays was title sponsor of the men’s Premier League between 2004 and 2016 and remains that championship’s official banking partner.
Kelly Simmons, the FA’s head of women’s professional soccer, said the record deal “will support our ambition to make the Barclays FA Women’s Super League the world’s most successful league, on and off the pitch.”
The Super League is Europe’s only fully professional domestic female football league, now with 11 teams after starting out with eight. Chelsea are the current champions.
The partnership will also see the FA and Barclays work together to grow the women’s game at a grassroots level, with the bank becoming lead partner of a programme to develop female players’ access to soccer at school.
“The FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships will help thousands more girls in England to take up sport and we look forward to partnering with The FA to deliver that,” said Barclays Chief Executive Jes Staley.
“Barclays’ multi-year investment is also our salute to the professionalism of The FA Women’s Super League players, and we hope it will help take the game to new heights, making England’s domestic league a world leader.”
Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Jon Boyle/Keith Weir