Barclays’ Women’s Super League sponsorship

22 March 2019

Barclays has announced its sponsorship of the Football Association Women’s Super League, the largest ever commercial investment in women’s sport in the UK.

“When I first started playing football, I was kicked off two teams – just for being a girl. It was devastating.”

England’s all-time leading goalscorer, Kelly Smith MBE, was relaying her early experiences of the beautiful game to a group of girls at a secondary school in south London – where Barclays this week announced its groundbreaking sponsorship deal with the newly professional FA Women’s Super League.

“It’s something I wouldn’t want to see happen to other girls,” said Smith. “It’s great seeing Barclays come on board and invest in the women’s game, and give more opportunities to young schoolgirls.”

The multimillion-pound three-year deal is the largest commercial investment ever in women’s sport in the UK. Announced in partnership with the Football Association (FA) on Wednesday, it sees Barclays become the first ever title sponsor of the FA Women’s Super League, starting with the 2019/2020 season. 

As part of the sponsorship, the top tier of women’s football will be renamed the ‘Barclays FA Women’s Super League’ and – for the first time –a prize-money pot of £500,000 is being introduced.

Kelly Smith at the FA Women’s Super League event

England’s all-time leading goalscorer Kelly Smith talking football with students

Barclays will also work with up to 6,000 schools nationwide as lead partner of the FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships – an initiative dedicated to providing young women with opportunities in football.

“A milestone moment” for women’s football

Kelly Simmons MBE, Director of Women’s Professional Game at the FA, said the announcement was a “milestone moment” for women’s football. “What’s great is it isn’t just the Women’s Super League that benefits, it is also about investment in schools. It is giving the next generation of children the opportunity to play.”

Jes Staley, CEO of Barclays, reiterated the importance of the bank’s support, both for the women’s game and the wider community. “Football has the power to transform people’s lives, boosting their confidence and providing more opportunities to grow. The grassroots work through 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.

“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.”

Training session at the FA Women’s Super League event

Students at a school in south London enjoy a training session before the announcement

Answering questions about how the deal came about, Simmons said: “There was interest from other brands, but once we started talking to Barclays we knew it was the perfect fit. They’ve got a great track record in football sponsorship and we know they are committed to investing in the game as a whole. It sends a really strong statement that investment in women’s football makes sense.”

At this week’s launch event, Smith – who retired from the game in 2017 – returned to the pitch and joined in with a training session with schoolgirls at Bacon’s College in Rotherhithe, London, UK.

Chloe Ascott, a year 10 pupil at the school, said: “I’m excited to see just how many more people this will attract into the women’s game. Football is stereotyped as a boys’ sport, but anyone can play – as long as they are enjoying it.”

Year nine student Ojay Jalloh agreed: “We have a lot of support right now which is going to encourage more and more girls to participate in football. I’m glad that Barclays is involved, it’s good they are supporting the empowerment of women.”

It’s an exciting time for women’s football, with the World Cup taking place in France later this year. So, what do the students think – can England go all the way?

“Oh yes,” said Ojay, smiling. “It’s coming home.”