‘Right the wrongs’: FA faces demand to end huge Cup gender pay gap

Suzanne Wrack
Photograph: Alex Burstow/Getty Images

Lewes FC have challenged the Football Association to redress the huge gap in FA Cup prize money for men’s and women’s teams.

The £2,000 earned by each of the 16 victorious women’s teams in this weekend’s fourth round is dwarfed by the £180,000 each successful men’s team will walk away with at the same stage, a prize money gap of more than £2.8m.

The total women’s prize fund for the competition is £309,355, around 1% of the men’s £30.25m.

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Lewes, whose women’s team play in the Championship, are at home to Billericay Town in the Cup on Sunday and their players will warm up in T-shirts that highlight the disparity. The club’s men’s team will wear them in their fixture against East Thurrock United on Saturday.

The T-shirt has FA Cup fourth round written on it, with £180,000 next to a toilet door-style symbol of a man and £2,000 next to a symbol of a woman.

Lewes, who in 2017 became the first club to pay their women’s and men’s teams equally when they launched their Equality FC campaign, wrote an open letter to the FA board last February remonstrating against the FA Cup prize fund gap and appealing for change. Their call gained huge traction and was raised during prime minister’s questions.

The FA pointed to the competition as its biggest revenue generator and said it allowed them to “invest back into football at all levels” and that it “had made significant progress to develop the women’s game as a result”.

On Friday Lewes, while praising the FA’s “For All” campaign and the women’s football team working at the governing body, blamed the legacy of the FA’s 50-year ban on women’s football as “stymying growth and distorting a nation’s understanding of whose talent and potential is worth investing in”.

Maggie Murphy, general manager of Lewes, said: “A dramatic increase in funding via the equalisation of FA Cup prize money would be a signal that the governing body is ready to right the wrongs of the 50-year ban and is playing its part to rapidly speed up equality in the game. Higher prize funds for the women’s game would also likely see a dramatic change in how clubs invest in their women’s football set-ups.”

Last season Manchester City’s men’s team received £3.6m for winning the final alone, whereas their women’s team collected £25,000 for doing likewise in a Wembley final watched by 43,264 fans.