Women's Football Benchmarking Report

Financial Landscape

Commercial revenue continues to serve as the primary driver of revenue growth for women’s football clubs and leagues. However, costs remain greater than revenues, highlighting the ongoing need for investment, which will be required until the game becomes self-sustaining and ultimately profitable.

Of clubs indicated that they made a financial profit. Similarly, only one league indicated that it was making a financial profit, with the majority recording a financial loss.

Of clubs generated a financial loss and the rest breaking even. Although the game has undergone significant growth in recent years, it still requires continued investment.

Of leagues that generated lower revenues (<USD 1m), but also incurred higher costs (>USD 1m) typically received financial support (85%) compared to those that generated both higher revenues and costs (67%).

Member association funding was the greatest contributor of subsidies to leagues in 2021-2022 (42%).

Operating Revenues - Clubs

The average operating revenue generated per club was USD 785k in 2021-2022 (for the 259 clubs that provided information); up significantly compared to the previous edition of the report, USD 337k, (when 157 clubs provided information).

Commercial revenue

Commercial revenue is once again the main contributor to a club’s total operating revenue. The prestige of sponsors within the game is increasing, with top-tier brands entering the sport and paying significant sums.

Matchday revenue

Matchday revenue was the next greatest contributor to operating revenue. This operating revenue stream has seen significant growth year-on-year as fans returned to stadiums after seasons impacted by COVID-19, with clubs able to extract meaningful revenue despite the relatively low price of tickets (average of USD 6 in 2021-2022).

Broadcast revenue

For the first time in compiling this report, the average broadcast revenue generated by clubs exceeds USD 100k, which is a positive direction of travel. This evidences that broadcasters are willing to pay more for the product as the eyeballs on the game increase.

Prize money

Prize money is an indicator of the financial health of the game, with league organisers able to ring-fence money to distribute to clubs, rather than retaining it to further grow its own operations. It is therefore recognised as an important source of income for the financial stability of a club and the competitiveness of a league, as well as incentivising investment in infrastructure and attracting talent.

Operating Revenues - Leagues

The average league operating revenue for these 14 leagues grew from USD 2.2m. A significant proportion of this growth was driven by the USA’s growth in “Other“ revenue, as a result of expansion fees, league expansion from ten to 12 teams, and remittance fees.


When considering the 28 leagues to provide information in 2021-2022, the average operating revenue was USD 4m. Leagues that generated above USD 1m in operating revenue were driven by a higher proportion of Other revenue (41%) compared to lower operating-revenue-generating leagues (4%).


The proportion of operating revenue generated from commercial sources approximately aligns with the number of sponsors dedicated to women’s football. Leagues that generated over USD 1m in operating revenue typically had five sponsors, whereas the leagues that generated below USD 1m operating revenue had an average of three, demonstrating the value in having a broad sponsorship portfolio.


For those in receipt of broadcast income, 67% of leagues that generated over USD 1m negotiated rights deals for the women’s league only. When compared to those with total revenue below USD 1m, only 27% of leagues negotiated deals for the women’s league only, whilst 40% negotiated deals with another competition (e.g. an affiliated men’s league). The remainder did not generate any revenue from the sale of broadcast rights.


When assessing the revenue-generating characteristics of leagues of a varying financial scale, it was interesting to note that around 1% of revenue was generated from matchday sources for the leagues which generated above USD 1m of operating revenue.

Operating Costs


The average operating costs attributed to a women’s football club have grown by 60% (from USD 0.8m to USD 1.3m for the clubs that responded in each respective edition of the report).


Of the 18 leagues analysed, there was a 19% year-on-year increase in average operating costs to USD 3,886k in 2021-2022.


There was an increase in the proportion of clubs and leagues that received some form of subsidy.

For leagues, there was a significant shift in the profile of subsidies received, with government subsidies increasing 17% in 2021-2022.

With regard to clubs, there was a decrease in the funding directly from owners, but an increase in subsidies from the men’s department. Clubs continued to receive subsidies from a wide range of sources.

Source of subsidies – leagues (%)
Source of subsidies – clubs (%)

Case Study

In the dynamic landscape of women’s football, the Azerion Women’s Eredivisie in the Netherlands serves as an intriguing case study (June 2023) in successful commercialisation strategies.

League Commercialization

The league’s approach stood out due to its careful examination of the momentum generated by the remarkable achievements of the Dutch national team in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019™. This case study sheds light on the league’s journey and highlights the significance of this distinctive approach in driving growth and engagement.

National-team success

Due to the Dutch national team’s remarkable journey to the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ final in 2019, an impressive television viewership of 5 million for the final match and the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) witnessed a 40% increase in social media followers.

National exposure

To ensure widespread media coverage of the league, the KNVB established agreements with prominent broadcasters NOS and ESPN. Every matchday, ESPN televised one live match, whilst NOS broadcasted several live games throughout the season, together with match highlights through its platforms.

Title Sponsor

The league also offered title sponsorship as the premier commercial opportunity. Title sponsors gained access to:

- An empty canvas to creatively align their brand with the league’s vision and values

- Association with the most popular sport for girls and women in the country

- Guaranteed media exposure through partnerships with ESPN and NOS

- Unique access to activation opportunities at club level

- A special crossover with the Dutch national team, granting the sponsor: (1) rights to collaborate with players for promotional activities; (2) signed shirts for giveaways or other promotional initiatives; (3) tickets to home games of the Dutch national team

Launching partner

Prior to signing a title sponsor for the league, the KNVB also acknowledged the importance of having a strong launching partner. ING stepped forward in 2020 as the esteemed launching partner of the league; signifying a shared determination to propel the league to the next level.