Call For Salary Caps To Prevent Imbalance Across WSL

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: Sophie Ingle of Chelsea controls the ball whilst under pressure from Filippa Angeldal of Manchester City during the Barclays Women's Super League match between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Joie Stadium on October 08, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Call For Salary Caps To Prevent Imbalance Across WSL


By Hannah Blackwell

The top tiers of women’s football should have stronger financial controls to halt the growing disparity between big clubs and smaller ones, according to Crystal Palace co-owner and chairman Steve Parish.

The Women’s Super League and second-tier Championship – that includes most of the current Wales squad – have a salary cap system where clubs can spend up to 40% of their turnover on salaries.

However, as that includes the parent club, the bigger men’s teams often have an advantage for their women’s sides.

Since its inception in 2011, the WSL has been won by just four different teams, with Wales captain Sophie Ingle’s Chelsea claiming the title in five out of the last six seasons.

Parish warned that the game was in danger of being dominated by just a handful of clubs.

“I’m very passionate that we need to put in cost controls and salary caps…,” he told the Leaders sports business conference in London.

“If you look at the WSL, the top four (or) five clubs last year had a positive goal difference of (around) 166 and the rest were obviously minus 166.

“So there’s a disparity in quality because of access to talent and there’s disparity in quality because there’s no (strict) salary cap, you can spend as much as you want.”

Palace’s women’s team finished fifth in the Championship last season, 14 points behind Bristol City who were promoted to the WSL. Only one team earn promotion and one side from the 12-member top tier get relegated.

Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City are the game’s powerhouses, having finished in the top four for the last six seasons.

In the last campaign, there was a 47-point difference between champions Chelsea and bottom side Reading, where Wales defender Gemma Evans played before her move to Manchester United.

“The men’s game functions well because two times out of 10 we might beat Arsenal and the thing is you don’t know when those two times are,” the 58-year-old Parish added.

“So you’ll come and you’ll watch and I think at the moment there’s just such a mismatch between the top and even the bottom of the WSL, let alone the Championship.”

Welsh Women Help Pave The Way Towards Billion Pounds Super League

Palace have started the season well, going unbeaten to sit third with 14 points from six games.

Parish also praised the new Saudi Pro League, whose clubs have splashed out almost one billion dollars in a bid to boost the domestic competition by attracting the world’s leading players and coaches.

The league is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). It has been accused of being a “sportswashing” operation to improve the country’s reputation in the face of heavy criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

“I think football coming to a population anywhere is a wonderful thing. There’s a probably a question mark over state aid for a league but obviously it needs investment to get up and going…,” Parish said.

“I hope it’s successful for them. They’re welcome into the family of football. Obviously if they’re knocking on your door buying players, (it’s) probably a very happy day for people if there’s players they want to get rid of.”


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