Women's Sports: NWSL increases allocation money for clubs... but is it enough?

2019 NWSL Championship

NWSL clubs will now be able to pay their top players more after the US league announced each club will get $300,000 extra allocation money next season.

These extra funds can be used to pay top players more than their maximum salaries if they meet certain criteria. 

The NWSL has said they believe this change will help the league attract the world’s best talent. 

At first glance, this could be viewed as a great move forward for the NWSL’s female players, but when we look closer at the numbers it is clear there is more room for change.

Next season the maximum salary for a female player in the US league will be $50,000, 8.9% higher than in 2019. Meanwhile, the minimum salary for an NWSL player will be $20,000, a 20.9% increase.

Contextually, the minimum salary for a senior men’s team played in the MLS is $70,250, with a maximum salary of $530,000. There remains a way to go for the women’s league to catch up with their male counterparts.

Speaking on the NWSL changes to allocation money, the NWSL President Amanda Duffy said the move was symptomatic of the league’s commitment to female players.

"The league's owners are committed to investing in our world-class players.

"This is an important step in the growth of the league from which every NWSL player, current and future, will benefit and these changes will further enhance the league's global leadership in the women's game,” she said.

There are, however, controls on which players will be eligible to receive the extra allocation money. They must be players who have won more than three caps for their national team in the last two years and domestic players who have completed at least five seasons in the NWSL.

Simultaneously, the league announced that clubs will now be supplying housing for all players whilst under the contract which is a huge step in the right direction.

NWSL leading the WSL

In the UK, clubs do not have to abide by similar wage controls and it is estimated that top players in the WSL earn around £35,000 a year, not including salaries paid by the England team.

Unlike the NWSL, UK based women’s leagues are not required to introduce minimum wage caps which according to Matthew Buck, director of player management at the PFA, can mean wages can be hugely varied. 

SOCCER-NWSL-SKY BLUE-SPIRIT

"They range dramatically… over the last couple of years more and more players and teams have gone professional and it's still catching up the system.

"They range from anywhere from £5000-£10000 on the lower spectrum for players who aren't professional up to around the £35,000 mark for the top earners,” he told The Manchester Evening News in June.

Admittedly, the women’s game in the UK has not quite reached the heights of the NWSL and average attendance numbers in the US rose nearly 22% to 7,337 per game in 2019.

Yet, female players must be adequately supported financially for the women's game to continue growing and this starts with player's wages. This move from the NWSL is a positive step, but following pressure from some of the biggest stars of the game, like Megan Rapinoe, there remains a sense that more could be done.

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