Women's Sport: When will there be a big-money deal in women's football

Transfer fees in the women’s game remain scarce compared to that of the men’s game.

Friday sees Deadline Day and men’s clubs will be set to splash the cash on new recruits – in order to help their aims for the remainder of the season. 

FIFA has outlined in a report that in 2019, just over £500,000 was spent on transfers in the women’s game. If you compare this to this men’s game, £5.65bn, this was a record high.

There has been a 19.7% rise between women’s teams internationally, as well as a 16.3% increase in the fees exchanged. Increased attendances have led to wages in the women’s game going up globally. However, transfer fees still stay small.

According to FIFA, 96.3% of women’s transfers around the world in 2019 were free moves.

“Transfer fees are still relatively low, and unheard of because there are still a lot of short-term contracts,” Everton manager Willie Kirk told BBC Radio Merseyside.

“A lot of players are on 12-month deals so clubs know that, if you can’t get that player, you’ll get an equivalent player at the end of their contract.”

Fran Kirby’s move from Reading to Chelsea in 2015 for between £40,000-£60,000, this was a Women’s Super League record at the time. As little as 3.7% of women’s transfer in 2019 involved a fee, this is 11.2% less than in the men’s game.

The average contract length in women’s football is only 12 months, as any longer could be seen as a risk for a club or the player.

In terms of loan deals, only three of 39 moves in 2019 became permanent deals, despite the figures loans are something more clubs in Europe, the WSL, and Championship are looking too – with the likes of Emma Mitchell joining Tottenham from Arsenal. 

In terms of a £1m transfer in the women’s game – something that happened back in 1979 in the men’s game – will we see it soon?

Blues’ boss Kirk added: “It might be a while before we get a £1m transfer fee but certainly I think there are £1m players out there.

“The top few players in the world, on a three-year contract, that contract will probably be the value of £1m. It is at that level now with some players. Once three, four and five-year contracts start becoming the norm, you’ll start seeing more transfer fees.”

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