It’s not all about Lyon: Women’s leagues need to stay competitive and seize international TV opportunity

Last week, the French Football Federation struck international TV deals for Division 1 Féminine, France’s top women’s league, with broadcasters in the UK, USA, Italy, and Germany.

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However, early signs show that the TV schedule is going to be dominated by France’s two biggest teams, Lyon and PSG, leaving the 10 remaining top-flight teams out of the picture. It’s an issue that is common across all of football, but as the two football juggernauts already have a big financial advantage over their rivals, some additional exposure would go a long way. Being seen by some extra eyeballs outside of France increases the marketing opportunities for the two leading clubs even further.

Unlike the men’s game, teams lower down the food chain can’t even command huge transfer fees for their better players as the top sides wait until their usually short-term contracts run down and players can join for free.

After 14-straight league titles, Lyon are on course to add to that record as they sit top having picked up their sixth straight victory with a 4-0 success at home to Guingamp. Amel Majri with a brace. PSG, their constant shadow in second place, once more on 16 points after a 3-0 win at Soyaux.

The extra focus given to the elite teams rather than the entire league is also a problem that exists in both Germany and Spain.

Frauen-Bundesliga table-toppers Bayern Munich claimed their seventh consecutive win with a 3-0 success at home against Turbine Potsdam. Wolfsburg, still unbeaten and two points behind the leaders after a 5-2 victory on home soil versus MSV Duisburg.

After only three games in Spain, champions Barcelona are already at the summit with maximum points after a 6-0 away success against Sporting Huelva. The Catalan side have 16 league goals to their name already this season and are yet to concede.

Compare that to the leading Women’s Super League (WSL) clubs in England. Not only do they get pushed by each other but also have to be aware of any side breaking out of the pack behind them. The increased chance of more unpredictability certainly makes the league more appealing to potential viewers and investors.

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Chelsea even made a statement when they decided to break the mould to get the women they wanted. With one year still left on her contract, the £250,000 fee the WSL side paid Wolfsburg for Pernille Harder was reported to be the largest ever exchanged in women’s football.

As much as the leading European sides may like their situation as it stands, could a lack of challengers to their domestic domination ultimately be their undoing? Countries that have more clubs with a visible presence also have a greater chance of bringing more money into everyone’s coffers through increased league revenue. That can only be good news for all concerned, especially those sides competing for the real big prizes like Champions League success.

You can follow Martin on Twitter @673Martin

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