Huge potential for investment in women’s sport as UEFA Women’s European Championship gets underway

Huge potential for investment in women’s sport as UEFA Women’s European Championship gets underway

There is still huge potential for growth in women’s sport if investment is targeted in the right way, but investors may need to be patient to achieve returns, according to a new joint report from The Sports Consultancy and accountancy and business advisory firm BDO.

The report, which launches to coincide with the UEFA Women’s European Championship, finds that in many ways investment in women’s sport could be a better long term bet for investors than men’s sport. Women’s sport is still in an early stage in its development cycle, it can innovate without having to compete with inflexible established successful formats and it is likely to be free of complex commercial structures which can limit growth.

Men’s sport, by comparison, is congested with too many investors competing with each other to find a return, few spaces in the calendar for new competitions or formats, and strong incumbent rights holders able to resist disruption from new entrants. 

Recent research shows growing demand for women’s sport, particularly among younger audiences. A survey from YouGov found that 44% of global sports fans aged 18-24 preferred watching women’s sport over men’s compared to only 16% among the 55+ age group. This is clear evidence of a direction of travel.

Sponsors are waking up to this growing appetite. A report by Nielsen found that unbundled women’s sponsorship investment across three of sports biggest rightsholders – FIFA, UEFA and World Rugby – rose by 146% in 2021.

The Women’s Sports Trust recently estimated that the annual revenues associated with women’s sport will grow to £1bn by 2030, up from £350m in 2021.

Kirsten Sibbit-Johnston, Associate Director from The Sports Consultancy said:

“This month’s UEFA Women’s European Championship is likely to provide a real boost to interest in women’s football – and women’s sport more widely. It’s clear that there is a huge untapped market particularly among younger generations, and indeed, we could now be on the cusp of a huge investment wave.

“However, investment needs to be targeted to grow the sport – by supporting female athletes, increasing professionalism and driving up exposure. It’s also about building new ways in which fans can engage with the personalities, characters and rivalries that really drive passion in competitive sport.

“The biggest returns will come to those who invest across the women’s sport ecosystem buying themselves a greater share of influence and the ability to set a direction of travel for the sector.”

Ian Clayden, Head of Professional Sports at BDO said: “Perversely, COVID-19 helped raised the profile for women’s sport as space in the sporting calendar allowed for much greater exposure, particularly through streaming platforms.

“We’re seeing huge interest among young fans, but the values of some women’s sport assets are still very competitively priced when compared to equivalent opportunities in men’s sport, and sponsors and investors are taking note.

“However, men’s sport didn’t grow to where it is today overnight, it took decades of steady professionalisation and investment. We expect a faster trajectory for women’s sport, but investors will still need to focus on the medium to long term if they want to capitalise on the opportunities available.”

The full report is available to download here


Note to editors

Accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP provides integrated advice and solutions to help businesses navigate a changing world.

Our clients are Britain’s economic engine – ambitious, entrepreneurially-spirited and high-growth businesses that fuel the economy. 

We share our clients’ ambitions and their entrepreneurial mind-set. We have the right combination of global reach, integrity and expertise to help them succeed. 


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Frank Shepherd

Kirsten Sibbit, The Sports Consultancy

BDO press office: 
020 7893 3000