NEWS: Raf’s Evidence Published as part of UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Women’s Sport

In December, in response to the success of the Lionesses in the Women’s Euros, the UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee set up an inquiry into women’s sport and invited the submission of written evidence.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are:

  1. How can the growth in domestic women’s football be accelerated?
  2. What should other sports be learning from the growth of women’s football leagues in the UK?
  3. What is needed for women’s sporting organisations to grow audiences and revenues?
  4. What action is needed to tackle sexism and misogyny in sport?
  5. What needs to change at a regulatory level to facilitate more parity between men’s and women’s sport?

In my evidence, I focused on Question 5. Those of you who follow The CRICKETher Weekly will be aware that I have quite strong views about how cricket (and other women’s sports) should be governed!

My current research project at Bournemouth University looks at the way in which women’s sporting organisations were forced into “mergers” with men’s sporting organisations in the 1990s – including the Women’s Cricket Association, which (having run women’s cricket since 1926) was absorbed by the newly-formed ECB in 1998.

My research shows that these mergers were not desired by those within women’s sport – they were, largely, government-mandated. The merger “negotiations” were dominated by male voices and priorities, and subsequently (in my view) the mergers stymied the growth and development of women’s sport.

In my evidence, I argue that merged governance (where women’s and men’s sport are run by the same governing bodies) is not always the best way to promote parity between men’s and women’s sport. I also recommend that the Government give serious consideration to the adoption of a model of devolved / separate governance of women’s sport.

That might sound extreme – but it’s important to think hard about why women’s sport hasn’t yet achieved parity with men’s sport. Maybe it’s time to get radical?

A number of National Governing Bodies also submitted evidence to the inquiry, including England Netball, the FA and the RFU. (The ECB didn’t, though – aside from a short joint submission with the FA, LTA, RFU and RFL calling for the Government to improve sport for girls in schools.)

You can read my evidence, as well as all other submissions, here – it’s worth a look!

So, what happens next? Usually, the Committee moves now to oral evidence sessions, so it’s possible I may get a summons to appear before the Committee and present my suggestions there.

After that, an overall report will be compiled with recommendations for the Government, based on all the evidence presented. I’ll keep you updated once that final report is published. The Government don’t have to act on it, of course, but it could make for very interesting reading!