Title-winning Saints women get first shirt sponsor
Southampton’s title-winning women’s team will start next season on a level pegging with their Premier League male counterparts in at least one respect after Virgin Media announced on Friday it would become the side’s first-ever shirt sponsor.
The team have just completed their second full season in England’s national women’s football pyramid — winning the Southern Region Women’s Football League Premier Division without dropping a single point.
That will lift them only to the fourth tier of women’s football in England but there is clear ambition at the club that before long they will match the men by playing in the top flight.
“The squad is going from strength to strength and we can’t wait to support this team of inspiring female footballers,” Virgin Media’s director of sales said, at the same time announcing a new three-year sleeve deal with the men’s side.
No financial details of either sponsorship were revealed.
“It’s fantastic that such a prestigious brand as Virgin Media has decided to make this commitment to the women’s team,” Southampton’s head of women’s football Marieanne Spacey-Cale said.
“To have their support on this exciting journey of ours is wonderful.”
Women’s football in England continues to go from strength to strength on the commercial side.
Earlier this year, the top flight Women’s Super League agreed a multi-million sponsorship deal with Barclays from the start of the 2019–20 season.
The three-year sponsorship deal was reported to be worth more than 10 million pounds ($13.01 million), with a prize money pot of 500,000 pounds for the league champions for the first time.
Earlier this week England manager Phil Neville predicted women’s soccer was on the verge of a boom ahead of June and July World Cup in France.
“I think this World Cup is a tipping point for the women’s game where I think it’s just going to go ‘boom’,” Neville told reporters.
“I think we’re in a period now where it can only get bigger and better. I think this is going to be the greatest, biggest Women’s World Cup of all time.”
($1 = 0.7685 pounds)
REUTERS/Editing by Nick Mulvenney