The owner of one of the region’s women’s football teams says the grass roots of the sport has been starved of much-needed funding.
Keynsham Town Ladies FC owner-manager Barrie Newton said the FA’s support of the two top tiers of women’s football meant clubs such as his got “virtually nothing”.
Overlooked for entry to the original summer competition, FA Women’s Super League in 2011, Keynsham Ladies currently play in FA Women’s National League Division One South West – the fourth tier of women’s football in England.
Mr Newton said: “It’s become very money driven, like men’s football to some extent.
“When you pump a couple of million each year into the top two divisions, the rest of the sport gets virtually nothing… the growth in women’s football below the top two divisions is in decline.”
He describes the £350 per year Keynsham Ladies receive from the FA for travel expenses as “not enough to cover the costs of one game”.
Income from selling programmes at home games “barely cover half of the match referee’s fees”, he added.
Mr Newton also claims a funding gulf exists in the Women’s Super League, the pinnacle of English women’s football which is not subject to any financial fair play rules.
He said: “You’ve got a small number of teams, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea that are so much ahead of the others it’s like two divisions really.
“The only thing it’s been good for is the England Women’s team.”
Mr Newton’s comments come in stark contrast to those made last week by Baroness Campbell, Head of Women’s Football at the FA.
Speaking at a Women in Sport event at Bristol’s Ashton Gate stadium, Ms Campbell told Bristol City TV: “There is huge potential to grow the business and the sport at the same time.
“We have a huge opportunity to ride the huge wave that’s coming in women’s sport.”