26 September 2022

Men’s football must invest heavily in the women’s game, says Gary Neville

26 September 2022

Gary Neville believes men’s football must “invest heavily” in the women’s game to make amends for the Football Association’s de facto 50-year ban.

The former England international said it is “absolutely ridiculous” the fight is continuing for “equal pay, for equal investment” into women’s sport.

His comments came after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer stressed the importance of creating a legacy after the stunning success of the England women’s team at Euro 2022.

Sir Keir, who was involved in a question and answer session with Neville on the main stage at Labour Party conference in Liverpool, said his 11-year-old daughter was “bewitched” by the Lionesses.

He said: “We need equal access, we’ve got to fight this fight for equal access for women.”

Sir Keir added: “The legacy should not just be (a trophy) in a cabinet somewhere, it’s got to be young women having an equal chance to play football.”

Former Manchester United player Neville added: “Many of you will be aware, many of you may not be aware that in the 1920s the men’s game, the FA, stopped women from playing football for 50 years.

“And that’s the reason why the men’s game now – having set the women’s game back so far – needs to invest heavily in the women’s game.

“My mum was stopped from playing in the 1970s for a school team and my brother was the manager of the England women’s team for four years, my sister has fought for equal funding through Sport England for netball for many, many years, how can we be in 2022 still fighting for funding for equal pay, for equal investment into women’s sport?

“It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

The pair earlier were involved in a series of matey exchanges on football and politics.

After Sir Keir spoke of playing football each week, Neville was asked if he had any advice for an aspiring midfielder.

Neville told conference: “Make sure you play left of centre, you’ve got to deliver some nice passes to that left wing as they’re a little bit noisy.”

In August, the Premier League said it remained in “active conversations” with the FA over how it can help women’s football.

But chief executive Richard Masters insisted it was the wrong time to talk about a potential takeover of the Women’s Super League (WSL).

This season the Premier League started a three-year commitment to invest £21 million into both the women’s professional game and girls grassroots football but plans to take control of the WSL remain on ice for now.

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