Former England star Karen Carney to lead review to grow women's football following Lionesses' Euros win

·3-min read

Former England star Karen Carney has been appointed by the government to lead a review to grow women's football – capitalising on the Lionesses' European Championship success.

There will be a focus on how to expand the fan base and participation from the grassroots to elite level, while providing better facilities, prize money and financial sustainability, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has turned to 144-cap Carney whose 14-year England career coincided with the women's game moving into the professional era with FA salaries and players no longer being part-time with their clubs.

Carney said: "Over the last few years, the game has grown significantly and at a rapid pace.

"Of course, this is an exciting time, but there is an urgent need to ensure there are processes and structures in place that protect the interest of the game and the people working in it.

"I have always said that the sport needs to be built on solid foundations to give it long-lasting success in a sustainable way."

Ahead of the Women's Super League season starting next weekend, the Lionesses are in Austria, preparing to play for the first time since beating Germany at Wembley at the end of July to become European champions for the first time.

A draw away against Austria on Saturday will be enough to seal qualification for the 2023 World Cup - the next trophy target for the Lionesses after back-to-back semi-final appearances in FIFA showpieces.

Carney said: "For me, this is a defining period for the sport and this review will be at the heart of that.

"We must capitalise on these powerful moments and can look back on 2022 as a year where we made great strides forward in the growth of the game."

But the choice of venue by the Austrians for the visit of Sarina Wiegman's England highlights the ongoing struggle for status by female footballers, with the Wiener Neustadt Stadium holding fewer than 3,000 fans.

Carney is well-placed to analyse the business of the game and how to grow commercial and sponsorship revenue.

Since retiring after England's run to the Women's World Cup semi-finals in 2019, Carney has studied for an MBA in business administration on top of qualifications in sports science and psychology.

The title-winning Arsenal and Chelsea great will form her report based on meetings with industry experts and evidence gathered by the DCMS and FA with the aim to deliver the document early next year.

The government review will assess prize money disparities as well as the "adequacy, quality, accessibility and prevalence" of facilities, the DCMS said.

Read more:
The state of the game - from pitches and access to pathways

The Euro 2022-winning squad wrote to Tory leadership hopefuls Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, asking them to ensure schoolgirls have access to a minimum of two hours a week of sport classes - highlighting how only 63% of girls can play football in schools.

Ms Dorries said: "The Lionesses' spectacular performance shows how far we have come at the top of the women's game. While it is right that we celebrate and reflect on that success, we need an equal emphasis on improving participation, employment opportunities, commercial investment and visibility in the media.

"We want to make sure everyone can enjoy the benefits of team sport and there is a robust infrastructure to sustain women's and girls' football for the future. A thorough review of the game will help ensure it is here for the long term."