Lewes are currently the lowest ranked team still left in the Women’s FA Cup and they will be taking on Manchester United in this weekend’s quarter-final clash. The South-East England side beat Cardiff 6-1 to reach the final eight of the tournament and will now prepare to face the second in the Women’s Super League on Sunday.
With only a few days to go before the big game, Lewes Women have also been using their growing presence in the FA Cup as a way to highlight some of the inequalities within Women’s Sport, and noticeably the FA Cup. Yesterday, Tuesday 14 March, it was reported that the players had written an open letter calling for FA Cup prize money to be equal.
The letter, which was seen and reported by the Guardian, is addressed to former Lioness Karen Carney. Carney is leading the government’s future of women’s football review and the letter encourages the public to pledge support to their requests. The letter says that equal prize money would transform the women’s game in terms of wages, facilities, equipment, medical, staffing and travel costs.
Here is all you need to know about the disparity in the FA Cup...
What is the pay difference in the FA Cup?
Lewes midfielder Lauren Heria said: “We’ve earned £45,000 for the club but if we were men we would have earned £450,000.” Additionally, in March last year the Football Association announced the prize money for the WFA would increase about seven-fold, from £428,915 to just under £3m.
While this difference comes as a huge excitement for female footballers, it has been marred by the fact that the men’s prize pot also received an uplift of £3.9m, from £15.95 to £19.8m, widening the gap even further. Women’s clubs also do not receive any money for an FA Cup match being broadcast on the BBC, which Lewes’ upcoming quarter-final clash will be, but the men each receive £20,00 for their televised quarter-finals.
What has been said?
Heria added to her call for equal pay by saying: “I’m fully aware we’re gonna get back: ‘Well it increased to three million this year. The thing that I love about Lewes is they will never tell us to settle, whether that’s on the pitch or off the pitch. It is always: ‘No, you can expect more of yourselves and you can expect more of the club and more of society.”
For a club such as Lewes, which sits seventh in the WSL Championship, the prize money is the difference between covering costs and transforming futures. Lewes is the first club in the world to pay their men’s and women’s teams equally, and have long campaigned for equal FA Prize money.
Club captain Rhian Cleverly also added her own comments saying: “This is the first time (the call for equal prize money) it is from the players. This is Loz’s (Heria) idea. She came up with the idea of writing a letter, and we’ve just tried to support her as best we can because we all live this day-in day-out. We understand what our friends are going through in different teams and clubs.”
Heria had been inspired by Arsenal’s Lotte Wubben-Moy who sent her own letter pushing for equal access to school sports.
When is Lewes vs Manchester United?
Lewes will take on Marc Skinner’s Manchester United on Sunday 19 March 2023 and kick-off is scheduled for 12.30pm GMT. BBC will be broadcasting the match on their streaming service BBC iPlayer.