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Blow to women's football coverage as one of Britain's most popular WSL podcasts closes due to lack of sponsor

Hosts of The Offside Rule criticise brands that publicly declare support for women's football but then fail to follow that up financially

The Offside Rule WSL
The Offside Rule WSL podcast has been unable to find a sponsor

One of the country’s biggest women’s football podcasts has been forced to close after they were unable to find a sponsor - despite contacting over 100 brands since last summer’s World Cup. 

The Offside Rule WSL podcast - presented by journalists Kait Borsay and Lynsey Hooper - has been funded and produced by Muddy Knees Media, the company behind the Totally Football series. The podcast, a version of which was produced in collaboration with Spotify during the World Cup, has become renowned for securing high-profile guests - including Eniola Aluko, Kelly Smith and Nick Cushing - and is the only weekly women’s football podcast that analyses every WSL match. No sponsor has come forward to help with studio and production costs.  

Now Borsay and Hooper - who often attend WSL matches unpaid - fear there is a “disconnect” with brands that publicly declare support for women’s football but then fail to follow that up financially. The pair are confident their listeners would willingly crowd fund the podcast but want to set a precedent that “the women’s game deserves to not have to be crowd funded”, Hooper said. 

She continued: “We’ve got to start really calling out all these brands and people that are supposedly, off the back of the World Cup, wanting to get behind women’s football - but when it comes to digging deep for the regular stuff, they’re not really putting their money where their mouth is.

2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“Brands are starting to put money into the game, but you need the things around the game like the coverage. One without the other doesn’t work for anybody. It’s no good having this product that no-one’s talking about, that no-one can send journalists to because of costs.” 

Hooper has attended brand events where journalists were prevented from speaking to players, as well as “events organised by brands associated with women’s football costing tens of thousands of pounds. The attendance and marketing have been poor. With that amount of money, you could support our podcast until the end of the season. It’s money that’s misplaced and misjudged - not deliberately, but because we’re all trying to understand the game. There’s a problem with investment not being there, but also not being used in the best way.”

Co-host Borsay added: “We’re certainly not going to crowd fund when we know that there’s money being pumped into men’s football podcasts like there’s no tomorrow. There has to come a point where you draw a line and say, 'If you’d do it for the men’s, you should do it for the women’s'.

“We’ve had brands tweeting us saying, ‘We back women’s football! We’re loving this!’ When we’ve tried to pick up the conversation, it just hasn’t really gone anywhere. It’s the disconnect between a brand saying. ‘Yes - we support women’s football’, and then getting people financially to commit to it. It needs to be a professional production because the women’s game deserves that.” 

A representative from Muddy Knees said: “We will continue to pursue the commercial partnership that will enable us to return next season and give women’s football the coverage it deserves.”