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Weekly sales of women's soccer gear tripled during Women's Euro

August 08, 2022

The GIST: This summer's hottest soccer tournament, the Women’s Euro, continues to deliver. The latest example? Merchandise sales. Fanatics revealed Friday that the weekly sales of women’s soccer gear tripled during the July tournament.

The details: Fanatics also scored by being an official apparel partner of England’s Euro-winning team. The Lionesses’ merch purchases skyrocketed 640% in the four hours following England’s 2–1 win over Germany, netting more sales than during the entire week leading up to the final. Shop ’til you drop.

  • England fans’ buying intent didn’t end there. Searches for “football sports bra” surged over 1,590% after Chloe Kelly ripped off her jersey to celebrate the game-winning goal, and sales of coach Sarina Wiegman’s Marks & Spencer suit rose 140% en route to the final.

The context: Global sales of Fanatics’ women’s sports merch increased by 28% last year, reflecting the industry’s growth. The overall women’s sports apparel market was valued at $26.8 billion in 2018, and businesses like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Nike took notice. Companies have been increasing women’s team inventory to meet the rising demand.

  • But brands are still playing catch-up. Even Nike initially made just 1K jerseys following the USWNT’s 2019 World Cup win, leaving fans scrambling and providing a catalyst for the team’s players union to launch its own shop last month.

Zooming out: There’s plenty of opportunity in the apparel space — the women’s sportswear industry is rising just as steadily as women’s sports, and leaders have already marked womenswear as their next major growth venture.

  • Nike’s already anteing up. The sports giant grew its womenswear business by 20% to $8.5 billion in fiscal year 2021, and is prioritizing the vertical in its future growth plans. Can’t argue with those numbers.

English women's soccer ecosystem sees "halo effect" following Women's Euro win

August 05, 2022

The GIST: The Women’s Euro halo effect continues. England’s women’s soccer ecosystem is reaping the rewards of the national team’s tournament win, and power brokers may be planning to shake up the status quo to pounce on the opportunity. Lioness-hearted, indeed.

The balance sheet: As it predicted, UEFA will suffer a loss for this year’s Euro despite the organization earning a projected $60.9 million in sponsorship revenue after opting to sell inventory for women’s and men’s events separately. The European governing body expects revenue figures to increase for future tourneys.

The ripple effect: But the revenue — and champagne — is still flowing. The Lionesses will play to a sold-out Wembley Stadium again on October 7th when it hosts the USWNT. Tickets to the friendly went on sale Tuesday and all 87K were claimed within 24 hours, making it the fastest sellout of a women’s match outside of a major event. Literally here today, gone tomorrow.

  • The rising tide is also lifting the Women’s Super League (WSL), whose season kicks off next month. Nine clubs are reporting an uptick in match and season ticket sales. Manchester City — which boasts Euro final hero Chloe Kelly on its roster — said its season ticket count has doubled to sit at an all-time high.

The restructure: The post-Euro hype could accelerate the WSL’s eventual break from the Football Association (FA), English soccer’s governing body that runs the league. Per a Tuesday report, a majority of WSL clubs want an independent chief executive appointed, as they fear the FA will be too slow to capitalize on the current momentum.

  • They may have a point. The FA only charged adults a shocking $12 for the aforementioned England–USWNT match, netting a mere $600K in revenue, and the body decided to forego a bid to host the 2027 or 2031 Women’s World Cup in lieu of focusing on the 2028 men’s Euro. *rolls eyes*
  • The matter is an urgent one for the WSL. The league’s three-year broadcast deal with Sky and the BBC expires in 2024, and clubs are hoping a business-oriented exec can significantly top the current $18.2 million annual package.

Zooming out: Many women’s sports entities were created with backing from either a men’s sports counterpart or a governing body. And several, like the WNBA, excelled in that model. But if the WSL’s ambitious split succeeds, it could recalibrate perceptions on thriving business models for women’s sports.

  • Hybrid models are emerging, too. The NWSL launched in 2012 under the U.S. Soccer Federation’s (USSF) leadership, and the two still have a formal partnership. The USSF, though, stopped managing the league early last year. Watch this space.

NWSL club NJ/NY Gotham FC sees increased exposure with Sue Bird, other famous investors

August 01, 2022

The GIST: NJ/NY Gotham FC has scored a star-studded investment roster. As mentioned last week, WNBA icon Sue Bird and two-time Super Bowl champ Eli Manning joined a growing list of famous investors in the NWSL club on Friday, with Gotham now valued at a reported league-record $40 million.

  • The investment continues the trend of rising valuations and celebrity dollars in the NWSL, a move that Gotham’s chief business officer Andrea Pagnanelli told The GIST boosts the club’s exposure. Star power.

The investors: Per Sportico, Bird and Manning joined the ownership group after NBA star Kevin Durant and his business partner Rich Kleiman invested in May, with former USWNT and ex-Gotham player Carli Lloyd doing the same just a week earlier. Pagnanelli said more minority co-owners with local ties are on the way.

The celebrity impact: Simply put, investments from high-profile people increases Gotham’s profile. “We’re just managing up to a lot more owners who want visibility and to owners who can help,” she said. “[It] allows us to make decisions quicker, open doors.”

  • Bird and Lloyd’s investments, Pagnanelli said, is driving “new reach.” The exec noted that the club’s Instagram following rose by 2K after Lloyd’s investment announcement, while Bird resonates with the fanbase.

The proof-point: A-list investors are en vogue in the NWSL, perhaps pioneered by LA-based Angel City FC. The club co-founded by Natalie Portman counts over 100 micro-investors in its ownership group, many of whom are high-profile Hollywood or sports figures.

  • With names like Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain and Mia Hamm on board, the club booked $35 million in commercial revenue before its first game in April.

Gotham’s context: Gotham has revved up from zero to 100 over the last four seasons. The club upgraded from 5K-seater Yurcak Field to the 25K-capacity Red Bull Arena just before the March 2020 pandemic shutdown, and rebranded from Sky Blue FC to Gotham in April 2021.

  • This year marks the club’s first full season with fans at the upgraded venue. We love a makeover.

Zooming out: Pagnanelli noted the celeb investment is mutually beneficial. While Gotham actively courted minority owners, some of the newcomers approached the club of their own accord. From LA to NY, the women’s sports boom is attracting — and paying off for — new investors. As Pagnanelli said, “The time is now.”

Women's Euro sees record spending, wagering for final game in England

August 01, 2022

The GIST: England’s 2–1 on-field triumph over Germany in yesterday’s Women’s Euro final wasn’t the only win for the country — off-field engagement also saw unparalleled success.

  • The 87K sellout crowd at Wembley Stadium set the attendance record for a European Championship (women’s or men’s) and the English rallied and wagered like never before. Football — and revenue — are coming home.

The spend: The Lionesses' final appearance had fans drop an estimated $167 million during the match. A projected $56 million was spent at pubs with the remaining $112 million going toward at-home snacks and merchandise. Pints and crisps for everyone.

  • The $167 million spent on the final alone dwarfs the $65.6 million in revenue the entire tournament was expected to generate across its nine host cities. And the original $65.6 million projection was already four times the actual revenue produced by the 2017 edition in the Netherlands. Gonna need a bigger boat wallet.

The bettors: Audiences also literally bet on women at record-breaking pace ahead of yesterday’s final. As of Thursday, 1.5 million bets were placed on the tourney, with 86% made by men. And top British platforms Ladbrokes and Coral saw a fivefold increase on Women’s Euro bets compared to the 2017 event.

  • Folks from the U.K. comprised 46% of online wagerers this month, while 22% of bets came from Germany and 16% originated in Brazil. A global game, indeed.

The NFTs: Amidst the aforementioned growth, the Football Association (FA) is hoping to drive future engagement with digital collectibles. On Friday, the FA issued requests for proposals for NFT licensing rights (for both the men’s and women’s national teams) as it searches for a partner to create a platform for the tokens.

Zooming out: The overwhelming success of this year’s Women’s Euro is simply the most recent example of the global rise of the women’s game, and should reflect what’s to come at next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. Women’s soccer is just getting started.

England secures first-ever Women's Euro title

August 01, 2022

The GIST: As mentioned, host England topped Germany 2–1 in extra time yesterday to secure their first-ever Women’s Euro title and the soccer-crazed nation’s first major trophy in 56 years. Football’s coming home, and it’s likely bringing with it a seismic shift in the women’s game. 

On-field: After a scoreless but spicy first half, Lioness forward Ella Toone came off the bench to give England a 1–0 lead with this cheeky goal in the 62nd minute. But Germany wouldn’t go down without a fight — midfielder Lina Magull equalized in the 79th minute to send the match to extra time.

  • It seemed as if we were destined for anxiety-inducing penalty kicks, but English forward Chloe Kelly scored the eventual game-winner in the 110th minute, punctuating it with an ode to the aforementioned Chastain’s game-changing sports bra celebration. All the feels.

Off field: Yesterday’s 87,192-person (!!!) crowd was the largest to ever take in a Euro match (women’s or men’s), capping off a tourney chock-full of eye-popping figures.