Palace Ladies told to raise £250 or they won’t be able to play

Golf hackers will be familiar with the idea of “pay to play”, and most Sunday morning footballers and club rugby players will expect to pay their subs before being allowed on to the pitch for their weekly game.

Women players at Crystal Palace have been asked to bring in sponsorship money by the club

But there is a mix of shock and outrage that the women who play for Crystal Palace Ladies have been told to find themselves £250 in sponsorship cash or face not playing for the club any more.

Coming from a Premier League club which has just give its star, male player, a contract worth £130,000 per week, and which reported £11.8million profit on its most recent accounts, the move towards the women players seems especially mean.

The Grauniad newspaper is reporting this afternoon that the move “has caused anger among some senior figures in the women’s game who feel it sends out an unhelpful message about the importance of female players to the club”.

Palace’s women’s team play in the FA Women’s Championship, the second tier of the game, and are due to play their first game of the season on Sunday. But, the Grauniad report says, “some players, who may be drafted up to the first-team squad, are still unsure how they will raise the £250 which the club is insisting it needs for subscription fees”.

An unnamed source connected with the women’s team is quoted as saying, “The timing of the demand to find sponsorship was unhelpful, too, the same week that Wilfried Zaha was given a new £130,000 a week contract.

“We know it is a different beast entirely to the men’s game but some of the players are getting really fed up with the structure and the message it sends. They’ve been given a letter to hand out to potential sponsors, and it’s all very patronising.”

The report suggests that the club believes that by getting their women’s players out pitching for their own sponsorship packages, they might “strengthen ties with the community”.

Thing is, the women players already have strong ties with the community. Two of the biggest Palace fanzines, Five-Year Plan and The Eagles Beak, already sponsor aspects of the women’s team.

The Guardian updated its online report on Tuesday night to add a statement from the club, which said, “All 21 members of the senior squad have bespoke contracts, funded by Crystal Palace, and are either paid wages or are reimbursed for expenses. They do not pay a subscription fee. They are encouraged to find sponsors to help raise the club’s profile and forge links with the business and employment community but it is not a condition of playing.

“Members of every other team at Palace Ladies pay an annual membership fee but reserve team players, whose subscription is already subsidised by the club, have been told their membership fees will be waived completely if they can find £250 sponsorship.”

Updated Sep 4 to add Crystal Palace FC statement

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4 Responses to Palace Ladies told to raise £250 or they won’t be able to play

  1. Chris says:

    The male players should step forward here and sponsor the entire women’s squad.

  2. Or the male players should be asked to go out into the community and local businesses, in their Lamborghinis or Porsches, and seek sponsorship and support for themselves.

    • It is understood that ever since he signed professional terms, Wilfried Zaha has donated 10 per cent of his earnings to charitable causes. So class on and off the pitch.

      And Google Juan Mata, too: the Spanish midfielder, now at ManUre, does similar stuff.

      When Grenfell happened last year, it was well-paid young men fortunate enough to be professional footballers who led much of the charity fund-raising efforts.

      Such sportspeople have very short careers in which to make their money.

      We ought not burden them with blame when the football clubs that employ them make crass decisions.

  3. Chris says:

    Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not accusing the male players of anything. But a one-off payment of 250 quid each would not only help the women players but perhaps shame the club into some sort of action. Believe you me, I know about women’s football and it’s struggle to be accepted. My wife was an England international and my daughter is involved in the game full time. And thanks for the snippet about Zaha’s largesse. As you say, class.

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