Date: 11th October 2017 at 1:10pm
Written by:

Generally the question ‘Should women be paid the same as men?’ the answer is generally yes, and I will emphasise the word generally. In the work place a person shouldn’t be paid less or more because of who or what they are, but sometimes it doesn’t always happen like that. If my lass gets paid more, that’s more money coming into the household, and what man wouldn’t want that? If our lass gets paid more than men in her work place, I would be over the moon. Then again, I don’t have an inferiority complex ruling the world.

So why am I writing an article on a football website asking the very question? It is reported that the Norway’s mens football team will take a wage cut so it will be more equal between the sexes and fairer, but this is where common sense needs to come in. The first thing about sport is that it is a total contradiction to equality as every single sport strives to find the best, who watches sport to see everyone is of the same standard, it would be suicidally boring if every single football game ended in a draw if we want all things equal in sport. The best do get rewarded more, and why don’t hear the ‘equality’ card played for non league players in Bradford from say an Asian background to European players in the Premiership, after all it is the same principal and argument as Asian players on average don’t get paid the same as black or white players. Should Valteri Bottas be paid the same as Lewis Hamilton? Should Halifax Town players be paid the same as Manchester United players or should Tyson Fury earn the same in endorsements as Floyd Mayweather? There are reasons they are not, so why argue about equality between a niche sport and one that is practically the lifeline for the population?

The world we live in is a totally different beast than what it was years ago, new equality for all groups are being forced upon us in all walks of life, but if used right, has to be one of the most important things in a modern society for everybody, because we are all affected in some way or other, but why are there arguments about sportswomen not getting paid as much as sportsmen? Let’s throw a little bit of retrospective insight into this, I won’t cater to the liberal left wing PC brigade without using a single brain cell and say yes they should, it’s criminal if they don’t, and nor will I say it’s stupid no they shouldn’t and be antiquated without reason poo pooing progress fearing my own masculinity.

What should govern a sporting participant’s wage?
There should be a few simple parameters on what guides a wage structure in any sport and I mean any sport be it team or individual.

Attendances (paying crowd – not free entrants)
Sponsorship/Endorsements/TV rights.

In a nutshell, income. There is a reason why say Super league players when they retire about 30, they seek jobs such as plumbing just to pay the bills, even the more successful ones that have played in front of 20 thousand supporters week in week out and in front of the SKY cameras, is that fair because footballers get paid more? Women footballers don’t generate the same attendances, there isn’t as much interest in the female game compared to the men’s, tickets are cheaper so even if the crowds were the same that alone doesn’t warrant the same wage, how about sponsorship? This again doesn’t generate the same as the mens game because of less viewers so why isn’t it fair to pay a more ‘equal’ wage? Using simple logic, should a female footballer be paid more than a male rugby league player? Both are niche sports, and only one of them the competitors are playing in front of 10-25 thousand paying supporters every single week. At the end of the day, if people stop watching any team, they don’t get paid, if fewer people turn up to watch (Bradford Bulls anyone) there is less money in the kitty, it really is as simple as that. That may explain why some clubs don’t have a women’s team or have shut theirs down especially if a club is struggling to break even year in year out. The money really has to come from somewhere, either from people that don’t watch it which is just stupid and none productive or more people need to start paying more to continue to support it.

Give it a try before saying yay or nay
I’ve actually tried the women’s game, I’ve tried watching it on TV, I’ve even been to a womens England match and to be fair, I found the quality terrible, the atmosphere poor, and I find that with most women sports, but don’t let me detract anyone from enjoying it or wanting to try it, everything is worth trying at least once. I had the chance to go to watch the women’s GB team at the Olympics but turned down free tickets because someone just couldn’t be bothered going and couldn’t sell the tickets, but I just had no interest in it, and that is in the same week as I paid to watch Egypt of all teams, and this is where the problem lies.

There are only a few female sports I can personally can watch, the Olympics I may not be a big fan of but I can enjoy some of the women’s events as much as the mens with the track and field, women’s boxing I do find dire, so I was a bit wary when I tried women’s UFC, but boy, they are as intense as the men’s not holding back and definitely worth watching, and then there is the tennis which I actually prefer the women’s tennis to the mens. But there seems to be a bit of a pattern.

Women’s team sports don’t cut it with me, no matter how much the sports are shoved into our faces, I just can’t get excited about it and why should I pay to watch a bunch of ‘girls’ running about when I can watch the guys and I’m definitely not going to pay to watch both. The guys can kick harder and faster, run faster, a bit more ruggedness (in the lower leagues), tempers flaring can be funny between grown men, so why would I want to pay for something that for me, isn’t as good or as entertaining? But when sports are individual based that is a total different kettle of fish, you watch it because you like someone on a personal level. I have no affinity with British male tennis players, never have done, I’m a Northerner from a working class background, I actually hate Andy Murray and everything he stands for, Tim Henman was a bit of a wuss and hated that little girly hand gesture he did when he won a point, so the personalities of the men’s I don’t care for. Then you get women players like Serena Williams and over the years like Steffi Graff and Martina Navratilova who all had personalities and exciting to watch. There are arguments that the women should play the same game as men to be paid the same, but my argument is, if women’s tennis generates more viewers/attendances than the mens, pay them more, if it’s about the same, pay them about the same, if less, pay them less. This is why sponsors pay more for certain sports/players because of exposure, nothing to do with ‘equality’. I don’t really care for tennis or Wimbledon, but if Williams at Wimbledon is on the TV I would watch it, to be honest, I would actually go and pay to watch her take on anyone, but I couldn’t care less about the men’s tennis and would switch over even if a Yorkshireman was about to lift the Wimbledon trophy, so for me, I would put my personal money more into the women’s game than the men’s. As a consumer which all supporters are, I put my money where we want to. Would I go and pay to watch the City women’s team, probably not. Would I go and pay to watch the City disabled team, I would actually because I’ve not experienced it. But that’s my choice just like I’ve paid to watch football in I think each of the top 7 tiers of the English game. But I will say, give the women’s game a chance, give it a try, it will be more affordable to take the kids to and less chance of trouble in or outside the ground, like i say, everything is worth trying at least once and things are always better in the flesh than watching on TV.

False economy
The problem with paying women sports teams more is that the money has to come from somewhere especially when clubs are struggling to meet ends meet even in the men’s teams. I don’t like the idea of paying an over inflated match day price for them to subsidize something that only a fraction of people are interested in. Sponsorship again is a bit of a false economy and is the reason people pay over £2 for say a bottle of cola where it in reality costs less than 20p to produce and get it on the shop shelves, I do laugh at advertisements, for example I see Cadbury’s chocolate advertised and think I fancy a chocolate bar, I go out and buy a bar from Lidl or Aldi for a fraction of the price, that is, if I don’t turn over the channel. It really is a false economy and football clubs in particular are businesses with limited funds and like any business, if there is a branch that is a loss maker, why keep it going? If you argue the women’s team should be paid the same, then you have to argue the disabled team has to also on the same merits, then using the same principal, should European players take a wage cut to be more in line with some Asian or African countries, or should countries like England and Spain subsidize and pay the wages for players representing Zimbabwe or Afghanistan in the name of equality chucking common sense out of the window? Paying the women’s game more will have a couple of effects, supporters pay more to watch the men’s game not knowing they are funding another team, or 2, reduce the men’s wages and the success men have built up for the past 100 years without the help or input of women. It is still a predominantly male product just as shaving gel is or size 12 boots and it always will be, this is why a false economy will be created to satisfy a minority.

Common sense
Sport I will reiterate is a notion to find the best or be the best, this is why in a lot of sports, women’s sports won’t be seen in the same light as the men’s, this is why many fans won’t watch anything less than the Premier league because even the Championship is absolutely terrible in comparison, the best and more popular get paid more it is as simple as that, even going back to the days of the Roman gladiators thousands of years ago, but on the other side of the coin, like any sport, women’s sport needs exposure to get the fan base and any sponsorship or news out there is great, I will promote the women’s game where I can on here, because there is some interest out there. If there is no exposure, wages will be minimal. but you have to ask yourself, if a player/team performs in front of small crowds paying low prices or even getting in for free to bump up the numbers, should the finances be seen in the same light as after all Bradford Park Avenue players aren’t paid the same as Bradford City players, but even is that fair? Or is it just common sense? Tickets for the women’s world cup will cost a fraction of the men’s world cup, the TV rights will cost a fraction and so will the viewing figures be less. I’ve been to see England and even people outside the ground struggle to give free tickets away, I’ve struggled to take people with me to watch the women’s game, wouldn’t have cost them a penny to get in or get there as I was driving. Sponsorship of individual players will be a fraction, after all who will give the best female players the same money as say Messi or Ronaldo to wear their boots, until women’s sports generates the same or more viewers, it will never happen. It’s just pure common sense. I would also hate to think that I go to Valley Parade and I pay £25 on the day to watch City, and if £5 of that is siphoned off to the women’s team, I would be thinking why? Then I would be thinking I’m getting scammed, as then I know they can make the ticket price cheaper in what I want to watch. You wouldn’t pay £12 for a £7 or £8 cinema ticket to watch the latest blockbuster then a couple of quid goes to an indie film showing that you won’t even watch or even knows exists. The same argument has been circulating in film and media, but again, an actor or presenter should be paid on viewers and interest they generate not because of their co-stars, this is why there are differences in wages in many fields especially in sport, media or music. Wages should be fair, but common sense has to be applied. I will just ask 1 simple question to all Bradford City fans. If women players deserve a more ‘equal’ pay to the mens, name 1 women’s Bradford City OR a women’s international England player. I don’t expect to see 22000 supporters posting an answer any time soon. Someone may use Google and try and be clever, but there will be some that can name the entire squad, but these numbers are too small to justify seeing both sports in the same light.

Another slant
The fairest thing for men’s and women’s international teams, I have always had the notion that players should never be paid to play for their country, they received millions in endorsements and wages already. It should be a honour to represent your country, I agree expenses should be paid and facilities and opportunities should be exactly the same for the men and women’s teams as that would only be right, but I would argue more don’t pay for any international appearances rather than make them more equal, because at the end of the day they are 2 totally different sports with a vast difference in fan/supporter base and interest. Any prize money should then be distributed at the grass roots levels to help future generations. This is why popular sports pay more than lesser popular or should I use the term niche sports.

Join The Vital Debate