Health and beauty retailer Boots has made a landmark investment in women's football, agreeing three-year partnerships with the five football associations of the British Isles.
The Football Association of Wales has described the deal as the “biggest commercial agreement” in Welsh women’s sport history.
It will include the time span of the upcoming 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and the 2021 Women’s European Championships in England, foussing on telling the stories of some of Wales’ female football role models to inspire active participation from young girls and women across the country.
Alongside the Welsh deal, Boots has also agreed partnerships with the women’s national teams from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It marks the first time a brand has partnered with all five women’s national teams - a deal brokered by MediaCom Sports & Entertainment, whose Worldwide VP Misha Sher said: “Women’s football is going through a significant moment of change and this partnership will be transformative for the growth of the game.
"Boots has been supporting women for 170 years and will continue that commitment by elevating awareness and participation in women's game through this ground-breaking partnership with the five FAs. With plans to fully integrate the marketing of the partnerships across its 2,500 stores in UK and Ireland, Boots will provide women's football with unparalleled levels of exposure. This a great opportunity for the sport and its fans."
Helen Normoyle, Marketing Director at Boots UK, added: “It’s so exciting to see how women’s football has evolved and really taken off over the last few years, especially as a retailer who is proud to champion women’s right to live well, feel better and look great.
“Boots has always had a strong heritage of supporting women and in fact we even founded our very own women’s sports team as early as 1894. 43% of women believe there aren’t many female sporting role models, but we know that this simply isn’t true.
“Via our partnership we are excited to give these inspirational women a further opportunity to tell their stories to help encourage other women to experience the transformative confidence sport can bring."
The five-part agreement will give Boots access to rights including match-day advertising and pitch-side branding, player appearances and hospitality.
FA Wales Chief Executive Jonathan Ford commented: “Boots want to inspire women to be their best self and we at the FAW want to inspire women to be their best self in football and achieve their potential on and off the field, whether that’s as an elite player, someone who plays for fun, a coach, referee or even wider in the game.
“We want to partner with brands who can support us in raising awareness around the women’s game in Wales, to challenge perceptions and come on the journey with us to reach our ambitious target of 20k girls playing in Wales by 2024.
“It’s the biggest sponsorship deal to date for women’s sport in Wales – we hope that a successful partnership with Boots will highlight the benefits to brands considering sponsoring women’s sport in Wales, and we can move forward to secure further investment into the women’s game. Boots are paving the way for commercial brands to get behind Women’s Sport in Wales.”
Mark Bullingham, Chief Commercial and Football Development Officer at the English FA, added: “We’re delighted to be partnering with Boots as Official Partner of the England Women’s Team, in what is a hugely exciting time for women’s football.
"It’s important that we partner with brands that share our passion for raising the profile of the sport and the ability to help us do so. I look forward to seeing us work together to make The Lionesses household names and inspiring the next generation of girls to take up the game.”
Commercial investment in women's football has been building momentum over recent months. Boots' announcement follows recent deals involving brands such as Nike, Visa, and Barclays.
But the absence of beauty brands within women's sport sponsorship was among the points raised by England Netball CEO Joanna Adams at the recent Sport Industry Breakfast Club event.
Meanwhile, Connexi, the data-driven platform that matches brands with commercially relevant rights-holders and talent via an online marketplace, has announced an extension of its offer to incorporate dedicated opportunities in women’s sports sponsorship.
The update to Connexi’s targeting tools will allow female sports teams to connect with like-minded brands across a variety of industries through specific sections.
In parallel with the expansion, the platform will be updated to automate the collection of relevant YouGov Sport data, building an even more accurate picture of what incentivises fans of women’s sport.
Connexi founder Rory Stewart-Richardson explained: “Connexi will help these brands source the most relevant assets within the female sporting world, not just based on data, but also values.”
In announcing its latest development, Connexi cited research from sports marketing agency Two Circles that attendances for women’s sport in the UK had grown 38% year-on-year since 2013 to reach 682,000 in 2018.
Tim Crow, Non-Executive Director of Connexi, added: “Women’s sports sponsorship is now a high-profile industry, but still needs nurturing to accelerate growth. Connexi is perfectly positioned to do just that, by providing women’s sports organisations with a global online platform.”