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Meet The Only Team In Europe Who Pay Their Men And Women's Teams Equally

Meet The Only Team In Europe Who Pay Their Men And Women's Teams Equally

Lewes FC are all about gender equality when it comes their football sides.

Josh Lawless

Josh Lawless

Lewes FC are the only team in Europe who pay their men and women's sides equally.

100 years on from the FA banning women from playing football on these shores back in 1921, the East Sussex outfit are leading the push for gender equality within football.

The men's side ply their trade in the Isthmian League Premier Division, the seventh tier of English football - while the women's team are in the FA Women's Championship alongside the likes of Liverpool and Leicester City.

The club, less than a ten minute drive from Premier League side Brighton and Hove Albion, have a "six-figure playing budget" for both their teams and are in their own league when it comes to equal pay.

Image: Lewes FC
Image: Lewes FC

They made the unprecedented move in 2017 as they feel it is not only fair, but "makes absolute business sense".

"There were certainly some detractors that said it wouldn't work," the club's general manager Maggie Murphy told The Sportsman.

"I think there were people that were worried that, by introducing equality, you were taking something away from the men's team. What was crucial was the men's team were promoted the season we introduced equality. That showed that equality isn't about making one side lose, it's hopefully about creating one cohesive whole.

"It's taken almost four years to prove that it's not a gimmick and that it's actually a way of life; a football club can operate and function [this way], and it's not superficial.

"I also think the big deal wouldn't have come about unless we had that position with the women's team. We're now generating revenue streams that just were not available to the club if it was just a very traditional non-League men's football club.

"We knew we were creating change, we knew there was a culture shift, and we knew that things were getting better and we were doing the right thing.

Former England international Claire Rafferty is working for Lewis in an on-executive directorial capacity and has been involved in a short film with sponsor Lyle and Scott to mark International Women's Day.

Before the ban that lasted 50 years, women's games were seeing 50,000 fans pack into stadiums. It seriously stunted the growth of the women's game, but with the steps made in recent years, Lewes captain Rhian Cleverly believes the future is bright again.

"When I was a kid I never thought I could be a professional footballer and change has to start somewhere," Cleverly told the BBC.

"There's a reason why men are so far ahead. They started much before us and then there's the ban, so we're at a disadvantage.

"Change is uncomfortable and sometimes it doesn't feel like it's possible, but if you make those steps, and it takes time, there can be a bright future for women's football."

Featured Image Credit: Lewes FC

Topics: Football, Non-League