Women's FA Cup: Lewes call on FA to redress 'enormous gap' in prize money

Lewes fans
Lewes FC Women play their home games at The Dripping Pan

Lewes FC have called on the Football Association to "redress the enormous gap" in the men's and women's FA Cup funds and want to see equal prize pots.

The total men's prize money is over 100 times more than that for the women's competition - and the men's winners get £3.6m compared to the women's £25,000.

Lewes, whose women's team play in the Championship, provide the same budgets for their female and male squads.

The fourth round of both cups takes place between 24 and 27 January.

Men's fourth-round winners will collect £180,000, while their female counterparts receive just £2,000.

"It's FA Cup fourth-round weekend for men's and women's football but there isn't anything to cheer when it comes to the prize funds on offer," Lewes said in a statement on Friday.

"Lewes FC today calls for the FA to break the link with revenue and redress the enormous gap in FA Cup prize money. Women's teams get around 1% of the men's total.

"These figures represent an even higher proportional discrepancy than the prize money awarded by Fifa for the World Cup."

Earlier this month, an FA spokesperson told BBC Sport: "While we recognise there is currently a significant disparity between prize money for the men's and women's competitions, these are determined by the amounts of money generated through commercial revenue.

"The Emirates FA Cup is the biggest revenue producer for the FA and currently generates £212m per annum.

"This revenue enables us to invest back into football at all levels and we have made significant progress to develop the women's game as a result, investing over £18m into the 'Game Plan for Growth', our ambitious strategy for the women's game."

This season's Women's FA Cup is currently without a sponsor, after SSE's deal expired last summer.

Lewes' statement added: "The main justification given for this vast difference in prize money is that the men's FA cup generates more revenue.

"The primary reason that men's football currently generates more revenue in England is that the FA banned women's football for 50 years, stymying growth and distorting a nation's understanding of whose talent and potential is worth investing in.

"Lewes FC backs the Football Association's "For All" strategy and believes that its Women's Football Strategy has led to important gains in the growth and acceptance of women's football and is being run by an excellent team of people."

The Sussex club host Billericay - the lowest-ranked side remaining in the competition.

But this season's winners of the Women's FA Cup at Wembley on 9 May will receive less prize money than the winners of the men's FA Vase, the secondary non-league cup competition.

In 2015, then-finalists Notts County said they would lose money even if they won the competition at Wembley.

And earlier this month, BBC Sport was made aware of at least three clubs who have lost money through the cost of an away tie in the women's FA Cup, relative to the prize money for winning a tie in the early rounds.

Lewes FC's general manager Maggie Murphy added: "A dramatic increase in funding via the equalisation of FA Cup prize money would be a signal that the governing body is ready to right the wrongs of the 50-year ban and is playing its part to rapidly speed up equality in the game.

"Higher prize funds for the women's game would also likely see a dramatic change in how clubs invest in their women's football set-ups."

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