Lewes FC director and former England international, Claire Rafferty has worked with their sponsors Lyle & Scott to produce a short film discussing the centenary ban of women’s football by the FA.
To mark yesterday’s International Women’s Day, Lewes FC and Lyle & Scott produced an informative video describing the FA’s ban on women’s football, which was imposed on 5th December 1921.
In the video, Lewes FC director Clair Rafferty described how women’s football would draw massive crowds, with 53,000 attending the 1920 Boxing Day affair at Goodison Park between Dick Kerr’s Ladies and St Helens. However, shortly after this game, the FA decided that football was to be banned for women to ‘protect’ them. This ban was only lifted in 1971.
In more recent years, Lewes FC has become a pioneer for women’s football across the world. In 2017, they became the first club in England to equally split their resources and pay between their men’s and women’s teams.
Players for Lewes FC all play on the same pitch, train at the same ground and are all paid equally, which has led to some nicknaming the club Equality FC.
“I think a huge majority of football fans have no idea that this ban was ever in place, why it was introduced or that it lasted so long. It’s almost impossible to calculate the true cost of the damage it did to the development of the women’s game but, there in no doubt, the gap in resources, revenues and opportunities would be far more equal if it had never been in place,” said Rafferty.
“When I was growing up I experienced first-hand the lack of opportunity and access to facilities compared to my male counterparts. That’s why I’m thrilled to present this film and be a part of the Lewes FC collective, to show that there is a progressive model, with equality and community at its heart, that football fans can get behind.
Lyle & Scott agreed an estimated £100,000 sponsorship deal with Lewes as recently as December 2020, which is set to support the clubs infrastructure and help with player acquisitions. Lyle & Scott are also set to work with Lewes to produce more films exploring equality and diversity.
Author: Fred Dobberson