In the continuation of the feature started last week (click on this link to read Part I: https://impetus885775742.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/burnley-women-large-leaps-in-lancashire/), we find out more about life in the FA Women’s Northern Premier, and the club’s links with the men’s side which is helping to increase both fan numbers and sponsors. Thanks to Sinead Kennedy-Peers of Burnley FC Women for her assistance with compiling this feature.
Despite the marvellous start to the season for the Clarets, the club are under no illusions about the challenges they face as the campaign develops: Their aim, ultimately is just to stay up this season as they aim to build on their positive start in the coming seasons. Step three football is tough league, so there’s a long journey ahead. Burnley have been on a rapid rise to get to this level, and at the beginning of this season saw them practically a whole new squad which takes time to embed at the club.
Whilst many clubs have reported a huge boost in terms of players and interest on the back of the World Cup, for Burnley that interest has been impressively consistent over the past few years. The club have reported that the increased interest in their patch has been down to the recent success of the first team as it means there is now a higher-level exit route. This success also helped Burnley attract a higher number and better-quality player to the club. At the beginning of this season eighty players attended trials for the club across two sessions. Having a consistent home ground relationship at Padiham FC has also helped to attract supporters to games and offers some consistency in order to increase numbers and fan engagement. The final key to the raising of women’s football’s profile at Burnley is the close relationship with the parent men’s club at Turf Moor, which sees the women sharing content on the Burnley FC platforms and social channels too which helps spread the word about Burnley FC Women and encourage fans of the male game to follow the women too.
An example of this growing relationship with the men’s side at Turf Moor came when two Burnley FC Women players joined Burnley FC Manager Sean Dyche and two first team men’s players for a BBC and Premier League initiative called Super Movers. The four players featured in a Super Movers film which showcased a series of matchday warm ups for children to try, with the aim to get them active so they are ready to learn in the classroom. The video was launched with a local whole school assembly where over 200 pupils took to the school hall floor to try out the Super Moves, before a surprise appearance and question and answer session with the four players and was shared across all our club platforms, alongside Premier League, Premier League Communities and BBC Education platforms. The Women’s club also tied in with Burnley FC, to align the two clubs, to launch the new 2019/20 season Burnley FC kit. Burnley FC Women striker Sarah Greenhalgh joined the men’s players for a photoshoot to release the new kit, with the images featured on channels across both clubs and were shared with local press.
Income from sponsorship is something that women’s football really needs, and this is something that Burnley Women have placed high importance on. This season, Burnley announced that Michael Bailey Associates Plc will continue as principal kit sponsor for the season,” states Kennedy-Peers. Additionally, the international recruitment company, founded by Burnley FC Chairman Mike Garlick, has sponsored the Burnley FC Women junior and senior team’s kits since 2018. Their logo features on the kit of all 149 Burnley FC Women players, from the under tens team through to the first team. This partnership also further highlighted Burnley FC’s commitment to women’s football. One further crucial relationship is the one with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), which has seen the seat of learning becoming Burnley FC Women’s first official shirt sleeve sponsor.
Looking ahead to the future, Burnley Women hope to continue to benefit from the increased exposure of the women’s game and continue to be playing at a high level in the women’s football pyramid. The club are well aware though that more hard work will be needed to achieve that as the women’s game is no different to the men’s in so far that money has a big impact and certainly an attractive club badge can be beneficial.