By 90Min
March 21, 2019

Chelsea Women manager Emma Hayes has labelled the new multimillion pound partnership between Barclays and the FA Women's Super League as a 'watershed moment'.

Next season, the top flight in England will become the Barclays FA Women's Super League.

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The partnership will yield a £500,000 annual WSL prize fund for clubs. There is also an allocated marketing budget to promote the league's players and clubs and change perceptions, while Barclays will work closely with the FA as a lead partner in grassroots schemes.

For Hayes and everyone else involved with the women's game, it is a deal of huge importance that also promises to be the catalyst for continued growth, especially commercially.

"You need somebody like Barclays to say 'I'll be the first'. The interest is growing. It's a snowball-effect and I can't see anybody getting in the way of England becoming the best place in the world to play," Hayes explained to BBC Sport.

"The women's game is at a tipping point. We'll see more deals like this announced over the next year or two from around the women's football world.

"There had to come a point where somebody said, 'I'm investing in this for all the right reasons', not just as an add-on. I've been saying for some time that I felt this would be the watershed moment, where we would commercialise the game.

"The next big moment is to find a broadcasting platform, putting the game in a position where it has got regularity, a slot, and the best exposure. That's got to be the next big priority of the domestic game."

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The popularity of women's football in England has been growing at a rapid rate over the last 10 years, with an explosion of interest when the Lionesses finished third at the 2015 World Cup.

The national team has been among the best in the world ever since and another strong World Cup performance in France this summer, having already won the 2019 SheBelieves Cup ahead of the dominant United States, will be an even greater boost.

England's Women's Super League is Europe's only professional domestic female league.

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