20 September 2021
Women in Football's mission to support gender equality in the game will be supercharged by expert advisory and analysis thanks to a pledge for the #GetOnside campaign from a top international sports consultancy firm.
Portas is a strategy consultancy company dedicated to sport, employing 80+ consultants at its offices in London, Riyadh, Dubai and Singapore. After establishing a relationship with WIF on other projects, the firm has pledged future strategic support as its commitment to #GetOnside.
With a wealth of experience in providing services to UEFA, the FA and other national associations – particularly on the growth of the women's game – Portas is ideally placed to advise.
Portas's UK & Europe business is headed up by Patrick Massey, who told WIF about the company's motivation to join the #GetOnside family.
"Our overall mission as a company is to harness the power of sport to unlock its benefits for society," he says. "So when I reflect on our partnership with Women in Football, that really is right at the core of that.
"And I think football, being one of the biggest games in the world, is a really important sport in achieving the societal impact that sport can deliver. Helping make sure that women's football is growing, and that women have a place to contribute all the value they can to men's and women's football, is absolutely central."
The insights Portas has gleaned on those benefits from sport to society as a whole will support WIF in shaping and running its future projects. Patrick and his colleagues have recently been working with UEFA on developing the business case for women's professional football, and he stresses the social as well as the financial case.
"We're discussing what the vision for women's professional football looks like over the next 10 years and what is the size of the prize for clubs, leagues and partners who are investing into that, commercially but also in terms of the wider societal benefits – the benefits for the whole game, such as engaging with female fans in a better way and the value that adds to the game overall."
A similar project with the FA has helped to make the case for increased investment in football in England, where Patrick's work "really showed the transformational health, economic and social impact that playing football can have". The case is particularly strong for girls' football, as Portas's research found that in some areas the benefits of playing are proportionally even greater for girls than for boys and adults.
So what motivated Portas to take the plunge and #GetOnside? Patrick says the work he's undertaken already with WIF persuaded him that it was the right thing to do.
"We've been working with Women in Football for a few years now on a number of initiatives and we're convinced of the really important role that WIF is playing in the football ecosystem to empower and get more women into the football workforce.
"In the interactions we've had, we've really enjoyed working with Women in Football. So this year we really wanted to take that partnership even further. We're incredibly excited about it. Right now is an incredibly important moment for the women's game, and although I think football has made great progress over the last couple of years, we are still just at the outset of the journey and there's plenty more headroom for growth, and to achieve this we need to ensure there are more opportunities for women to lead this change."
As both a business associate of WIF and an expert consultant, Patrick is perhaps better placed than anyone to give advice to other organisations considering a #GetOnside pledge. Finally, then, what would that advice be?
"If you look at the quality of companies and associations who are getting involved in the #GetOnside campaign, that in itself speaks volumes. I think my main message would be: get involved.
"No pledge is too small – everything that everyone can do can make a big difference. So don't get caught up in red tape – just figure out how your organisation can help and start from there."
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