An overwhelming majority of women’s football fans in England have called for the introduction of full-time referees.
Almost nine in 10 (87.6 per cent) out of 2,156 fans who responded to the Women’s Game Survey conducted by the English Football Supporters’ Association believed this move would help improve the standard of officiating.
While referees in the Barclays Women’s Premier League and the Championship are not full time, they do have access to the same facilities, training and support as their counterparts in the men’s game after Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) took on their management from the start of the 2021-22 season.
Fifteen have recently joined the Women’s Select Group in advance of the new campaign. A number of officials are now on contracts with the PGMOL as a positive step towards the introduction of full-time officials, while the Football Association remains committed to the development of match officials at tier 3 and below.
Less than a third — 32.8 per cent — of respondents thought VAR was the answer, but 74.3 per cent backed the introduction of goal line technology.
Fans from 49 of the 51 clubs in the top four tiers of the women’s pyramid, and more beyond, took part in the survey.
A majority of respondents (81.5 per cent) felt that television coverage of the women’s game had improved but only 26 per cent felt there was sufficient coverage on mainstream television and media.
Almost 90 per cent of respondents said more money should be redistributed from the men’s game to support the development of women’s football.
Four out of 10 fans surveyed said they had already bought tickets for matches at next month’s Women’s European Championship, while a further one in five said they planned to.