It is no secret that a very small percentage of transfers in the women's game involves a transfer fee, which makes the reports from L'Equipe that Everton are willing to spend €100,000 on Valérie Gauvin an incredible statement of intent from the Toffees.
The club's restructuring back in March echoed the view that Everton wanted to take their women's side seriously, with Everton CEO Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale saying:
“Our ‘One Club’ vision is a clear symbol of togetherness and unity. We have already taken the progressive and significant steps of bringing our men’s and women’s teams closer together in identity and location, with them both using the state-of-the-art facilities at USM Finch Farm. We will now build on the foundations for success - with a clear focus on competing for honours with the elite of women’s football.”
The Toffees' women's side have already moved into world-class facilities at USM Finch Farm, have had a bespoke stadium built for themselves at Walton Hall Park and they are now receiving the financial support in the transfer market. It looks like it is only a matter of time until they break into the top-end of the WSL
Transfer fees few and far between
Unlike with their male counterparts, transfer fees are rarely seen in moves in the women's game. Without the 'super-agents' which have seen an often mercenary mentality from players in the men's game, and in turn, skyrocketing transfer fees, clubs and players alike prefer to see out contracts, only moving when they are finished.
According to FIFA's latest Global Transfer Market report, a mere $652,032 was spent worldwide on transfers in the women's game in 2019.
When Manchester City submitted their latest financial reports to companies house, it revealed that Ellen White, Matilde Fidalgo, Aoife Mannion, Laura Coombs, Karima Benameur and Lee Geum-min were acquired by the club for a total cost of only £8,000.
The trading of the only assets that a football club can, players, is a crucial element to keeping the business sustainable, and the main method used by those teams in divisions where television deals are rare.
The fact that Everton are willing to spend €100,000, equal to 18% of worldwide spending last year, on a singular player further cements the fact that the club's board are looking for success in the domestic game and on the European stage. Whether that valuation is a fair deal for Gauvin however arises an entirely different set of questions.
Champions League expansion
It was announced back in December of 2019 that the 2020/21 UEFA Women's Champions League would be the last occasion where only two teams from the Women's Super League qualify, with that number expanding to three in the years thereafter.
The WSL currently operates with a clear 'top-three' of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City who dominate the top-end of the division. However, Everton's increased spending could see them propelled into that area of the division, and a top-three turn into a top-four.
There are others in the division who also have ambitions to compete at that level, and Everton's financial backing could be the turning point for those sides not to drop behind as the gap in the division between the top and the bottom increasingly widens.
Manchester United as a whole were recently placed second in the world in the 'Brand Football Finance Top 50', and the same notoriety which has seen an increased following both on social media and with attendances at Leigh Sports Village could be crucial if Casey Stoney's side are also to compete for Europe.
There are other clubs who may not be the first clubs who come to mind who are willing to fund their women's and also have the facility to do so. According to reports from The Times' Molly Hudson, Leicester City want to see their women's side become a WSL side, and the Srivaddhanaprabha family are the fourth-richest owners in the Premier League.
Newcomers Aston Villa have recently secured a deal with Walsall to play their WSL matches at the Bescot Stadium, and are another side who have the relevant finances needed to compete at the top-end of both domestic and European football. Above the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United, their owners are the sixth-richest in the Premier League with a staggering net worth of USD $5.8bn.
Looking further afield, both Eintracht Frankfurt and Real Madrid have joined their respective top divisions this season and could likely see themselves occupy the third-place spot and qualify for Champions League football.
The introduction of a strong Everton is a positive for the entire Women's Super League and could help to propel the division to the next level.