At what cost?
Lewes FC, Mercury 13, and the race for investment in the women’s game
On Friday 6th October, Lewes FC’s owners will vote on a proposal for investment into the club. Mercury 13, a new ‘multi-club ownership group’ are looking to invest $100m in women’s football teams, acquiring controlling stakes across Europe and Latin America, and they want to begin with a team in a picturesque town in East Sussex.
Lewes FC have prided themselves on being run the way a football club should. Established in 1885, the Rooks caught international attention with the decision in 2017 to assign equal resources to their men’s and women’s sides as part of the Equality FC initiative. The Lewes men’s side play in the Isthmian League, Step 3 in the National League system, whilst soon after the Equality FC initiative took effect, the women’s team were accepted into the Women’s Championship.
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Their time in the Championship has been steady but unspectacular, finishing 8th, 9th, 5th and 8th in their four seasons in the division. This year, however, is looking pretty bleak. With five matches played, Lewes are yet to win a game. They have scored just once and have one point on the board as a result of a 0-0 draw with Birmingham City. The losses have not been run away victories for the opposition - only Southampton have scored more than two goals against them - but with this being the first year that the Championship will have two relegation spots instead of just one, it is looking rather ominous early doors.
All this is the context in which Lewes’ several thousand fan owners will vote on investment, specifically for the women’s team.
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