My Views

August 19th, 2023
Written by John Grogan

Sometimes people say politics makes no difference but it is no accident that the Women’s World Cup Final is live on BBC and ITV at 11am this Sunday Morning.

For many years it has been the law of the land that some events like the Olympics, the FA Cup Final and the Wimbledon finals have to be made available first to free to air channels at a reasonable price. Together with others I spent several years campaigning for the Women’s World Cup Finals to be added to that list. Sometimes it takes persistent campaigning by many people over a long time to make a difference. 

The following three press stories illustrate the timeline involved: 

On July 10th 2018 the Guardian reported a parliamentary debate as follows: 

‘Grogan will also use the parliamentary debate to suggest that the World Cups for women in football, rugby and cricket should be added to the list of protected events to recognise their increased popularity among the public. It is currently only the male World Cups in those sports which fall under the government legislation’ 

On November 24th 2021 Broadcast Magazine reported on an online television industry conference: 

‘Former Labour MP for Selby and, more recently, Keighley, John Grogan, who has campaigned for the listed events to be expanded added ‘ It is time things like the women’s World Cup are added to the list . The danger is that it becomes more and more popular, and in a few years it disappears onto pay-TV.’

Then on 25th April 2022 a Government Press Release announced:

‘The Government has confirmed that two women’s sports events will be added to the Listed Events Regime - the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the UEFA Women’s European Championships’ 

Seven million people watched the England semi final last Wednesday morning. The viewing figures for tomorrow could well be double that. Everybody with access to a TV or a smart phone has been able to watch the action and the five players from Yorkshire taking part. When I bought my fish and chips last night it was the talk of the shop. ‘Our lasses have made us proud‘ said one eighty year old pensioner who had evidently over recent days acquired an in-depth knowledge of the offside rule after a lifetime of indifference to the beautiful game. 

When I see the boys and girls who have been inspired to take up the game playing on the fields and pitches of Keighley and Ilkley I know something good has happened. In Bradford City Hall there is a display of pictures of women’s football teams from the early part of the century when the game thrived in West Yorkshire. After the First World War the women’s game attracted as big crowds in our city as did many men’s matches. Then the Football Association banned women’s football, a prohibition which lasted until 1971.

Of course there will be many more important things happening in the world on Sunday than a football match but maybe Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp got it right when he said:

‘Football may be the most important of the least important things’