By Alicia Pryzsienak

When Chelsea FC Women announced the signing of ‘The Australian Genius’ Sam Kerr, the female game in England took a huge step forward in its arms race against its US counterparts.

As the captain of her country and all-time leading goal scorer in the National Women’s Soccer League (US) and Australian W-League, the signing of Kerr has further helped to place the Barclays FA Women’s Super League (WSL) on the world map.

The WSL is advancing at a steady pace. Record attendances are being achieved this season, and the wider investment and sponsorship from organisations such as Barclays’ is evidence that there is a clear plan in place for the league’s development.

Chelsea’s manager, Emma Hayes, has previously said: “The WSL is the best league in the world. This is a utopia.” Potentially, when considering current investment and future opportunities, this is true. Other leagues, however, are not far behind.

Recently, OL Group, the parent group of Olympique Lyonnais, has been carrying out negotiations regarding a takeover of Tacoma based Seattle Reign FC, captained by Ballon d’Or winner Megan Rapinoe. This is creative thinking from the owners as this move should prove to be hugely beneficial. Reign are not affiliated with any MLS team, therefore a partnership with one of the world’s wealthiest clubs – as well as Champions League holders – can only be beneficial. The Division 1 Féminine is currently the WSL’s biggest rival, so the OL Group’s investment and alignment with the NWSL can only pose a greater threat to the English league.

Two things will always give the US league a competitive advantage. In 1972, Title IX was introduced meaning female sport at high school and college level must be funded to the same extent as male sport. Currently, this is not enforced in England. Secondly, The Draft. This system ensures no other league can compete with such competitiveness; the effectiveness of drafting talented players from their colleges is something which will be very hard to replicate.

Salary caps being lifted, affiliations with cash rich clubs, record sponsorship deals being agreed and household names coming into the league to compete are all a step in the right direction in creating a mirror-image of the men’s game. There is a lot to like, but also a lot to be wary of. If the WSL wishes to continue to grow in dominance and presence, they must look at international affiliations in order to create a greater global presence and attract a greater fan base, just like Lyons across the Channel.

In an attempt to gain such value and sovereignty, women’s leagues around the world must ensure that they do not lose the core values of the game and the image which they wish to present to their fans.