From the Boardroom | Preston North End

Director Stephen Browne penned the boardroom notes for the Preston North End edition of 'Our Town' on the day we launched the Hatters' partnership with Her Game Too...


Good afternoon fellow Hatters, and welcome to Ryan Lowe and his Preston North End team.

The Lilywhites had a solid mid-table finish last year, but also suffered the sad news of the passing of their owner. They have a rich history and are a team that conjure up many memories for us all - one of those names in English Football that have achieved so much in the past and had such wonderful players.

We have many things in common regarding history and we would both like to add to those glory days, so whilst there have been draws all round for both Clubs in these early days of the season, with three points to fight for the game is sure to be enthralling.

I start by giving shout outs…

…firstly a huge congratulations and thank you to Harry on the fifth anniversary of him being with us. As soon as Harry gets the ball, the excitement builds as we watch his pace and running often leading to yet another goal threat. Off the pitch, Harry is an excellent ambassador for our great Club, so again, I tip my hat to you.

Secondly, Thursday was the seventh anniversary of Pottsy first pulling on a Luton Town shirt, which hardly seems possible. Again, a lovely person who has represented us on and off the pitch so well, and a player who has continually improved and shown he can compete in every division. Thank you Dan, and here’s to an even better season.

It was pointed out to me (thanks Stu!) that Dan’s debut was in our League Cup win over Bristol City, in the days when we were in League 2 and The Robins were flying high in the Championship with a side containing a certain Luke Freeman. It was our turn that night to be the giant killers. Whilst I would rather not linger on Tuesday’s result, we do wish Newport County well and hope they go on a Cup run – they came away to a tough place and did their job very well indeed.

It hurts to be ‘giant killed’, and for any of those that say “It’s only the League Cup and we want to concentrate on the League….” then I must say they could not be further from the truth. We want to win every game. We want the lads to give their all and be proud of what they do on the pitch. We want you to be proud. And because every Board member has orange blood, any loss in any competition hurts us. Even more reason to congratulate Newport on their win.

Nathan and his team, and the players, are hungry to put right that performance and today we have the chance to put our dumping out of the Cup into the past.

Meanwhile, the Lionesses have put a smile on the nation’s face and have shown how good a force football can be. The atmosphere in the team, and at the games, was electric and they are wonderful role models showing the capacity Women’s football has to grow across the World, not just in England.

It has taken a very long time for the Women’s game to get the recognition it deserves. Doncaster Belles and Charlton Athletic led the way but it has taken far too long for the potential to be harnessed… so now it is down to football to give it the support and resources it deserves.

I would hope that within a short space of time we are seeing competitive women’s teams up and down the country fighting it out for trophies and positions. I hesitate because we know that the men’s game is broken. We know the financials are crazy and unsustainable. So, the last thing anyone of any gender should want is for the women’s game to follow the same pattern as the men’s. Surely, if the women’s game copies the Premier League, won’t that mean all we will see is 6-8 clubs soaking up all the money, players, and recognition?

The Premier League keeps for itself over 90% of what football in England earns. We already know that getting promoted from the Championship is worth close to £200m which is a 10-15x multiple of Championship income levels. Sky TV kindly pointed out the vast difference even between Championship clubs with the Play-Off finalists spending the best part of £50m to be competitive against our sub-£2m spend.

So, when you add on to that the fact that the ‘Greedy Six’ (to coin a term from a well-known podcast) have incomes of a further £300m versus other Premier League clubs, there are actually two leagues within one, with extremely little chance of ‘a Leicester’ ever happening again.

If there’s one thing the women’s game can learn from, it’s the mistakes of the men. Please don’t allow the women’s game to become a plaything for just the very largest in the country. Please think of ways to avoid the hugely unfair and uneven playing field the men’s game finds itself in.

We want women up and down the country to have access to the great game, and to be able to show their skills in a level and competitive playing system. To do this, support must be given to every level from Academy upwards, and all efforts must be made to stop the ‘Greedy Six’ taking 90% of the revenues. If a few are allowed to soak up everything, how can Clubs in the Championship, L1, and L2 set up the facilities and infrastructure and financing of the women’s game to make it vibrant and inclusive everywhere? We see most Clubs run to the wire, and very often over it, so how can we make sure that the women’s game corrects the male wrongs?

Women’s football is proving it has a fantastic future. For years and years, money-focussed males dominating our game have largely ignored the efforts that the women’s game has had to go to, sometimes with some sexism thrown in. I sincerely hope it is not those same, often secretive, suited, grey-haired group of men that decide on the way forward for the women’s game. It is vital women have a far, far greater say at the highest levels than they have previously had in our national sport.

Time will tell what happens. I hope I am not writing programme notes in the 2030’s ruing the fact that there are only 6-10 competitive women’s team in England, carrying the same ol’ names we are becoming used to in the Premier League. Instead, I’d love to be congratulating AFC Wimbledon women’s team on their recent FA Cup win, or better still, Luton Town Ladies!

The women’s game is at a crossroads, and all supporters hold the key. Together, fans across the country rejected the so called ‘European Super League’ proposals that were set to benefit just six English clubs. The depth of feeling against this attempt to steal our national game shows how much we, as supporters, can achieve. Woe betide anyone that tries to segregate the women’s game into the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’, or if they try to introduce systems that only favour the fans are watching!

The Lionesses are deservedly role models for a whole new generation. Over the next decade that generation will turn out some wonderful talents from all over the country, with many of those talents citing the Lionesses as inspiration. Football as a whole must ensure that the right support is in place for people to achieve their dreams, and as part of that, we are delighted today to support the Her Game Too campaign, which aims to raise awareness on sexist abuse within football.

We are proud to say that several of our brilliant female staff are part of the group and you’ll read elsewhere in today’s programme and online about the fine work going on in making football a fair sport for everyone. The players will sport Her Game Too shirts in the warm-up, too.

Sing loud and proud for them, and raise that roof!

Come on you Hatters!


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