• Manchester United could cover all running costs and the salaries of Lewes staff
  • Lewes’ 550-seat ground is small compared to United’s 74,000-seat Old Trafford
  • Maggie Murphy, CEO of Lewes, says these differences make it an intriguing game.

Soccer giants Manchester United may be in for quite a culture shock when they head to the small Dripping Pan stadium to take on Lewes Women in tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter-final.

Lewes chief executive Maggie Murphy says the have-and-have-not differences between star-studded United and Lewes make this ‘David and Goliath’ tie such an intriguing combination.

Women’s Super League title contenders United, who play at the 74,000-capacity Old Trafford and the modern £83m Leigh Sports Village, have a squad that includes several of England’s Lionesses who won the European Championship last summer.

While United’s players are well paid and fill full-time positions, the Lewes squad contains several who have part-time jobs elsewhere, including two who work at the second-tier club.

In fact, United’s £2 million annual wage bill is enough to cover all the costs of running Lewes, including salaries for all staff and men and women and men’s sides, who are paid the same, making Lewes the only club in the world to do so.

Lewes chief executive Maggie Murphy (pictured) says the differences between Manchester United and Lewes will make this ‘David and Goliath’ tie an interesting matchup

Table of Contents

Lewes to see:

  • Ellie Mason The full-back has scored five cup goals, including four in the latest round against Cardiff, and has been named Vitality’s player of the round in two of the previous three.
  • Sophie Whitehouse The goalkeeper has been exceptional this year and has kept Lewes in contention in key matches.
  • Amelia Hazard The midfield powerhouse is strong, hard-working and never tires.

It would also cover the cost of their youth teams, the organization of matches and the upkeep of their “quirky” and “small” 550-slot ground.

Murphy, 39, believes it’s these differences, shown to a “raucous” crowd of almost 3,000 and a BBC iPlayer audience, that make for an interesting lineup.

She told MailOnline: ”Our players may be less decorated but they graft and grind and are here to be the best players they can be. They are not given anything on a plate.

“In terms of our fans, we play and work within our fans and communities, which means we have a growing fan base that is passionate and will be in full force.

“That will work in our favor as it means we have an incredibly boisterous and engaged crowd and the atmosphere will be electric.”

Pointing out the obvious differences between the respective clubs’ facilities, Murphy continued: ‘The Dripping Pan is old school, quirky and space limited. Our changing rooms will not be what United players are used to. It is a single room with a wooden bench around it. It will be tight for his big team.

It has clothespins, but that’s about it. I don’t even think it has a power point, so I warn you if you want music, you’ll have to charge your stereos first!

“So the challenge for United will be whether they can perform in an environment they don’t know, playing players they may not know, while our players will take all of this into the game, knowing that people will underestimate them, if they’ve even heard of it. them, and anything can happen…’

Manchester United could cover all of Lewes’ running costs and staff salaries from their £2m annual wage bill (Pictured: Lewes CEO Maggie Murphy)

Murphy admits that Sunday represents ‘the biggest game in club history’, and he can’t wait to show the world what his club is all about and hopefully pull off an upset.

She continued: ‘It’s our first time in the FA Cup quarter-final. Our players have already made history, so they should go out on Sunday knowing they’ve done the hard part.

‘As long as we go out there and do the best we can, there is always a chance of a result. We know the neutrals will back us up and hopefully players will bring it into the game.”

Murphy’s burning ambition is to take Lewes, one of only four clubs in the top two divisions not linked to an elite men’s club, to the Women’s Super League (WSL).

But he warns that the WSL risks becoming a ‘shadow’ version of the Premier League unless more is done to allow the women’s game to ‘stand on its own two feet’.

Just five years ago, only 50 percent of WSL teams were linked to clubs in the men’s top flight.

But following a push by elite men’s clubs to invest in their women’s teams, that number has now risen to 11 out of 12 in a division headed by the same names that lead the Premier League: Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and United.

United didn’t even have a women’s team until five years ago, but now sit second in the WSL, showing just how much of an impact Premier League clubs investing in their women’s setup can make.

Lewes’ 550-seater ground is small compared to United’s 74,000-seater Old Trafford (pictured: Lewes CEO Maggie Murphy)

Murphy said: ‘The Premier League-isation of the women’s game is underway. That offers more immediate access to resources, which is required to grow the game. But with it comes more interested parties who want a slice.

“I don’t envy teams getting that investment from Premier League clubs, but my fear is that it stifles creativity and stifles the whole football ecosystem.”

“Women’s football is in danger of becoming a second-tier version of the Premier League rather than a top-tier version of itself. He is at a crossroads, but where will he go?

Murphy says one way to prevent women’s clubs from becoming dependent on their men’s counterparts is to ‘reserve’ funding for an extended period rather than tying it to the success or failure of their men’s teams, allowing them to make their own decisions about budgets

“Women’s soccer is a start-up and it needs people who are close to the product and understand it to market it, market it and inspire investment,” he says.

“Funding needs to be done over several years, not a season, to allow women’s football to identify entrepreneurial people to help build clubs.”

Women’s Super League title contenders United have a squad containing several of England’s Lionesses (pictured) who won last summer’s European Championship.

Another way, he suggests, is to make prize money for the FA Cup the same for the women’s game as it is for the men’s game.

The women’s prize money currently sits between 5 and 10 percent of the men’s competition, depending on the round, and Murphy says matching it would help women’s teams raise and spend money as they see fit.

“The FA Cup prize money is better than it was and allows us to cover the costs of organizing matches, but it’s not transformative for women’s clubs of our size as it can be for smaller clubs in the men’s game. ‘says Murphy, who is originally from the Isle of Wight and grew up supporting Spurs.’


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