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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 June, 2005, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Strike a pose

By Mark Ashenden

England's Rachel Unitt

Another female football tournament draws to a close. Usual protocol is to comment politely on how well they've played, say how bright the future of the game is.

And just as quickly stop talking about the women's game.

Fifa and Uefa bosses might seem obsessed with kit tightness, but there are strong grounds for optimism.

With high-flying performances on and off the pitch, with record-breaking crowds, good TV figures, and an array of football talent, how can the ladies game capitalise on this Euro 2005 euphoria?

Football agent Rachel Anderson believes "aggressive and positive marketing" would bring more money into the game allowing more women to play professionally.

Is this using their looks as well as football skill? "Absolutely" is her response. "Unless they are the best at kicking a ball you'll be hard pushed to get the sponsorship.

"David Beckham and David Ginola are both attractive and will earn more than somebody with a good left foot but doesn't turn heads. It sounds terrible but it's fact.

ENGLAND'S EURO 2005 ATTENDANCES
England 3-2 Finland:
29,092 (City of Manchester Stadium)
England 1-2 Denmark:
14, 695 (Ewood Park)
England 0-1 Sweden:
25,694 (Ewood Park)
Combined total: 69,481
Average attendance: 23,160

"But you can also be attractive by being fit. The fitness gives you an aura. Many players don't want to be on a magazine but it can extend your working life by 25%.

"And with financial freedom comes freedom to improve your game. You can't expect them to play their best if they have another job."

Money is creeping into the game though. TV deals and a variety of sponsorship are in place.

Nationwide is one of the biggest donors and renewed its multi-million pound deal in 2002.

"We have seen this summer the technical ability of female footballers is very high," Nationwide's Chris Hull told BBC Sport. "The audiences have shown there is an audience and a demand for it.

England take on the Swedes
Could England be world-beaters soon?

Sustainability is key, with Fulham's exodus from the world of professionalism in 2003 still fresh in the mind.

"What happened with Fulham was it produced an imbalance in the league," an FA spokesman said.

"However, last season was probably the most competitive and exciting league since the competition started. Five or six teams battled it out and that's good for the future of the game."

If the quiet revolution at Stamford Bridge is anything to go by, Chelsea Women might just provide a glimpse of the future.

And Jose Mourinho has nothing to do with it.

They've just been promoted to the Premier league and Shaun Gore - director of their women's team - gave an insight to his five-year plan.

"We've done our research and with support from the club, the stepping stones are in place to turn us round into competing with the top teams," Gore told BBC Sport.

"Our main objective is that whoever wears the Chelsea shirt - man or woman - has the tools to develop as individuals and become the best they physically can."

Gore wants the momentum built up over Euro 2005 to continue.

"The profile has been very good but take the championships away and then see how many people are interested in the game," he added.

Any woman that shines in this country are blooming good
Rachel Anderson on British players

"The marketing strategy could be worked on or it could even need to take another direction."

Which leads us back to the female players themselves.

More are playing, there are more women's clubs and the standard on the pitch is improving, as seen on the Euro 2005 stage.

"They will have to work very hard - much harder than guys do. It needs shrewd marketing but the type of girl appears to be more worldly," said Rachel Anderson.

"They know what makes the world go round. They've just got to work to get that appearance money and sponsorship."

And would she consider representing an England player if they phoned her?

Anderson responded with a huge "yes" without hesitation. "I would have loved to a few years ago but there were too many barriers from the players themselves. But this is changing."




SEE ALSO
FA takes long view
14 Jun 05 |  Women's Euro 2005
FA hails Euro 2005 as big success
13 Jun 05 |  Women's Euro 2005


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