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Lewes FC - the equality champions


Lots of football clubs regard themselves as special, not least the “more than a club” claimants. Usually such a bombastic assertion doesn’t withstand much scrutiny.

There’s nothing pompous about the town of Lewes. It may have been the scene of a battle some 850 years ago but these days it’s the county town of East Sussex in south-east England. Essentially, it’s a typically pleasant market town. It’s certainly not a place to be associated with a ground-breaking approach to running a football club.

Lewes FC, a 100% fan-owned not-for-profit Community Benefit Society, believes that there is quite a lot wrong with football and thus the club’s ethos is a simple one: do football better. Specifically, the Rooks’ owners want to reduce football’s inequality, its poor governance and what the club calls “the obscene mis-distribution of resources”. It's quite an agenda, one which has to be accommodated in addition to the standard desire to produce a team which plays entertaining football, wins trophies and brings enjoyment to the club’s fans.

“More than a club” should of course be more than a marketing slogan and since 2017 Lewes FC have genuinely qualified for such a description after they became the first gender-equal club in the world. In practice, Lewes equalised the playing budgets and balanced the resources allocated to their men’s and women’s teams. Despite the doubters, gender equality history was made at their brilliantly named town centre ground, The Dripping Pan, recently voted the Number 1 football ground to visit in ‘British Football’s Greatest Grounds’. The self-dubbed “Equality FC” was born.


Apart from the feeling of doing something which has, and will continue to make a difference, Lewes Football Club have seen an increase in attendances and the number of fan owners, sponsorships have surged, and media coverage has rocketed. It is worth noting that Lewes FC men’s team play in the Isthmian League Premier Division, Level 7-8 in English football’s pyramid - “a pretty small club” as they were described in 2021 by a BBC reporter. Small maybe, but as at August 2022, the club had over 2,300 owners in at least thirty-seven countries world-wide. To put this figure in perspective, Clyde FC currently have around 370 owners.


As evidence that Lewes FC are on the right lines, the club has won several accolades, including the United Nations’ prestigious ‘He For She’ Award. The Sussex-based “Equality FC” has also acquired some famous owners include tennis coach Judy Murray, former Chelsea FC medic Dr. Eva Carneiro, cricket legend Jonty Rhodes, rugby star Ugo Monye, and Welsh singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews.


“People-powered” Lewes Football Club remain the on-field competitors they have always been, but off the park the Rooks are keen to be patient collaborators. Even after their equality breakthrough in 2017, the Sussex innovators accept that change is often uncomfortable and sometimes it doesn't feel like it's possible, but they believe that clubs should learn from each other and see what works for fans and what doesn’t.


Each year Lewes FC publish their strategy and put it on their website. Football club directors with an evident sense of direction – rarer than you might think!

A quote from “Lucy” to finish: “I am a Lewis FC owner because the club is disrupting football and demonstrating how the sport should be, everywhere. The model of the club is authentic, ethical and inclusive. A club of tomorrow, today!”






Lots of football clubs regard themselves as special, not least the “more than a club” claimants. Usually such a bombastic assertion doesn’t withstand much scrutiny.

There’s nothing pompous about the town of Lewes. It may have been the scene of a battle some 850 years ago but these days it’s the county town of East Sussex in south-east England. Essentially, it’s a typically pleasant market town. It’s certainly not a place to be associated with a ground-breaking approach to running a football club.

Lewes FC, a 100% fan-owned not-for-profit Community Benefit Society, believes that there is quite a lot wrong with football and thus the club’s ethos is a simple one: do football better. Specifically, the Rooks’ owners want to reduce football’s inequality, its poor governance and what the club calls “the obscene mis-distribution of resources”. It's quite an agenda, one which has to be accommodated in addition to the standard desire to produce a team which plays entertaining football, wins trophies and brings enjoyment to the club’s fans.

“More than a club” should of course be more than a marketing slogan and since 2017 Lewes FC have genuinely qualified for such a description after they became the first gender-equal club in the world. In practice, Lewes equalised the playing budgets and balanced the resources allocated to their men’s and women’s teams. Despite the doubters, gender equality history was made at their brilliantly named town centre ground, The Dripping Pan, recently voted the Number 1 football ground to visit in ‘British Football’s Greatest Grounds’. The self-dubbed “Equality FC” was born. Apart from the feeling of doing something which has, and will continue to make a difference, Lewes Football Club have seen an increase in attendances and the number of fan owners, sponsorships have surged, and media coverage has rocketed. It is worth noting that Lewes FC men’s team play in the Isthmian League Premier Division, Level 7-8 in English football’s pyramid - “a pretty small club” as they were described in 2021 by a BBC reporter. Small maybe, but as at August 2022, the club had over 2,300 owners in at least thirty-seven countries world-wide. To put this figure in perspective, Clyde FC currently have around 370 owners. As evidence that Lewes FC are on the right lines, the club has won several accolades, including the United Nations’ prestigious ‘He For She’ Award. The Sussex-based “Equality FC” has also acquired some famous owners include tennis coach Judy Murray, former Chelsea FC medic Dr. Eva Carneiro, cricket legend Jonty Rhodes, rugby star Ugo Monye, and Welsh singer and broadcaster Cerys Matthews. “People-powered” Lewes Football Club remain the on-field competitors they have always been, but off the park the Rooks are keen to be patient collaborators. Even after their equality breakthrough in 2017, the Susses innovators accept that change is often uncomfortable and sometimes it doesn't feel like it's possible, but they believe that clubs should learn from each other and see what works for fans and what doesn’t. Each year Lewes FC publish their strategy and put it on their website. Football club directors with an evident sense of direction – rarer than you might think!

A quote from “Lucy” to finish: “I am a Lewis FC owner because the club is disrupting football and demonstrating how the sport should be, everywhere. The model of the club is authentic, ethical and inclusive. A club of tomorrow, today!”

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