Clare Balding knows there's more work to be done
Clare Balding knows there's more work to be done

Clare Balding believes women have made a belated breakthrough in sports broadcasting, but insists there is 'a long way to go' before female pundits are accepted by some viewers on major events.

Former Arsenal and England international Alex Scott has become a regular analyst on major soccer matches for Sky Sports and the BBC this season, while the regular presence of female pundits on BT Sport and all major radio networks has offered a noticeable change to the tone of coverage in the last year.

Yet in an exclusive interview with Female First, Balding suggests women athletes are still striving to achieve parity with their male counterparts; and she suggested 2019 could be a vital year for the development of female sport.

"It has taken a long time to reach a point where we feel we have had a breakthrough in terms of having women working in sports broadcasting and people feeling comfortable with it," BT Sport presenter Balding told us.

"If you were to rank the women that are working as analysts on the top football matches now, I bet they would come out near the top of all lists. They are good broadcasters and it is great to see them getting their chances.

"We are still a long way from getting parity for women's sport across all media, but this is a massive year for women's sport and we have to try and make the most of the wonderful events we have on the horizon in 2019."

Balding's comments add to the debate over female pundits on Premier League football, with former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis sparking heated online exchanges over the presence of women pundits analysing top tier men's matches in her appearance as a BT Sport pundit last Saturday (February 9, 2019).

"We have played at the elite level and we do know our trade inside out. That is not women's football, it's football," stated Brown-Finnis.

"I have played for England, been to World Cups and been to European Championships, played at the Olympics, played at the elite level. We have not played men's football because we are not men so take that debate away because it is ridiculous.

"In any job, if people are not good enough, don't put them on there. If they are good enough, give them the opportunity to be on there. Once you get that opportunity, you have to take it, whether you are a man or a woman."

When asked whether she would be disappointed to have been employed as a BT Sport pundit because she was a woman, she replied: "Absolutely, I would hate that. First and foremost, you have to be the best person for the job.

"I think it is great to switch on a sports channel and watch endless amounts of women's sports. The long generational issue is people have pre-conceptions of football. They have watch football for decades with guys talking about it. There is a change to that and suddenly their default reaction to that could be, that's not right."

BT Sport host Jake Humphrey later tweeted comments to his studio debate with Brown-Finnis, Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves, with social media providing a platform for the negativity to be highlighted.

BT Sport is the home of women’s tennis, bringing you action from across the world on the WTA Tour and Fed Cup. For more information visit

MORE: Clare Balding on why she expects women to have a fantastic year in sport

MORE: Jeremy Bates thinks the Fed Cup could inspire the rise of British women's tennis

Words by Kevin Palmer, who you can follow on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer.

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