FA lures RFU financial chief to head up women’s football – a year before home Rugby World Cup

Sue Day speaks during the World Rugby Rugby World Cup 2025 Reception at Guildhall
Sue Day's remit at the FA will include leading their charge to try to secure equal access to the sport for women and girls - Tom Dulat/Getty Images

The Rugby Football Union will lose one of its most senior figures less than a year before the Women’s World Cup when Sue Day joins the Football Association.

The RFU’s chief operations officer and chief financial officer has been appointed as the FA’s next director of women’s football and will replace Baroness Sue Campbell in December.

Day, who has been on the RFU’s board since April 2018, was central to England winning the bid to host next year’s World Cup but will leave the governing body eight months before the tournament kicks off.

Baroness Campbell has been with the FA since 2016 and has played a major role in the women’s game’s rapid rise in the modern era, but is retiring by the end of this year. Her retirement comes as the running of the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship moves over to a new entity (NewCo) from this summer.

NewCo chief executive Nikki Doucet will head up the top two women’s football leagues in England, while Day’s remit at the FA will include leading their charge to try to secure equal access to the sport for women and girls. An FA statement said Day “will also be responsible for the strategic leadership to develop, improve and raise awareness of disability football in England”. She will represent the FA on the NewCo’s board too.

Former England rugby captain Day, who temporarily took over the running of the RFU in 2022 after chief executive Bill Sweeney suffered a pulmonary embolism, is also a founding trustee of the Women’s Sports Trust. Four years ago, she was awarded an MBE for services to gender equality in sport. In the RFU’s most recent set of financial accounts, Day’s annual salary was £509,000.

“It is an honour to be able to join The FA in this incredibly exciting role, at a pivotal moment in the history of the sport,” Day said. “Women’s football has the opportunity to change the sporting and societal landscape forever, and I am very excited to be part of that. The challenge to develop disability football from the grassroots to the elite is also deeply motivating.

“I grew up playing football every day in the school playground, then one day I was told I wasn’t allowed to play with boys on the school team. I am passionate about making sure that future generations have the equal opportunities that weren’t afforded to so many girls like me. I would like to also pay tribute to Baroness Sue Campbell. Sue is a legend of sport. Football, and the whole of English sport, has a great deal to thank her for.”

Rugby’s loss is football’s gain

What a stunning coup for the FA. Sue Day, one of the most influential women at the Rugby Football Union over the past decade, is something of a trailblazer when it comes to sports administration. Ever since becoming the RFU’s first female chief financial officer in 2017, the chartered accountant has taken on an all-encompassing role at the top of the organisation.

The 51-year-old even took over the running of the union’s day-to-day activities when Bill Sweeney, the RFU chief executive, unexpectedly fell ill with a pulmonary embolism in 2022. By that time, Day was already holding down the dual role of chief operations officer and chief financial officer.

While the former England captain’s remit has largely involved overseeing the union’s financial strategy, she has also played a key role in the growth of the women’s game, notably helping to spearhead plans for the English top flight, Premiership Women’s Rugby, to turn professional within the next decade. In that sense, her move to take up a female-centric role at the FA feels like a natural fit.

Her departure from rugby will, inevitably, raise eyebrows. Day was a major part of the RFU’s successful bid to host next year’s Women’s World Cup. That she is leaving the organisation before what is being billed as a seismic moment for women’s sport – and women’s rugby – in this country will feel like a significant blow. After eight years, she clearly harbours new ambitions in a sport that is much further down the track when it comes to profile and professionalism.