FOOTBALL Sports News

Women’s Football Weekend: With attendance records broken and participation rising, how is game growing to next level?

 More than 70,000 tickets were sold for this year’s Women’s Football Weekend, breaking two attendance records in the process. This coming just a week after England Women’s team broke the record for their highest home attendance at Wembley Stadium, with over 77,000 turning up to support the Lionesses against Germany.

A record number of 38,262 fans attended The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday afternoon for the north London derby. Arsenal beat Spurs 2-0 in the clash, with both sets of goals coming in the final 25 minutes through Kim Little and Vivianne Miedema.

Tottenham’s co-head coach Karen Hill believes this weekend has been ‘absolutely momentous’ for women’s football.

“This is progression for Women’s football. To bring the team here and see the support, we should all be proud. This shouldn’t be a moment though; this should be the norm in women’s football.”

Anfield hosted its first-ever WSL match, welcoming 23,500 fans for the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton. The Toffies beat the Red’s 1-0 but Liverpool manager Vicky Jepson was quick to point out that there was more to the occasion than the result, as she described the game as a ‘big celebration.’

Coming out the shadows

After being pretty much invisible, woman’s football has been a work in progress throughout the last 5 years. With the national side reaching a trio of tournament semi-finals in the World Cup and Euros, it’s been a base for the woman’s game to grow. The Lionesses are now a major brand with an ever growing fan base around the country. Their players are quickly becoming well-known and followed through their domestic teams, which is having an impact on the popularity of the WSL.

This year BT Sport agreed a deal with retail company Greene King, which means woman’s football will be shown in 750 different pubs around the country. This will help to expand their games to a wider audience and bring in more money from advertisements and sponsorship’s.

Former WSL player and current Chelsea marketing assistant Claire Rafferty said: “It’s a massive deal for clubs, more than people realise. The men’s game is about figures, exposure and the media value, but things like woman’s football in pubs can help change that.”

Attracting high crowds consistently is the main key keeping up the rise in women’s football. The success of attendance levels at recent games needs to be stepping stone for things to come.

More to follow on this story throughout the day on Park Life Sport.

How to keep it up

Most WSL games have an average of 2,000 fans a game, with games being played on men’s teams academy pitches. One issue that is a clear barrier is the lack of resources within the women’s game. A clear indicator from the WFW was that the fans enjoyed visiting the professional stadiums, turning out in their thousands to watch their side, just like for the men’s sides.

Being given the opportunity to play consistently at their club’s main ground, without it effecting the men’s game could be considered, allowing it to become a normality for the women’s game to be as successful as its potential says it can be.


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