As football fans we know the big events are the culmination of years of preparation, but also that it is through everyday life that the game develops. Attending your club’s league and cup games, watching them on TV and engaging in their social media channels means they can continue to push upwards and strike new commercial partnerships.
And now it’s time to put it to a test. After a summer to remember until the end of our days with a hugely successful Euros taking place in England, we kickstart a new Women’s Super League season feeling all optimistic and re-energised. How will the “new” women’s football fans respond? Will they turn up to support their club?
The signs are promising. Arsenal have already sold more than 40,000 tickets for the first north London derby of the season against Tottenham, which will be held at the Emirates on 24 September. The tickets sold already surpasses the record attendance of the a WSL game (38,262), a reflection of the European Championship and the Lionesses’ success.
“I think we’ve seen over the summer just how powerful that connection can be when you have big crowds and that feeling of engagement around matches,” says Clare Wheatley, the former player who is now head of women’s football at Arsenal. “There’s always been great support for our women’s team from our supporters and we know this season will be no different.”
For the 2022-23 campaign we will be able to see first-hand how the European title has affected women’s football in England and around the UK. Hopefully we will see record attendances, increasing revenue for clubs and more interest not only in the UK, but around the world. Now is the time to pick up the slack. This will increase girls’ participation in the sport and help more women to feel the joy of playing.
However, it is not about just the big, flashy games – the ones with a lot of marketing, held at big stadiums, against your long-time rivals. It is also about buying season tickets, watching games on TV and debating the game online. It’s about being there for your club. Us fans, the clubs and the FA have the responsibility to take this momentum and push the women’s game forward.
“With that added interest comes added responsibility for us working within the game – both at club level and across broadcasters and the institutions – and we must seize this opportunity,” Wheatley says.
The demand for women’s football is rising. Arsenal have already made the commitment to host six games this season at Emirates. Chelsea will start their title defence against West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Spurs’ fans will be able to watch their opening match against Manchester United at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium while Brighton face Aston Villa at the Amex Stadium.
There are still tickets available for Everton v Leicester and Reading v Liverpool but the eagerly awaited game between Manchester City v Arsenal on Sunday night has sold out.
You can buy tickets for the first round of the WSL here, and tickets for Arsenal v Tottenham are available here.
The road to Australia and New Zealand The European qualifiers for next year’s World Cup has finished with Wales taking one of the playoff spots after a 0-0 draw against Slovenia in front of another record crowd. They are joined there by Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Switzerland.
Primera Iberdrola Fans around the world will be able to watch the top tier of women’s football in Spain for the next five seasons exclusively on DAZN after a global €35m (£30m) agreement was announced on Sunday. It promises even more visibility for the league.
Quote of the week
“Over the last few years, the game has grown significantly and at a rapid pace. Of course, this is an exciting time, but there is an urgent need to ensure there are processes and structures in place that protect the interest of the game and the people working in it” – Karen Carney on an in-depth review of the women’s game launched by the government.