The Women’s Super League is set to embark on a massive, league-defining day on Sunday, 17 November. The WSL will see three matches take place at Premier League stadiums as they attempt to keep the momentum of last summer’s Women’s World Cup going.
Liverpool Women and Everton Women (a match I, myself, will attend) are set for a 3 p.m. kickoff at Anfield making it the first-ever women’s Merseyside Derby to be played at the stadium. Meanwhile, Tottenham Hotspur Women and Arsenal Women will clash in a North London Derby at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (a game that will air on BT Sport). Also, Brighton will host Birmingham City at the Amex Stadium.
Outside of the Premier League stadium spotlight, Reading Women will play Bristol City Women at the Madjeski Stadium rounding out the games being played at major venues around England this weekend by WSL teams.
Women’s Soccer League attendance growth
This season’s WSL has seen a marked improvement in the average attendance at matches across the women’s top flight. The 2018-19 campaign saw 899 fans a game across the league but with the help of the Women’s World Cup in June and July, this season has seen an average attendance of 4,112.
The average number of fans has not only been helped by the Women’s World Cup 2019 but by matches played at major venues already. Manchester City and Manchester United kicked off the 2019-20 WSL season at the Etihad Stadium with over 31,000 fans turning out.
Chelsea Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women also saw a large crowd turn out for their match at Stamford Bridge with more than 24,000 fans attending.
Women’s football is at an all-time high in England. Its growth was proven again by the England women’s national team outdrawing their male counterparts at Wembley this month. The women’s team’s 2-1 loss to Germany saw 77,768 fan, while the men’s team drew 77,277 fans to their Euro 2020 qualifier over Montenegro.
Liverpool Women pushing for Women’s Super League success
Liverpool Women are in the WSL’s relegation position (just one team is relegated from the 12-team league) with one point from 15 possible. However, the club is expecting a huge day at Anfield, although the weather could play a big factor in fan attendance. Temperatures of 7-degrees Celsius and rain are expected at kickoff.
Still, around 20,000 fans are hoped for on matchday. According to the BBC, Liverpool are preparing for the WSL Merseyside Derby as if it were a men’s match. The club will have a large number of stewards and staff on hand as many supporters may be attending their first-ever game at Anfield.
I will be attending the fixture with my six-year-old Liverpool-mad son in tow. With Liverpool men’s team chasing a league title and ticket prices sky-high and hard to come by, it is matches like the women and legends that make it possible for parents to take their children out to games.
Liverpool offered tickets to Sunday’s Merseyside Derby for just £5 with juniors gaining free entrance with a paying adult. It is a great way to bring out fans to experience the football club and see women’s football possibly for the first time.
The WSL’s Liverpool and Everton attracted the lowest numbers of fans per home game in the league. It is easy to understand why Liverpool Women draw such low numbers as they play matches at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park. Getting to the stadium is a burden for fans with links to public transit poor.
Consider the average attendance of Manchester City in 2018-19 (over 1,400) and the transport links in the city courtesy of trams and buses, and it is easy to see just why the Cityzens women’s team is so well supported.
So, will it be a super Sunday for the Women’s Super League? It very well could be and another defining moment for women’s football in England. Taking advantage of the men’s international break and major stadiums could be the biggest thing to happen to the game. However, sustainability is key and adding more fixtures at the men’s stadiums (perhaps all and getting even more use out of them) could be the main item to grow the game.