Attendances across the WSL increased considerably in the latest round of fixtures on Women’s Football Weekend, the FA’s annual celebration of the women’s game every November.
The absence of Premier League or Championship football during the men’s international break provides a perfect opportunity to introduce more people to the WSL and Women’s Championship.
That was indeed the case as crowd sizes rose all over the country.
Tottenham recorded their biggest ever attendance at The Hive for the north London derby, welcoming just shy of 2,900 through the turnstiles. Their only bigger attendance this season was 4,681 for their opening game held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while this weekend’s crowd was a 120% increase on their previous home game against Manchester United only a week earlier.
No one who was at The Hive for the derby on Saturday, or indeed anyone who watched it live on BBC One, would have come away disappointed by the spectacle or entertainment value.
That trend wasn’t just limited to the north London derby, though.
The attendance at the Academy Stadium as Manchester City hosted Chelsea was 3,174, around two and a half times the size for City’s last WSL home game. It was also double the attendance for the same fixture when the clubs met at the same venue in the FA Cup only two weeks ago.
Birmingham hosted Aston Villa in the second city derby on Sunday and saw their attendance jump in the space of seven days from 298 last week to 1,386, an increase of around 360%.
For Brighton, 3,566 people were at the Broadfield Stadium to watch the Seagulls beat Leicester, compared to the 1,213 crowd for their previous home game against Tottenham.
West Ham didn’t see as much of an increase but it was still there – up from 1,142 last time they were at home against Birmingham last month to 1,496 against Reading on Sunday.
At the time of writing, Everton were the only WSL club not to have declared their attendance. But the Toffees looked to have a healthy crowd for the visit of Manchester United that would have exceeded the 502 that attended their previous home game.
These spiking figures weren’t limited to the top flight WSL either. In the Women’s Championship, Bristol City hosted Blackburn at Ashton Gate and set a new club attendance record of 3,053, while Durham’s home game against Liverpool set a new record form them in league competition – 1,139.
The FA unveiled its new strategy for the professional women's game last week, which will target average attendances of 6,000 in the WSL by 2024, as well as 1,000 in the Championship and selling out Wembley for FA Cup finals.
Clearly, marketing and exposure works in driving up the numbers, as we have seen over the weekend. There is plenty more work to do to achieve those targets, but it remains abundantly clear that an appetite for the women's game exists if people are exposed to in the right way.
Source : 90min