by Ella Fenwick
Recent success at the Women’s World Cup, made by England’s placing fourth overall, has had an effect on the future of women’s football within the UK.
During the tournament, there was a staggering audience of 11.7 million people watching the intense semi-finals match live against the USA. Despite the loss, with these record-breaking numbers and the Lionesses performance, we are entering a new era of women’s football.
With media coverage and audiences increasing rapidly throughout the Women’s World Cup, it is likely that the Women’s leagues in the UK should follow suit to accommodate to the growth of women’s football, which the Football Association is keen to do.
It has been announced that, in the Women’s Super League; Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, have moved their first fixtures of the season to the bigger and more well-known stadiums of their male counterparts. Using bigger stadiums will help shift perceptions of women’s football and push the regularity of women’s matches to take place there.
Steph Houghton, the captain of the England Women’s Team, and Ellen White, the top scorer for the team, are among seven others in the Manchester City squad. The opening fixture for City, on September 7, has been moved to the Etihad Stadium, with the opportunity to see some of the Lionesses live. City have also created a ticket offer allowing children under 16 to get in for free.
Similarly, Spurs vs Arsenal on November 17 is set to take place in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has a capacity of 62,000.
Chelsea’s opening match against Spurs can be found live on the BBC sports website and app, as well as on the BBC red button. The match is taking place on September 8 at Stamford Bridge, where they are also making entry free for all supporters. This type of exposure of women’s football encourages the British public to become more involved and increase the support towards the domestic women’s game, to follow up from the momentum of the Women’s World Cup.
Additionally, Barclays has disclosed a £10million sponsorship deal with the Women’s Super League, to help with expenses, which will also have a strengthening effect on the future of the women’s league.
The future for women’s football relies on further exposure of the sport in the media – which should develop into larger TV and broadcasting opportunities. In turn, this should lead to more regular coverage of the women’s game alongside the men’s leagues.
In the upcoming years, the Lionesses have some important events in store, not only with their separate domestic leagues but also as an international team to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the Women’s European Championships 2021, which are to be hosted in England.
It will be exciting to see where this new generation of women’s football will take us.