WSL visits increased during the weekend for women’s football

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Visitors to the WSL increased significantly during the most recent round of matches at Women’s Football Weekend, the FA’s annual celebration of the women’s match 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 really the case when the population increased all over the country.

Tottenham recorded their biggest turnout ever at The Hive for the North London derby, welcoming just 2,900 through the turnstiles. Their only major crowd this season was 4,681 for their opening match held at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, while this weekend’s crowd increased by 120% compared to their previous home game against Manchester United just a week earlier.

Tottenham had record crowds for one of their matches at The Hive / Justin Setterfield / GettyImages

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14 November 2021

No one who was at The Hive for the derby last Saturday, or indeed anyone who watched it live on BBC One, would have come from there disappointed with the spectacle or entertainment value.

However, that trend was not limited to the North London exchange.

The attendance at Academy Stadium when Manchester City hosted Chelsea was 3,174, about two and a half times as big as City’s last home game in the WSL. There were also twice as many visitors for the same match when the clubs met in the same place in the FA Cup just two weeks ago.

Birmingham hosted Aston Villa in the second city derby on Sunday and saw their attendance jump over the course of seven days from 298 last week to 1,386, an increase of about 360%.

For Brighton, 3,566 people were at Broadfield Stadium to watch the Seagulls beat Leicester, compared to 1,213 spectators for their previous home game against Tottenham.

A brilliant final that got even better with 3,566 cheering on the team! ? @SymondsMaisie showed her thanks for her winning goal? pic.twitter.com/79WDrY0Tst

– Brighton & Hove Albion Women (@BHAFCWomen) November 15, 2021

West Ham did not see 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 presence. But Toffees looked to have a healthy crowd for the visit of Manchester United who would have surpassed the 502 who took part in their previous home game.

These top numbers were also not limited to top class WSL. In the Ladies’ Championship, Bristol City hosted Blackburn at Ashton Gate and set a new club applicant record of 3,053, while Durham’s home game against Liverpool set a new record for them in the league – 1,139.

Today’s official presence: 3️⃣0️⃣5️⃣3️⃣

Thanks to everyone for their phenomenal support – a little atmosphere on @ashtongatestad today?

New club record in attendance? pic.twitter.com/zjdJZ3VVYY

– Bristol City WFC (@bristolcitywfc) November 14, 2021

The FA unveiled its new strategy for the professional women’s game last week, which will focus on an average number of visitors of 6,000 in the WSL by 2024, as well as 1,000 in the championship and to sell out Wembley for the FA Cup finals.

It is clear that marketing and exposure are driving up the numbers, as we have seen over the weekend. There is much more to be done to achieve these goals, but it is still quite clear that there is an appetite for women’s play if people are exposed to it in the right way.

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