WSL: Record ticket sales as 2022-23 season prepares to begin


Chelsea clinched the 2021-22 title on the final day with a 2-0 win over Manchester United.

Clubs are enjoying record ticket sales as the Women’s Super League kicks off this weekend and capitalize on England’s memorable summer success at the European Championships.

Ten of the 12 teams will play some matches in the big main stadiums used by men.

Arsenal are set to break the WSL attendance record after selling 40,000 tickets for their North London derby with Tottenham later this month.

Manchester City will host a sell-out crowd for their opening game against the Gunners on Sunday, while Brighton will be hoping for a record win against Aston Villa.

Meanwhile, Reading have five times the number of season tickets compared to last year after increased interest in the Lions after winning Euro 2022.

And champions Chelsea have sold 1,500 season tickets for the second consecutive season.

Arsenal have sold more tickets for their game against Spurs at the Emirates Stadium on September 24 than their four games there last season.

The current league record was set in the reverse fixture at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2019, with a crowd of 38,262.

“That Euro fever is still alive and well and I hope it’s not just about the summer,” said England captain and Arsenal defender Leah Williamson.

“It’s up to us within the game and it’s up to those who are working on it to make it visible.”

Admission to WSL matches is a fraction of the cost of Premier League matches, with season tickets costing around £45 to £80.

They have usually been played on smaller pitches, and in some cases several kilometers from the main stadiums where men’s football is played.

However, the FA’s director of women’s football, Kelly Simmons, told BBC Sport that the sport was “working really hard” to “increase the biggest games” by increasing the number of games played in “men’s” stadiums.

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Opening of the weekend conferences

Saturday (All times BST)

Spurs vs Man Utd 12.30pm – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Sunday

Chelsea – West Ham 12:30 – Stamford Bridge

Everton v Leicester 1pm – Walton Hall Park

Brighton v Villa 2pm – Amex Stadium

Reading v Liverpool 14:00 – Select Leasing Stadium

Man City v Arsenal 19:00 – Academy Stadium

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“This year’s peaks will be even bigger”

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes, who marks a decade in charge of her club this season, said: “Women’s domestic football still has a way to go. It’s only been in the last 12 months that we’ve been able to schedule games consistently, and we’ve also broadcast some slots with consistency.

“Yeah, selling out opening day weekend would be great if that’s the case. But to me, how many fans are we catching coming back?

“I think it’s going to have peaks and troughs throughout this year, but I think the highs are going to be bigger than last year and the lows are still going to be bigger than last year’s lows. And the average attendance throughout the game is going to be dramatically different.”

Asked what the WSL needs to grow further, Hayes told BBC Radio One’s Newsbeat: “I think people need to realize that – apart from the top two or three clubs – there are still a lot of under-resourced clubs that need the expertise to maximize growth at the same level. or resource levels.

“There needs to be a lot more investment in their infrastructure to compete equally on and off the pitch, and to level up across the board, which will take time.

“I’ve always been an advocate of leaving the FA and a separate entity, because I think we could take the experience from somewhere like the Premier League to help clubs build their models. It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Emily Oram, 43, has supported Arsenal’s men’s team for several years, but has become more of a fan of the women’s team in recent seasons. This season, for the first time, he bought a season ticket for the women’s team.

He told BBC Sport: “I went to a couple of games last season and it was great fun. The crowds were great. I’ve always been scared to go to the men’s games at the Emirates so I got interested and then for the opening game and As I was lucky enough to get tickets to the Euro final, that’s what really pushed me to get the season ticket for the WSL.

“The attraction was the crowd, the enthusiasm of the crowd and the diversity of the crowd was also a big factor. It can often feel like you’re not necessarily welcome within the men’s game, but within the women’s game, there seems to be no limit to who can go to the games and enjoy them and be welcomed.

“And also the quality of the game is fantastic. The Euro final was one of the best football matches I’ve ever been to, period.”

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Club by club guide

ARSENAL

Usual home field: Meadow Park, Borehamwood. Three WSL games at Emirates Stadium.

Ticket sales have increased from 750 to 1,500 this season.

More than 2,500 spectators are expected for the opening game against Brighton at Meadow Park on September 16, compared to 2,045 for the first game there a year ago.

ASTON VILLA

Typical house: Poundland Bescot Stadium (Walsall FC). Three games at Villa Park.

Season ticket sales have more than doubled compared to the last campaign.

Around 5,000 tickets have been sold for the first leg at Villa Park against Manchester City on 18 September. Last season’s home game was at Walsall, with 741 in attendance.

BRIGHTON

Typical house: Broadfield Stadium (Crawley Town FC). First two home games at Amex Stadium.

With more than 4,000 tickets bought for the home opener, it has surpassed sales for both games played there last season.

The women’s record is 5,265 against Arsenal in April 2019 and that could well be beaten for Sunday’s game against Aston Villa.

CHELSEA

Typical house: Kingsmeadow, Kingston upon Thames. The opening game at Stamford Bridge.

Champions Chelsea’s match against London rivals West Ham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday will be broadcast live on BBC One.

The club does not release ticket sales figures for the matches, but all 1,500 season tickets have sold out for the second year running and were snapped up five weeks before the start of the season.

EVERTON

Typical house: Walton Hall Park, Liverpool.

Everton have sold more than double the number of tickets for Sunday’s game with Leicester than last season’s first game against Birmingham at Walton Hall Park.

The game will sell out in the 2,134-seat venue. The previous season’s best attendance was 840 against Manchester United.

Everton’s women have played at Goodison Park in the past and may return in the future. Just last month, an open training session attracted 1,000 spectators.

LIVERPOOL

Typical house: Prenton Park (Tranmere Rovers FC). Face Everton at Anfield this month.

Everton’s Merseyside derby on September 25 will be Liverpool’s first women’s game at Anfield since November 2019 when 23,500 attended.

THE CITY OF LEICESTER

Typical house: King Power Stadium (Leicester City FC).

Leicester, who once again plan to play their home games on a men’s pitch, say season ticket sales have more than doubled.

Burton Albion’s Pirelli Stadium will be used as an alternative venue in the event of clashing matches.

CITY OF MANCHESTER

Typical house: Academy Stadium, Manchester; Etihad v Man Utd game in December.

Sunday’s match against Arsenal has sold out at the 7,000-capacity Academy Stadium, beating the previous record of 5,317 against Man Utd in February.

The crowd for the corresponding match against Arsenal last year was 2,355 and less than half that number for the opening game against Tottenham.

Around 20,000 tickets have already been sold for the game against Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in December and the team has enjoyed record season ticket sales – double that of last year.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Typical house: Leigh Sports Village. Playing Aston Villa at Old Trafford in December.

Manchester United usually play their home games at Leigh Sports Village, starting with their match against Reading on 17 September.

Last season’s WSL record attendance of 20,241 saw Everton play at Old Trafford, where they return to face Aston Villa on December 4.

READING

Typical house: Select Car Leasing Stadium (Reading FC).

The club has more than 500 season ticket holders this season, compared to 98 at the start of last campaign.

They also look set to break the women’s attendance record of more than 2,200 fans for Sunday’s game at Liverpool, with 1,000 more tickets sold than for the home opener against Arsenal 12 months ago.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Typical house: Breyer Group Stadium (Leyton Orient FC). Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Man Utd on Sunday.

Tottenham Women have moved from Barnet FC’s Hive Stadium to Leyton Orient’s pitch.

They plan to play at the main Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when the schedule allows, where they open the WSL season against Manchester United on Saturday.

“The stadiums we play in outside the Euros should be more common,” said coach Rehanne Skinner.

“It’s just part of the conversation that we have the opportunity to be in and around the fan base. Bigger stadiums attract fans in a different way.”

WEST HAM

Typical house: Chigwell Construction Stadium (Dagenham and Redbridge FC).

Paul Konchesky’s first game in charge sees West Ham travel to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Sunday.

The Hammers play at Dagenham and Redbridge, where Everton will be their first visitors of the new season on September 18.

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