English kick WSL off with record attendances in the homes of the men’s game

September 9 – The English Women’s Super League enjoyed record attendances during the opening weekend of the new season with the six first fixtures attracting almost 63,000 fans.

The WSL didn’t miss the opportunity of its big kick off. The opening weekend had been timed to coincide with the international men’s break and so escaped the Premier League’s tight grip on the English game. Manchester City and Chelsea switched the venues of their matches away from the women’s teams’ normal homes – the Academy, in Manchester, and Kingsmeadow, in Kingston – to the men’s mainstays; the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge.

On Saturday the Manchester derby broke the league’s attendance record when 31,213 watched City defeat their newly promoted rivals from across town 1-0. In London, Chelsea had distributed 40,000 tickets for free for the season’s curtain raiser against Tottenham. In the end, 24,564 turned up, a record for Chelsea’s women’s team.

“We can be cynical about paying for tickets, but I’m not going to criticise it because we’ve built on the momentum of the World Cup,” said Chelsea manager Emma Hayes.

Defending champions Arsenal opened their new campaign with a 2-1 win against West Ham in front of 1,795 fans in Borehamwood.

The women’s game is seeking to capitalise on the opportunity of a successful World Cup earlier this summer in France where the United States defended its title in a tournament that captured the imagination of the public and enjoyed global media coverage. In November, the England women’s national team will host Germany in a friendly at Wembley.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1708925906labto1708925906ofdlr1708925906owedi1708925906sni@o1708925906fni1708925906