WSL plots double-header fixtures alongside Premier League games

8 July 2019 | Clubs & Rightsholders
WSL plots double-header fixtures alongside Premier League games
Selected games for next season’s Women’s Super League (WSL), English women’s soccer’s top-flight, could be played as double-header fixtures alongside Premier League matches, according to Kelly Simmons, the Football Association’s (FA) Women’s Director.

With the interest sparked by the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which culminated with 11.7 million watching England's semi-final loss to the US, Simmons is keen to build on that momentum by tapping into the popularity of the men’s top division by aligning certain WSL fixtures.

Asked by BBC Radio 5 Live if double-headers were a possibility, Simmons said: “That will be tried as well. We know that there is a massive potential audience of fans coming across from the men's game and the men's clubs across to their women's team, we are seeing very much a one-club ethos.”

Simmons also confirmed previous reports that the league was also looking to hold multiple matches at Premier League stadiums on the season’s opening weekend event.

“We have already announced the fixtures for the first game and you will see coming out of that there will be a series of games in men's stadiums as part of trying to build an audience,” she added.

“There is a massive chance for the game to pull those across this season with the Women's Super League and get more people coming to games.”

The full WSL fixture list will be announced on 10th July but the opening round has already been confirmed, offering up a number of high-profile clashes including Manchester City vs Manchester United, with the Etihad stadium mooted as the venue for the derby clash.

"It is up to Manchester City to announce where they decide to put that game but there will be a series of fixtures in men's stadiums and that is going to be fantastic for the women's game,” Simmons added.

The season-opener will also be shown on television, with the broadcaster set to be confirmed later on 8th July.

The 2018/19 season saw average WSL attendances fall below 1,000 and Simmons hopes the FA’s plans will see fans engage more regularly with the women’s game, with the Lionesses success at the World Cup serving as the catalyst.

“We have just finished the first year of fully-professional women's football with the Women's Super League so our job now is to make sure we capitalise on the momentum from the Women's World Cup and build attendances and build audiences,” she said.

“One of the things the World Cup has done is make our players household names and now people can follow them back at their clubs which is really important for the game.

“The fact that the semi-final had the biggest TV audience of the year of anything shows there is a real interest and we have got to make sure we move that across to the Women's Super League and people watch every week.”

The 2019/20 WSL season kicks off on 7th September.

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