The Continental Cup is something that has been a part of the women’s game in the UK since 2011 but is it time to give it up?
The Continental Cup involves 23 WSL and WSL 2 clubs with a minimum of four group games being played. However, managers such as Chelsea coach Emma Hayes thinks it is time that the women’s game moves on from these type of competitions.
Ahead of their cup clash with Crystal Palace Women Hayes said “Get rid of the Continental Cup, get rid of it, make more league fixtures. Sell the women’s super league; why are we diluting our product?”
These comments were made before Chelsea faced three away fixtures – two in the cup and one to West Ham in the league which they all won. It then leads to the upcoming international break with England facing Germany this coming Saturday at Wembley meaning that the team would have gone four weeks without playing in front of their home fans.
Liverpool Women faced Aston Villa women in the latest round of the competition and the championship side came out on top beating them 2-1, which has definitely put their team in good spirits as well as giving the club better exposure in the women’s game too.
It wasn’t just Hayes who voiced her opinion on the competition, however, as Manchester United Women’s manager Casey Stoney revealed that she rejected an opportunity for their clash with rivals Manchester City to be played at Old Trafford as she felt it would not help grow United’s fan base saying: “You can’t get any continuity in terms of growing your crowd. We’re lucky we’re at home and we’ve got a derby, so I’m not complaining but I can see when you’re trying to grow momentum it’s difficult.”
What are the positives?
Hayes calls for more league matches to be scheduled instead of teams competing in the Conti Cup but in order for the women’s game to grow, as many fixtures in as many different competitions with as many different teams need to happen. It may be seen as a bit of a chore for top tier Women’s footballers to play these games but those part-time teams in the championship will relish any opportunity to face the top sides, just like Villa did against Liverpool and just as Lewes did against Chelsea.
It is more trophies to be won too – every team wants to win trophies and in order to do that, competitions like the continental cup have to take place so players and managers should relish the opportunity to win more silverware and make their club a success.
What are the negatives?
Emma Hayes is right in what she is saying though, -it doesn’t make sense for the games to be played the way they are and the number of times they do. Having a group stage for a competition like this does not make sense and if you’re trying to do it similar to the Carabao Cup in the men’s game then make it where you draw two teams together and have a one-off match to decide who goes through to the next round.
The biggest issue Hayes had was that Chelsea missed out on playing at home for nearly five weeks and that doesn’t help grow their game. These cup games are not broadcast on live television often and the new FA Player app doesn’t offer a live screening of these games either which makes it difficult for fans to take an interest in the competition.
If the Continental Cup is to remain then live viewing and better running of the competition needs to happen in order to keep it fun and exciting for fans.