History will be made in November as it was announced on Friday that the next Women’s Merseyside Derby between Liverpool FC Women and Everton FC Women will be played at Anfield on the 17th of November, for the very first time.
A big occasion on Merseyside
It is something that has been on the cards for a while and after Manchester City hosted Manchester United in a record-setting attendance on the opening day of the Women’s Super League, Chelsea beating Tottenham 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, and West Ham hosting Spurs at the London Stadium, it was about time the two Merseyside clubs jumped on the bandwagon.
Liverpool manager Vicky Jepson spoke when the news was released about the game being held at Anfield and how it was important to “introduce our women’s team to a whole new group of Reds supporters and, quite simply, we can’t wait”
Everton manager Willie Kirk said, “Hopefully we can build on the growing popularity of women’s football”
That is the most important thing about hosting these events at stadiums like Anfield, The Etihad, and Stamford Bridge because it is vital that attendance at women’s football matches continue to grow and the only way to do that is to market games such as a Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton as an opportunity for people to see what the sport is all about.
This is something that is normal for teams in the NWSL, since the league made a comeback in 2013 both men’s and women’s teams have been sharing a ground and the 2019 attendance record shows just how impactful that has been with an average attendance for each game for the Portland Thorns being 20,098, and the Portland Timbers reaching around 25,218 at Providence Park.
This just proves that ground-sharing between teams can make a huge difference in people viewing the games and it is something that English football teams should do more in the future if they want it to be successful and grow the game.
It’s not just in the domestic league that history has been made with the FA announcing a sold-out Wembley stadium for England Women vs Germany on the 9th of November. This will be the first time that the Lionesses have hosted a match at Wembley and it is bound to be a momentous occasion with over 90,000 fans expecting to show up.
This is something that has been fuelled due to the success at this summer’s World Cup with England breaking TV records for the most-watched games, so this is the perfect marketing opportunity for women’s football in England.
What could go wrong?
There is no denying that this is a huge step in the right direction for Women’s football but you have also got to look at the potential negative effects it could have on the game and the teams. Anfield has a capacity of 54,074 – that is a lot of seats to fill for the Women’s super league team whose highest attendance so far this season has been 1,445.
However, Liverpool women play at Prenton Park which is based in Birkenhead and Everton FC Women play at Southport FC Stadium meaning that such low attendance could be because of where the team is based, rather than no one actually caring about the teams.
There has been talk of double-headers being played at Stadiums with the Women’s team playing before the men’s in order to drive bigger crowds at the games and Arsenal actually gave this a go at this in the summer with the women hosting Bayern Munich at the Emirates before the men played Lyon in a pre-season friendly straight after.
Overall I think that this could be a positive event for both Liverpool and Everton, and for all the teams in the WSL as a whole, as it will bring more people into the game which will ultimately bring in more fans in the future.