Arsenal Ladies won their 12th FA Women’s Cup after beating Bristol Academy 3-0 in the final on Sunday, but what has happened to the attendances at the biggest domestic women’s football cup in England? Women’s Soccer United’s Gina West investigates
Following the weekend’s final, Women’s Soccer United received many enquiries from fans about why the attendance was so low, and we have been struggling to work out what has caused the recent fall in the numbers.
The FA Women’s Cup final day offers an exciting contest that has attracted huge attendances over the years but worryingly this seems to be declining. The competition allows teams from all the divisions to compete for the trophy, with the excitement of potential cup upsets and the feeling that anything can happen in a cup match.
The fixture has been regularly broadcast on mainstream TV over the years, including; Channel 4, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports before returning to the BBC this year. So, the fact that you can watch the final on TV should not influence the attendance, when you compare the history of the competition.
If anything, over recent years the media coverage has increased in the build up to the final compared to the early years of the competition (including online, radio and TV), the Women’s Super League is in full swing and we are told we are benefiting from the Olympic legacy that has heightened the interest of women’s football in England, so why are the attendances for the top cup trophy getting less and less each year?
Could it be the venue chosen to host the final? Or is it to do with what teams are challenging for the title? I am interested to learn what could have caused the lack of interest.
Here is a quick recap of the numbers over recent years (Source: Wikipedia):
- 2003, Fulham 3-0 Charlton (Selhurst Park – 10,389)
- 2004, Arsenal 3-0 Charlton (Loftus Road – 12,244)
- 2005, Charlton 1-0 Everton (Upton Park – 8,567)
- 2006, Arsenal 5-0 Leeds (The New Den – 13,452)
- 2007, Arsenal 4-1 Charlton (City Ground – 24,529)
- 2008, Arsenal 4-1 Leeds (City Ground – 24,582)
- 2009, Arsenal 2-1 Sunderland (Pride Park – 23,291)
- 2010, Everton 3-2 Arsenal (City Ground – 17,505)
- 2011, Arsenal 2-0 Bristol (Ricoh Arena – 13,885)
- 2012, Birmingham 2-2 (3-2 pen) Chelsea (Ashton Gate – 8,723)
- 2013, Arsenal 3-0 Bristol (Keepmoat Stadium – 4,988)
You can see the rise each year (except for a dip in 2005), before reaching its height in 2008. From 2010 the attendance figures are dropping massively with this year’s being the lowest in over 10 years. I hope that organisers have noticed this and will work at attracting more support for next year’s competition.
I will leave you with these words from Delia Smith… “Where are you? Where are you? Let’s be ‘avin’ you! Come on!”