Last Saturday saw Arsenal Ladies beat Chelsea Ladies 1-0 to win the 2015-16 FA Women’s Cup, thanks to an extraordinary goal by Danielle Carter.
On the 15th June 2016, the SWPL Cup Final between Glasgow City and Hibernian will take place.
The events can not be more different.
The FA Women’s Cup Final had an astonishing attendance of 32,912 – broadcast on the BBC (TV figures not available yet) and the reality is we know we won’t get anything like that for one of the major domestic days in the Scottish Women’s Football calendar.
One of the issues is the date. The final is being played on a Wednesday, making it hard for fans to travel to the event. We should be using events like these, when the two best clubs in the country at the moment battle it out for silverware to inspire the new generation. This is when dreams are made, when young girls will watch – wanting to be City’s Leanne Ross or Hibs’ Joelle Murray, lifting up that trophy.
If they can’t see that in person, then that will be a huge shame.
But it says something about the state of the game at this moment in time.
People need to be attending the SWPL and related matches. This is meant to the top flight of women’s football in the country, and we are hardly making a big splash about this event. Ainslie Park should be packed. And it can be.
So, why is there a huge disparity between Scotland and England? Well, first of all, this is true in football generally. But, this does not mean that we should sit back and deal with it.
Scotland is about (hopefully) to qualify for a major international tournament, we have players like Lisa Evans winning the Frauen-Bundesliga with Bayern München – we even have a nominee for the BBC Women’s Player of the Year in Kim Little.
And yet, you can hear the tumbleweed rolling by.
We need to get better in shouting about the game. You can have the greatest product in the world, but you need to promote it for people to know about it.
The SWPL need to make sure that in 2017, the SWPL Cup Final is played on a Sunday – possibly the Sunday just after the league takes a break for summer. Admittedly, this may be impaired slightly due to (hopefully) Scotland playing in the 2017 Euros, but it should have it’s own Sunday in the calendar.
But, that is for 2017 and we’re currently in 2016. The SWPL will almost definitely stream the Final, and whilst allowing audiences who are unlikely to be able to make the Final – regardless of the day – is a good thing, it doesn’t really help the league grow.
YouTube doesn’t lead to a bigger attendance at matches.
This is an argument being repeated. There was a big fear that BBC’s Match of the Day would stop people attending the matches. It’s why you still don’t get a Saturday game with a 3pm kick-off being televised. But the reality is this. If one person doesn’t want to attend an English Premier League, there’s another person who wants their ticket.
We are not in that case in the SWPL. Far from it.
The issue is that in growing the league, there are two groups of audiences you need to develop. The fans who go through the turnstiles and the fans who follow the league. It’s hard to argue that the second group is more important than the first.
And there is a problem that by streaming the Final, we are catering for the second rather than the first.
Here at Tartan Kicks, we are planning our coverage. We hope to bring pre-match interviews, we’ll be dedicating our latest issue to the Final and we’ll be producing specially created content ahead of the Final.
But how do you think the SWPL can improve the attendances in the league? And how do you think they can make sure as many fans will arrive at Ainslie Park on the 15th June?