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Emma Hayes has bemoaned women’s football being ‘too cheap’ after Arsenal sold 51,000 tickets for their upcoming North London Derby at £12. The Chelsea head coach believes that clever scheduling should be prioritised over cheap tickets as a way of attracting more fans to Women’s Super League matches.
Arsenal will host rivals Tottenham in front of 51,000 on Saturday. It will be the biggest-ever crowd at a WSL game, trumping the attendance of just over 20,000 at Manchester United’s win over Everton at Old Trafford last season.
But Hayes believes that selling tickets at £12 is counter-productive. The 45-year-old argues that matches should be scheduled at more opportune times, such as the men’s international break, while clubs can still benefit financially.
“I’ve said it many times, women’s football is too cheap and I will stand by that. I think selling out [the Emirates], if it does sell out, there’s hope it sells out and if not, what a tremendous job anyway,” Hayes told journalists.
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“Whether they’re paying £10, or [more] it’s a step in the right direction, the next step is the recognition that men’s international breaks really work as a really good opportunity for the women’s game
“So let’s make sure we build that into the calendar throughout the whole year and that might not be achievable now. Let’s make it a regular thing, every international break that we may even align the fixtures in such a way that they are big showpiece games.
“It might not always be that it’s the league playing during then – it might end up being Champions League-play. But I think that’s probably the next step whilst building a strategy around, what does the medium term look like?
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“What is the stadium that only holds 5000 that sells out for the big games but doesn’t sell out 5000 every week and is still at 3000 for the vast majority? How do we build towards that 8-10,000 marker, whether that’s upgrading our own facilities to looking at new facilities.
“It’s important for the players to keep producing the quality on the pitch, because that’s what ultimately makes people tune in and makes people come back. So that’s my part to be playing.”
Arsenal and Spurs both won their opening WSL matches of the season. The Gunners are top of the table after a 4-0 win over Brighton.
“You can really feel the excitement around the game at the moment so it’s amazing to see that translate into a record-breaking attendance,” Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall said ahead of the crunch clash. “Now it’s our job to repay that enthusiasm with a big performance in this crucial clash for our supporters.”
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