Ahead of the new WSL season, I sat down with Manchester United Women Fans Alex Whalley and David Elmore who have been fans of the Women’s Teams since they were formed.
RF: Welcome David and Alex. First of all, thank you for joining me.
AW: Thank You for having us.
DE: Yes Thank You for allowing us this opportunity
RF: Well the First Question is, What improvements have you seen from Football Clubs within the last 4 years to promote the Women’s Game?
DE: Over the last four years clubs have been more willing to give over space on their social media platforms which I think is a major help as well as the bigger clubs giving space to their women’s teams on their TV channels. Whilst the hardcore will always watch, it gives the opportunity for the more casual fan to fall across information & get interested.
AW: I agree that social media and more use of television has been a big improvement in the last 4 years. More competitions are available to watch but are also are being promoted during the men’s matches, hence more people becoming aware of women’s football.
RF: With that in mind Alex do you believe that Manchester United as a club are starting to find a good balance between the two fan bases?
AW: There are now more groups on social media (such as Facebook) that are designed to both the men’s and women’s teams), however I think there’s still an agenda against the women’s game for some fans and the men still have a much larger fan base.
RF: David do you feel that the split of venue can have an effect on the attendance between the Men’s and Women’s Teams?
DE: I Don’t know, even as someone who goes to both teams. Unfortunately, the venue used for MUW is not really helpful in drawing a lot of the home fans over given the distance between OT & LSV
RF: Coming away from Domestic Football and focusing on England Women now With a large amount of The Lionesses coming from Clubs who have successful Men’s sides do you feel clubs like Man City, Chelsea and Man United give their Women’s side a bigger step up against some of those less fortunate?
DE: I think the gap has closed (especially for current & recently retired Lionesses) in terms of visibility. The number of players used in mainstream advertising campaigns is heartening, but this is probably only the top 1%, Increases in winnings in cup competitions will help, but there is still a long way to go.
AW: I think the history of certain larger clubs has definitely helped their women’s teams grow quicker (such as Man United) but I think the money that big teams have (such as Chelsea, Man City) will always be a factor in getting better players, and until more teams invest more in their women’s team it’ll stay a top 3 league. a top 3 league.
RF: Do you believe that Women footballers have come any closer to bridging the gap between themselves and their male colleagues?
AW: The women bridging that gap isn’t just on the football pitch as the current day there are more Women’s managers, pundits, commentators and referees and this for more comes down to advertising the women’s game. Overall yes I do believe it’s taken a big change, nowadays women in all areas are becoming more equal with men.
RF: With rumours of Women’s football taking up a spot at 3 pm on a Saturday do you feel this could affect both the Men’s and Women’s game due to casual fans choosing Male Football over Female Football or Vice Versa?
DE: I think the change would be good for the women’s teams. As a fan, my major bugbear is the movement of matches after the tickets have gone on sale. A specific slot would be good for the hardcore travelling & I believe the fan bases are still separate enough to not be much affected. Plus anything that means fewer matches at 7 pm on a Sunday has to be welcomed.
AW: I don’t think it would affect anything as the men’s 3 pm games are not televised anyway and i don’t personally know any men’s football fans that like the 3 pm kick-off anyway. It would give the Women’s game a better chance at growing a bigger fan base as if your watching football all day and their 3 pm game was televised then fans are more likely to watch it instead of missing 2 and half hours worth of football. It would only work though if the Women’s 3 pm kickoff was televised.
RF: Lastly, where do you feel Man United will finish in the WSL?
AW: Anything in the top 3 would be an amazing achievement as now trying to stay at the top is the realistic target, so I say I think 2nd or 3rd as arsenal will be better when some of there injured players are fit to play
I would expect us to finish top three if we can stay injury-free, but it will be a fight.