Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall is confident the new Barclays Women’s Super League campaign can live up to expectations and deliver a quality product on the pitch.
After all English football matches were postponed last weekend as a show of respect following the death of the Queen, Arsenal’s home game against Brighton at Meadow Park on Friday night will open the season.
Following England’s success at Euro 2022 this summer, there is more interest than ever in the new WSL campaign.
Four Arsenal players – Lionesses skipper Leah Williamson, Golden Boot winner Beth Mead, Nikita Parris (now at Manchester United) and Lotte Wubben-Moy – were part of Sarina Weigman’s squad who beat Germany at Wembley in front of a competition-record crowd of 87,192 Wembley.
As a result of this success, several WSL clubs have seen a boost in season ticket sales.
Eidevall believes fans will not be disappointed – and the continued surge in interest could mean more games being played in larger capacity venues.
“I’m sure the players will react brilliantly on the pitch because of the quality and we see that the sporting product is of high quality,” said the Arsenal manager.
“We just have to make sure we find stadiums now where all spectators can come in and watch. I think that will be the problem because we have very few medium-sized stadiums in the country.
“They either have smaller stadiums or really big stadiums and our game that didn’t materialize against Manchester City is a perfect example of that.
“We’re two good teams with a lot of interest that’s going to sell out at their academy stadium, so the question is, if so many more people want to see the game, where are we playing it? So we can really have all the people that want to come to the game and make sure they have access to it.”
Arsenal have already sold more than 40,000 tickets for the north London derby against Tottenham on September 24 at the Emirates Stadium.
That breaks the WSL record of 38,262 when the two teams met at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2019.
Eidevall expects the uptrend to continue.
“At the end of the day, it’s about creating a product that means so much to people that you go there and watch the game even if it’s a blizzard, even if it’s not comfortable because you care so much about the team cares and you want to be there so much. We’re trying to do our best on the pitch for that,” said the Swede.
“If I’m just talking about Arsenal as a whole club, obviously we try to work with all departments so we can reach all of our potential viewers and get them into the stadium so we can experience that together.
“It’s not a quick fix just to do one thing, it’s about making that connection with people so they want to go and feel like they have to go because it’s their first priority – and then they have to.” Don’t worry about the weather in January once you’ve managed that.”