I have watched West Ham women live, I watched them lose the FA Cup Final last year on the TV, gripped. I cheered on the brave Lionesses this summer. Supporting my daughter’s sporting career in ways you cannot imagine, I take women’s sport seriously. But to pretend that there should be equal pay for women’s soccer players with the men and that both games are of equal status, as the BBC does, is to deny the facts.
Much was made by the BBC of the 25,000 who watched Chelsea women beat Spurs at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend of the season. What the state funded broadcaster neglected to mention was that 40,000 FREE tickets were handed out so allowing the clubs to claim a sell-out. But with almost half of those tickets unclaimed the ground was almost half empty and gate revenue was nil. The next men’s team home fixture will see 41,000 folks pay an average of £65 a ticket.
The women’s Manchester Derby attracted 31,000 folks a new record for the WSL. But Adults paid £7, and got three free U-16 tickets as a bonus. When the Etihad hosts the men’s derby 55,000 folks will pay £30-58 to watch.
The total attendance on the opening weekend of the WSL was 63,000 which means that the other four games played at Arsenal, Birmingham, Reading and Bristol City attracted just 7,000 spectators between them. Only 873 turned up to watch Everton beat Birmingham City. The women’s game is making great strides and I am delighted. I actually rather enjoy watching it. There were some superb goals this weekend, notably the Reading strike that sunk Liverpool. But to pretend that it is of a similar status to the men’s game is a fantasy. And to try to pay the women the same as the men on those sort of (paying) crowd numbers would sink the game completely for very obvious reasons.
It is probably a sexist hate crime to point this out and I know we live in a post fact era so this is just for the record…