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Football and the demand for gender equality – the stats from West Ham don’t lie

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 13 September 2021

Football is not a beautiful game it is a business. Those who play it well earn a shed load because there is such a huge demand to watch them kick a ball around the park and for merchandise associated with the great and good. But those who demand equal pay and airtime for the women’s game sometimes forget this.

I support my daughter’s supporting ambitions in every respect but Id be lying to her if I said, as the BBC and others pretend, that the standard of play in the women’s game are as high as in the men’s game or that the women’s game has as much commercial pull as the men’s game. It is just a lie. Here are a couple of telling stats to make my point. At my beloved West Ham both the men’s side and the women’s team play in the top flight, the Premiership.

The last home game for the men was against Crystal Palace, not a great side and he attendance was 59,751., That is capacity. Had the ground been bigger more would have attended. Tickets for the last home women’s game are cheaper, the opponents were Aston Villa, another mid table side. The attendance was just 1,106.  Man City vs Spurs at the top of the table attracted 1,126.  For cup finals, internationals and every level of the women’s game the picture is the same. However much it is drummed into us by the media that the two games are equal and should get equal prominence in news programmes and other TV coverage and that players should earn the same, the fact is that women’s soccer is very much a minority sport.

Putting this in perspective, my local team Wrexham play in the fifth tier of British soccer, that is to say outside of the football league. Okay there is a bit of Hollywood glamour these days but for the last home game against Woking the attendance was 8,242. That would be 7.5 times as many as the top of the Premiership table women’s match.   

But the deadwood press do not care whether anyone actually want to watch these sports we will be forced to watch more and more of a game that so few really care about. It’s not about the game, it is not even about business it is about equality of outcome not of opportunity.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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