Clubs need to pick the right games and ticket prices if they are to fill their main stadium for women’s matches

On 20 November last year, Chelsea Women welcomed a club record crowd of 38,350 to a sold-out Stamford Bridge for their 3-0 defeat of Tottenham. Yet that match is an outlier. Because, despite unrivalled success on the pitch in recent years in England, the club is still struggling to fill the main stadium when the women’s team play there. Chelsea built on the 24,564 that watched them play Spurs in 2019, but this year’s game against the same opponents attracted only 14,776. Why is this? Why are the winners of the past four league titles unable to regularly get closing to filling Stamford Bridge and what can they do to hit that target?

Let’s be clear, only one club, Arsenal, is getting this right at the moment and consistently attracting large crowds at its main stadium. Arsenal have also sold out only one game, their Champions League semi-final loss to Wolfsburg last season, at a ground with a capacity about 20,000 larger than Chelsea’s. This is a journey that every club is on, and each is a different distance along the path to regular crowds in excess of 30,000. Chelsea show how difficult the job is, because they demonstrate that being serial winners isn’t enough. Large crowds have to be attracted, built and held on to.

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