England’s Women’s Super League is readying for its biggest season since forming in 2010. While the National Women’s Soccer League across the pond in the United States is in disarray on and off the pitch, the WSL has seen fan interest grow to record heights ahead of the 2022 kick off.
The season is now mere days away and the hype continues to grow with two of England’s biggest women’s teams announcing well in advance that they had sold out season tickets for the first time ever.
So, what is different about this season’s WSL and could this be a landmark moment for women’s football in England?
When does the Women’s Super League start?
The 2022-23 Women’s Super League will kick off on Friday, September 9. The new campaign will be the 12th season of the WSL.
Chelsea are the reigning champions after picking up their fifth WSL title in 2021-22 and are 10/11 to win the league. However, Arsenal are one of the favourites to take the title off of Chelsea. The Gunners are three-time winners of the Super League and at odds of 6/4 to win the trophy this time around.
Liverpool have returned to the WSL after a two-year stint in the Championship. The two-time champions will be set on staying up and potentially pushing the top two for silverware. Liverpool are 150/1 to win the WSL.
England – Champions of Europe
While the England men’s national team fell short of winning the European Championship tournament held in 2021, losing in the final to Italy on penalties, the Lionesses went one further, claiming the women’s version of the trophy in July.
The women’s national team’s 2-1 victory against record-European Champion Germany in extra-time led to celebrations around England. The interest in the Lionesses’ summer tournament campaign was unprecedented with everyone from morning talk show hosts to average Joes working on building sites following the ladies.
For the first time, England’s women’s players were known by name, as Ella Toone, Ellen White, Mary Earps, and Beth Mead became celebrities. Mead bagged six goals at the tournament, becoming an overnight sensation, while Toone and others had murals painted on walls in cities across England.
The Lionesses’ victory not only sparked further interest in women’s football from fans in England, but it inspired many to purchase tickets to WSL games for the upcoming season. Now, with a new interest ignited, fans are hoping to be enveloped into the excitement of the WSL.
Can the WSL live up to the excitement?
Former England women’s international, Fara Williams, admitted after the Lionesses’ European Championship win that she never believed the women’s game could reach the level it has now. While it has reached new heights, women’s football in England can go even higher and become the pinnacle of the ladies’ game.
The United States was seen as the leader in women’s football for so long, and thanks to the ability to get young girls involved in the sport at an early age, America has succeeded in developing talent. Yet, over the last 10 years, the rest of the world has made strides to catch up with the US, and no one has closed the gap more than England.
The WSL is already one of Europe’s top leagues, although it still has some way to become the top competition in terms of competing in the Women’s Champions League.
Still, the money available in the 12-team WSL is attracting elite talent from all over the world while keeping many domestic players at home. Twenty of the 23-woman roster that played at the Euros play for teams in England with just three playing abroad.
Building A Fanbase By Making Games Accessible
Not only will fans be able to watch WSL games live in stadiums, if they can get a ticket, but matches will be aired on television or streaming platforms like never before. Fans now have more opportunities to see the league, which will increase the number of eyes on the matches.
Sky Sports will show weekly WSL games, sometimes two to three, while the BBC will also air matches. Fans wanting to watch their favourite teams but unable to see them via Sky Sports or the BBC will be able to watch along on the exclusive FA Player streaming service. Fans can watch matches free on the FA Player.
Unlike the men’s Premier League, the WSL is making it simple to watch matches from the women’s circuit. Fans don’t have to pay for a high-priced subscription with matches streamed on the FA Player platform and on the free-to-air channel BBC. The ability to offer matches free to fans is one of the best ways to grow women’s football and take advantage of an outstanding summer of success.
Affordable Football For Fans
While the Premier League is accused of pricing fans out of football, the same complaint cannot be levelled at the WSL. Thanks in large part to the Lionesses winning the Euros, fans will flock to the grounds of WSL teams this season.
In mid-August, it was announced by both Arsenal and Chelsea that all season tickets had been sold for home matches. Even before that announcement, nine of the 12 WSL teams reported ticket sales had increased for the upcoming season.
In the wake of the Euros, Liverpool, promoted from the Championship at the end of last season, claimed a 254% increase in season ticket sales. While Arsenal reported that early sales of tickets for a London Derby with Tottenham at the Emirates were nearing five figures.
But it isn’t just England’s Euro success that is driving fans to the turnstiles, or to their smartphones to buy season tickets. The prices for season tickets for WSL teams is incredibly modest.
An adult Liverpool season ticket for matches at Prenton Park (a ground the Liverpool women share with Tranmere Rovers) costs just £60. If fans want to combine an adult season ticket with a child’s season ticket, the cost would be a mere £75.
The price for matches for an adult season ticket breaks down to a mere £5.45 per match at Liverpool. Prices are similar around the league. Attending a WSL match will cost fans far less than taking in a match in the Championship, League One, League Two, or the National League.
It is cheaper to watch professional women’s football than to watch a game at Atherton Collieries in the Northern Premier League, which makes up the seventh and eighth tiers of English men’s football. It costs fans £10 to get in to watch amateur men’s football at that level.
While the 2022-23 season isn’t a make-or-break season for the WSL, it could certainly be a breakout campaign for the women’s top flight. Fans are now aware of the product and are ready to dive in.