Beth England scoring the winning goal in Chelsea 2–1 win over Arsenal.

Where should Women’s Super League matches be played?

The Women’s Super League is stuck over where to play matches: should more be held at larger venues or should they build the atmosphere in the smaller stadiums?

It is a dilemma – and one that has split the fanbase.

Kerrie, who is part of Chelsea Women’s Supporters Group, wants to focus on selling out grounds such as Kingsmeadow – the home of the Blues.

She said: “Of course, the players deserve to play in the biggest stadiums, but we want the team to play in front of packed stadiums instead of a quarter or half-full venues.

“Emma Hayes always talks about how important the fans are, but you don’t get the sound in a larger stadium.

“The last time Chelsea played at Stamford Bridge that atmosphere was different – you lost the noise straight away. Kingsmeadow is our home – it is best to concentrate on selling it out each week, rather than pushing for Stamford Bridge.”

Some clubs aren’t as lucky as Chelsea, however and don’t have a club-owned ground for their women’s side.

Nancy, Head of GiveMeSportWomen, said: “Playing matches at larger stadiums allows for more people to attend women’s matches.

“It also gives the women’s teams a degree of credibility among ‘mainstream football fans’, and allows clubs to push the ‘One Club’ mentality.”

It’s an issue particularly prevalent to Tottenham Hotspur Women, who will play their matches at Leyton Orient Men’s ground (Brisbane Road) next season, having spent three years at The Hive Stadium, home of another men’s team: Barnet FC.

For Spurs fans then, matches at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium feel like playing at home, although the ground is not necessarily the answer.

Phil, a member of the Tottenham Hotspur Women’s Support Club, said: “I would like to see bigger crowds at the regular grounds as you can create more atmosphere.

“If you put 4,500 into the Hive it feels completely different from the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“The one club that has it right is Manchester City – it’s still a club stadium but just smaller. You get five or six thousand people there its a completely different experience.

“When the fans are close together, it helps create the atmosphere as you get that buzz. I would love for Spurs to have a similar ground to City as with the best will in the world we don’t need a 65,000 seater.

“Not for now, at least!”

The debate has resurfaced ahead of the European Championships, which will be held in England this summer.

A host of grounds will be used across the country, although there has been criticism of City’s Academy Stadium.

Iceland international Sara Björk Gunnarsdóttir labelled the venue choice as “disrespectful” calling it a “training ground”.

Whilst the move is a cautious one, the general feeling is that it has been made with the game’s best interests at heart, as packed grounds are considered better than half-full stadiums.

Nancy added: “I personally think they made the right decision. I know Iceland in particular were unhappy about playing at the Academy Stadium, but they were just unlucky to be drawn into a group that played at the smallest venue in the tournament.

“It still has world-class facilities and pitch, and a sold-out crowd will create an amazing atmosphere.

“That’s what it comes down to for me – it’s better to have a 10,000 capacity stadium sold out than a 40,000 one which is 60% full.”

Featured image credit: Katie Chan via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence

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