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Arsenal women to play home games at Emirates Stadium next season

The decision is reflective of rapidly growing interest in professional women’s football across Europe.

As fan interest in women’s football continues to reach new heights, Arsenal FC has announced that its men’s team will share the Emirates Stadium with the women’s team for home games in the 2024-2025 season.

This signals a huge step forward for women’s football, which until recent years, has not been taken as seriously as men’s sport. As a result, women’s games have primarily been hosted outside of club’s official stadiums with turnout being lower than men’s games.

In England specifically, it’s believed that a rapid surge in interest in women’s football has come off the back of The Lionesses success in bringing home the 2022 Euros trophy. They did so after the men’s squad had dramatically lost to Italy in the Euros final the previous summer.

Increased fan attendance has been particularly visible at Arsenal’s women’s matches, which has boasted an average attendance of 52,029 – including two sellout games and three record-breaking WSL turnouts.

Similar trends are occurring across the continent, with analysis by Deloitte finding that the average revenues of the top 15 European women’s football clubs had grown by 61 percent over the last year.

Going forward, the north London arena will host eight of Arsenal’s Women’s Super League (WSL) matches as well as three Champions League group games, should the team qualify. If they do, the following matches will be played at the Emirates, too.

 

 

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A changing attitude towards women’s sport

Historically dismissive attitudes towards women’s football were shaped by those at the top.

During World War One, when women’s football began filling the gap left by young men sent to battle, The Football Association (FA) declared that football was ‘quite unsuitable for females’.

The organisation then banned registered clubs from letting their women’s teams play on club grounds or with registered referees, which forced newly flourishing teams to play on company fields, public pitches, or other sports grounds.

Combined efforts from the newly formed Women’s Football Association and UEFA in 1969 saw these restrictions on women’s football removed, but grassroots efforts to grow clubs were often stunted by lack of funding.

It took another three decades for women’s football to begin picking up traction, but by 2008 the Women’s Super League had finally been created.

From this point, the promotion of women’s competitions steadily increased.

Women’s teams were allowed to play some of their games at club stadiums, but given uncertain turnouts and prioritisation of men’s games, the vast majority were played offsite on secondary pitches.

Public support continues to rise

Today, women’s football is finally being given the credit and public support its hard-working athletes and staff deserve.

New record attendances are being made seemingly with every league game, while the buzz around cup finals and major competitions are receiving increasingly high levels of media attention.

This is attracting more funding to women’s teams, boosting revenue for clubs on a whole, and encouraging involvement and attendance from a new generation of football fans.

Arsenal’s decision to host all women’s home games at their club stadium is not just symbolic of a long-overdue shift in the sports sector, but of wider changes regarding gender equality in society.

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