The BBC report that crowds at this year’s Women’s (Football) Super League are way up. The average attendance at a Division 1 WSL game is now over 1,000, spiking considerably following England’s successful World Cup run.
What does this mean for women’s cricket? That’s not an easy question to answer. On the one hand it validates women’s sport in general; but on the other, women’s football (taking place over the summer) much more directly competes with women’s cricket, for bums on seats, for sponsorship and for players, with the most talented sportswomen often finding themselves with options in both games, not to mention hockey as well.
The post World Cup attendance spike is interesting too. It is probably to be expected – nothing breeds success like success; but would it have happened if the games had not been on live, free-to-air TV?
The likes of Eniola Aluko, Casey Stoney, Steph Houghton and Fran Kirby are household and (don’t underestimate the importance of this…) schoolyard “names” now, starring in inspiring Virgin Media ads which make the cardboard cutouts of Sarah Taylor and Lottie in Waitrose look a bit… how can we put this… lame?
One thing is clear – we have to pay attention to what football is doing with their women’s game. Like it or not, the scheduling of our Super League needs to not clash too much with theirs, because if the two go up against each other, there will only be one winner, and sadly it won’t be cricket!
At the Cricket Super League launch, Clare Connor talked (tongue in cheek, I think) about Arsenal hosting a franchise. I dismissed it at the time, but some kind of partnership might not be a terrible idea, if only at local level.
It might not be common here, but in Spain all the top football clubs are actually “sports” clubs, with even the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona also hosting basketball and other sports teams, so it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility.
Finally, Super League manager Jo Kirk definitely needs to have lunch with her counterpart at Lancaster Gate. Domestic women’s football also underwent a controversial restructuring recently, which was violently opposed by many within the game… but it doesn’t seem to be working out too badly for them now!