One week on from the ‘watershed’ England Euro’s win - what’s changed?
Updated: Aug 8, 2022
After the final whistle blew at Wembley last week, amongst the overflowing jubilation, there was immediate talks of it being a watershed moment for women’s football.
So a week on, let’s have a browse at what’s actually happened so far…
LIONESSES LETTER TO THE FUTURE PRIME MINISTER.
3 days after the talk of the legacy began, the Lionesses wrote an open letter to the current candidates for Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, signed by all 23 players.
The primary message was for “every girl in the nation to be able to play football” as well “all girls hav[ing] access to a minimum of 2 hours a week PE”. They also requested investment and support for female PE teachers.
It’s a tad concerning that it’s taken a major tournament win for this to be drawn to government attention, but good on the 23 players for doing it so quickly, whilst all eyes are on them.
Although this idea was obviously supported by all, 23 year old defender, Lotte Wubben-Moy was the initial nucleus of it.
Wubben-Moy has a programme built upon giving back to the community drafted into her Arsenal contract and a tweet she sent to Nike in 2013 has recently resurfaced, when she asked why Nike sponsor Arsenal U16 male players but not any female ones. Clearly issues such as these have been festering for Wubben-Moy for a long time, now she and the Lionesses are in the position to do something impactful about it.
Back to the very different characters of Sunak and Truss. Both have responded in the typically political manner - a vague and convoluted statement.
Sunak pledged to “tighten the accountability that surrounds the Primary School PE and Sport Premium to make sure children are receiving the education they deserve”.
Sunak has also said that he would launch a national review into women’s football and back a bid to host the women’s World Cup - both of which are completely irrelevant to what the Lionesses are asking for, but you do you Rishi.
Truss meanwhile is apparently “committed to to investigating what prevents schools from delivering the recommended minimum of 2 hours of PE per week” and “wants equal access to all sports for boys and girls.” Full of substance that.
So they have been responded to, but neither have really hit the nail on the head. Their responses could likely be filled with PR rather than genuine ambition. Let’s see what happens.
ENGLAND VS USA AT WEMBLEY
The day before the open letter was released, it was announced that England will play the world champions the USA at Wembley on 7th October - subject to World Cup qualification in September.
There was ticket chaos like never before seen for a Lionesses game and 90,000 tickets subsequently sold out in 24 hours.
A good and clearly premeditated move to keep the interest going, should be a very good game as well.
SEASON TICKET RECORD SALES
Focus now turns to the Women’s Super League, where advantage of the success must be taken. At the moment the signs are positive.
Season ticket sales have boomed, Man City have cited an 100% increase in their sales and Arsenal have sold 1,500. Clubs such as Brighton and Reading have announced record sales too.
Clubs are pushing season tickets so much as it hopefully means more longevity in attendances and interest, instead of a one-off big attendance for a showpiece game.
WSL season tickets are also very affordable, with the most expensive being £77 and the cheapest £39.
Special mention to Everton, who are excluded from this disscussion as they are the only WSL club without a season ticket option for their womens team - not a great look for them at the minute.
INCREASED MATCH TICKET SALES
Besides seasons tickets, the showpiece games at the clubs main stadiums in particular look to be selling well.
Over 10,000 tickets for the Manchester Derby at the Ethiad have been sold within a week and over 20,000 have been sold for the North London derby at the Emirates.
On top of this, all general admission for the opening night of the WSL, Man City vs Arsenal, is sold out.
It’s impossible to gage how much of an impact winning had on these tickets sales but it wouldn’t be an out there guess to suggest quite a large one.
MASS MAINSTREAM MEDIA ATTENTION.
The media circus has well and truly rolled up for the Lionesses in the past week.
It’s difficult to know where to begin:
Chloe Kelly on Good Morning Britain. Keira Walsh on Soccer AM. Lucy Bronze on BT Sport. Jill Scott on Football Focus. Georgia Stanway popping up on Sky before a rugby game. Countless radio interviews. Kelly, Alex Greenwood, Rachel Daly and Lauren Hemp have been paraded around stadiums on the opening weekend of the Premier League and Championship. The team have been discussed at length 10 minutes before kick off in the Premier League and during the games.
Not to mention Alessia Russo, who has done about 87 interviews in the past week, has been on the cover of The Times and her boots are currently next to the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London - would’ve liked for her to have read that sentence a month ago.
Some of the mainstream media are still completely clueless - mostly looking at you Richard Madeley - but arguably (almost) all attention at the moment is positive attention.
Obviously there has been increased media attention over the years, but this is unprecedented - as is the Lionesses winning a major tournament to be fair.
The attention and investment trickling down to grassroots level isn’t going to happen overnight. But it has to be a priority.
The government have recently pledged a £230 million investment to build or improve grassroots facilities, it remains to be seen how far this will go. Safe to say hopes can’t exactly be high with the local authority cuts in recent times having a detrimental effect of community football pitches.
Hopefully there’s more to come on this front post Euros, in the near and long term future - there’s serious problems if there isn’t.
A REAL WATERSHED?
It does feel like something is finally happening.
Is it all just knee-jerk? It really all remains to be seen what will happen in the longer term.
It will take a number of months rather than weeks to establish the magnitude of the discussed ‘watershed’.
Close attention will be paid to WSL attendances, grassroots investment, media discussion and whether the future Prime Minister will make a genuine change, or use the victory for some throwaway PR moves.
If done correctly, it’s a potentially very exciting time.