Fan groups across the women’s game have written to their clubs and football authorities to highlight the growing problem of fixture clashes with men’s football.
Supporters who follow women’s teams say that they are increasingly having to choose between watching their women’s or men’s teams as TV forces more and more clashes in the fixture schedule.
Recently, a late change to the Premier League’s penultimate weekend kick-offs means that Manchester City fans who follow the club’s men’s and women’s teams will have to choose which game to watch: a potential Premier League title decider or an FA Cup final at Wembley.
Last week’s example was the latest in a long line of fixture clashes caused by TV and other rescheduling decisions that did not take into consideration any impact on the women’s game.
Now groups from the FSA’s Women’s Game Network have written to their clubs urging them to give more consideration to scheduling to prevent such clashes in future.
The letter says: “The FSA Women’s Game Network felt they were given assurance from the FA that match-going fans would be considered and catered for in line with the landmark deal with Sky but it seems the opposite is happening and match-going fans are being treated as a lower priority when TV scheduling is happening.
“Our members are being directly affected by the broadcast deal and the timings of games. If the club would like to grow and develop their in-stadia supporter base then our experiences and thoughts need to be heard before key decisions are made.”
Supporter groups in the women’s game – and even some players – say fixture clashes with the men’s game have a significant impact on matchday attendances at women’s football – and that this will hurt the long term health of the game if the issue goes unaddressed.
“There have been far too many instances over the years where clubs have suffered from clashes, and the frequency has increased this season with the new WSL TV deal,” says Jude Morris-King, FSA National Council representative from the Women’s Game Network.
“It is all very well having the FA do the big advertising campaigns for the FA Cup weekends, but if supporters are discouraged from attending their own competition by clashes how does that portray the promotion of the women’s game?”
Women’s Game strategy
At the end of last month, the FSA launched its first ever women’s game strategy document – the strategy aims to enhance the women’s game and supporters’ involvement over key issues that impact fans, including fixture clashes.
FSA women’s game lead Deborah Dilworth said: “The fan groups in our Women’s Game Network deserve credit again for lobbying on behalf of supporters in women’s football.
“If the clubs and authorities are serious about the growth of the sport, they have to take the concerns of matchgoing supporters seriously, particularly on fixture clashes. We look forward to positive dialogue in the near future.”