Ahead of the opening weekend of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, new research from Barclays and YouGov reveals the shifting trends in a pivotal moment in women’s football. In this new survey taken in August sampling over 2000 adults*, 69% of those who have an interest in the women’s game believe it deserves the same profile as the men’s game, 46% of people who have been to a match were surprised by how professional the game was, and 74% think it’s underrated.
This surge of interest and appreciation, coupled with the recent record-breaking multi-million investment from Barclays, is set to accelerate the transformation of the game at all levels. Beyond the investments to the League, the joint pledge from Barclays and The Football Association (FA) to make football available to all girls at school by 2024 will drive significant changes and provide opportunities to participate from a grassroots level. As the main supporter of the FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships, Barclays will help deliver football through 100 hubs covering 6,000 schools across the country.
As the Barclays FA Women’s Super League kicks off on Saturday, record attendances are expected at Stamford Bridge (8th Sept), with 40,000 tickets already distributed for Chelsea vs Tottenham, and the Etihad Stadium (7th Sept) for Manchester City vs Manchester United after a bumper summer that has inspired a new generation of fans.
The positive momentum is evident: of those adults who consider themselves ‘football fans’, more than half (56%) of those who have watched a women’s match said they enjoyed watching women’s football as much as the men’s. Of those who have an interest in women’s football, 47% said they are looking forward to the new domestic season and 32% said they feel hopeful about the future of the sport.
However, there is still a long way to go in achieving fundamental changes in perception and attendance. Men are still more likely to watch a women’s game than women themselves, and of those surveyed 31% had attended a Premier League match compared to 1% who had been to a Women’s Super League game.
Tom Corbett, Barclays Global Head of Sponsorship and Media, said:
“It’s an exciting time to be a part of football. We expect the new season of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League to generate record-breaking attendance after a massively popular World Cup this summer. Yet, it is clear that this is the beginning and with the vast majority of girls still not having access to football we are determined to work alongside The FA, to give all girls the same access in schools as boys by 2024.
We have started that process by supporting The FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships that aims to use 100 hubs around the country to enable schools to put girls’ football on the curriculum. With a successful professional game and equal opportunities for girls at the grassroots level, we can change the perception over time so that the national game is for everyone.”
Kelly Smith, former England Captain and Barclays Ambassador, said:
“A few years ago, men’s football defined the women’s game, but not now. The women’s game stands on its own, and I think that is down to the last couple of tournaments and the work that brands like Barclays have done to support it. Making it accessible for everyone has been huge, and the women’s game should be incredibly proud of what it has achieved. That being said, there’s still room to evolve and develop, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”
Barclays supports both women’s and men’s football at the top tier and has renewed its Official Banking Partner agreement with the Premier League for a further three years. It will draw on this experience and its previous experience of delivering grassroots sport through its Barclays Spaces for Sports programme to deliver on its commitment to women’s and girls’ football