Iceland midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir expressed her frustration over the choice of venues for the upcoming women’s European Championship finals scheduled in England this summer. She was unhappy and questioned over the choices of her two games to be played at the 5000 capacity Manchester City Academy Stadium and her question highlighted whether the Football Association was ambitious enough in choosing the venues and whether they are concerned to adapt to the accelerating growth of the Games?
She also pointed out her query while speaking to one of the podcasts “I don’t know what’s going on in their heads or if they’re even following women’s football”.
Major International competitions have a substantial impact on the growth of the women’s games, where each tournament shows the growth of the sport. There were concerns raised while hosting the ground of the 2022 tournament, along with the launching of the women’s super league as a full-time professional league event in 2018 and also participation domestically by 2020. Wembley Stadium, Brighton’s Amex Stadium, Brentford Community Stadium in London, Nottingham’s City Ground, Milton Keynes’s Stadium, Rotherham’s New York Stadium, Sheffield’s Bramall Lane, and Southampton’s St Mary’s stadium were unveiled.
These choices of the stadium look hugely unambitious, mainly drawn up at a static moment in time, with only 240,000 tickets sold across the 2017 euros event and many of them are cautious over the growth of the games in the coming years.
There seems to be a lack of coordination with the strategy for the development of the women’s game in England pushed with accelerated growth and ambitious delivery of tournament. The addition of the Old Trafford venue for the opening game of the tournament shows the willingness to expand its ambitions, whereas the FA is clearly unaware of the problems. Also, it came an extremely disappointing moment with the announcement of the inaccessible Leigh Sports Village venue holding a capacity of 12,000, replacing the 30,000 capacity City Ground and also hosting three group games and a quarter-final match.
Over 700,000 tickets are made available for the tournament, which is far beyond the 240,000 tickets sold (of 480,000 on offer) in 2017, with an average attendance of 7,969. However, at the 2019 World Cup, more than 1.1 million tickets were sold and had an average attendance of 21,756 spectators.