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Women’s football – don’t miss the boat

Is women’s sport getting the coverage it deserves?

By James Evelegh

Women’s football – don’t miss the boat

Have you been watching the Women’s World Cup? I’ve found myself dipping in and out and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s competitive sport between skilful and committed players. There are excellent goals, like Ella Toone’s goal yesterday, and nail-biting drama. The France vs Australia penalty shoot-out lasted 20 minutes (twenty penalty kicks in total), with Australia emerging as 7-6 winners.

And, let’s not forget, England has reached the World Cup Final and it’s not every day of the week you can say that.

What’s not to enjoy!

Anyway, I’m not a sports reporter, so I won’t bore you further with my amateurish views on the subject, suffice to say that I think news media might be in danger of missing the boat if they don’t up their coverage of women’s sport.

In her most recent Notebook, Liz Gerard worried “that our sports editors are a bit slow on the uptake with regard to the interest in women’s sport.”

For Saturday, 5th August, she noted, “of 550 columns of sport across the whole of Fleet Street, 59 were about women.”

But are sports editors simply being realistic, reflecting the fact that far more people currently watch men’s sport than women’s?

Looking at the Premier League, the average attendance last season was 40,267.

By comparison, the average attendance for the Women’s Super League was a fraction of that, a seemingly paltry 6,961.

But the noteworthy thing here is not the overall totals but the underlying trend. The Premier League figure was 0.8% up on the previous year but the Super League figure was a whopping 267% up.

Women’s sport is growing fast, at both grass roots and elite levels and it looks like the more TV coverage it gets, the bigger it will grow and the more interest it will generate.

There’s every reason to think that if news media were to invest in sustained coverage of women’s sport, it would be rewarded with audience growth.

Fingers crossed for Sunday.

You can catch James Evelegh’s regular column in the InPubWeekly newsletter, which you can register to receive here.