The first in-depth survey of fans of women’s football in England has found widespread satisfaction with the product but criticism over the cost.
The Football Supporters Association spoke with 2,156 fans of the game, three-quarters of whom had attended a women’s football match over the previous season. It found that the enthusiasms and complaints of fans were consistent with those in the men’s game but with a few key differences.
While supporters were not asked directly whether they enjoyed what they were watching, other indicators suggested they were happy: 72% of respondents said there was a vibrant fan culture at their club, while more than three-quarters (77%) said tickets were either good or very good value for money. Meanwhile, 89.5% of people agreed with the statement: “I feel safe attending women’s football.”
In the list of complaints, however, there was a consistent message: 37% of respondents listed the cost of travel (and the distance required to travel to a match) as a problem, making it the most commonly-held issue among fans. There were also complaints over the price of merchandise, with only a third believing it to be good value for money, while almost half (45.3%) said that the cost of watching women’s football on TV had stopped them from tuning in.
The cost of being a fan was not the only issue to overlap with concerns among supporters of the men’s game – only 5.8% of those questioned strongly agreed that refereeing was of the required standard; 77.3% also said that TV had too much say in deciding kick-off times. It should also be noted that 52.2% of those surveyed were male.
In terms of developing the game, however, two strong points of divergence emerged among fans. The first (held by 73%) was that pre-qualifying matches should be introduced at international level, perhaps inspired by recent drubbings handed out by the Lionesses. Secondly, 89.4% of supporters believe football should see greater financial redistribution from the men’s to the women’s game.