How Arsenal Women have made Emirates Stadium home

1 March 2024 0 By Total Football News

Sign showing Arsenal's WSL attendance recordArsenal have averaged a crowd of 31,428 with more games being played at Emirates Stadium instead of the 4,500-capacity Meadow Park

Arsenal are back at Emirates Stadium in the Women’s Super League this weekend and the Gunners are close to another sell-out crowd.

They host neighbours Tottenham at 12:30 GMT on Sunday, live on BBC Two and on Friday morning there were only 166 unsold tickets.

Arsenal are hosting six of their 11 home league matches during the 2023-24 campaign at the home of the men’s side, with the others played at the 4,500 capacity Meadow Park.

They broke the WSL attendance record with the 60,160 crowd for their win against Manchester United and each of the league’s four highest attendances have occurred at the stadium.

In December, a then record 59,042 fans watched a 4-1 win over Chelsea, surpassing the previous record of 54,115 set at October’s 1-0 defeat by Liverpool in their opening home game of the season.

Arsenal have also hosted Aston Villa at Emirates Stadium this season, and will take on Leicester in April.

The Gunners’ average league attendance this season so far has been 31,428.

Games at clubs’ main stadiums have becoming increasingly regular in the WSL since the 2019 World Cup, but it is Arsenal who have found the most success.

They sold out 12,000 ‘home advantage packs’, season tickets purely for the games at Emirates Stadium.

The club’s usage of a tiered pricing structure, incentivising early purchases, has also played a part in generating impressive ticket sales.

“It’s got to be one of the best models in the UK but maybe across the world,” former England striker Ellen White told BBC’s Women’s Football Weekly podcast.

“We’ve seen the likes of Barcelona selling out but they have done it a few times and it’s not a regular thing for them. The model seems incredible.”

Creating a ‘community feel’

Arsenal midfielder Kim Little says there is now a “real community feel” around games at Emirates Stadium, with games shifting from being a showpiece for ‘big eventer’ supporters, as termed by BBC Sport research with the Women’s Sport, to a more engaged fanbase.

“After the game against United I went to one of the local pubs for some food. Normally I just have the experience of playing, so you turn up to the game,” Little told Women’s Football Weekly.

“Once you come out there’s this real community feel and there are people with Arsenal scarves in the pubs and they recognise you.

“It’s a really nice feeling. It’s creating memories and the club have done that really well.”

Gunners manager Jonas Eidevall said the community bond makes Arsenal “special”.

“We have a club where at the very top one of the ambitions is to accelerate the growth of women’s football and you can really see how that is influencing every decision,” he said. “That is very important, to start with that, to make it a real investment.

“What I think makes Arsenal special – the belonging in the community and the connection to the fans – I think it’s one of those things that if you could bottle that and sell it you would probably end up earning a lot of money.

“That’s the special circumstances and all the history coming together with the community and Arsenal that allows that.”

‘We’ve shown it’s doable’

Headline attendances are notable, but so is the consistency with which Arsenal are now drawing large crowds on a regular basis.

For Gunners manager Jonas Eidevall, it is important to find “sustainability”.

He said: “We’re not only searching for the highest, we’re searching for consistency, we’re searching for sustainability, we’re searching for creating a culture at the Emirates week-in, week-out.”

Arsenal’s usual home is Meadow Park, a 4,500 capacity stadium shared with National League men’s side Boreham Wood.

Should they move away from there and to Emirates Stadium on a permanent basis, the club need to show that there is “the want to come back”, said Little.

“We’re selling all the tickets and we’ve got people who are coming,” she added.

“I think that’s really important and it’s an important model across the game in general. We’ve shown this year that it’s doable and there’s this want for it and it’s entertaining.

“It’s recognising what’s required to get that amount of people at certain games. In general you can see there’s the want there so longer term that is the aim if we want the game to continue to grow.”