By 90Min
April 09, 2019

England and Barcelona forward Toni Duggan has stated her hope that a strong World Cup performance from the Lionesses this summer will help boost domestic attendances in the Barclays FA Women's Super League next season.

Duggan recently played in front of more than 60,000 people in a much talked about women's game at Wanda Metopolitano as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid. In Italy, meanwhile, Juventus Women hosted a game at the Allianz Stadium that was attended by close to 40,000.

In England, FA Cup final attendance figures have been rising every since the showpiece event has been hosted at Wembley, climbing to 45,000 last season. But domestic league fixtures in England still struggle to attract people in the same way.

"We seem to get it right for FA Cup finals but we can't seem to for league fixtures," Duggan is quoted as saying by BBC Sport ahead of England's World Cup warm up friendly against Spain.

"It doesn't happen every single week in Spain, but it's happening a lot more and that's a positive for the women's game. We've reached an unbelievable standard at the minute. Hopefully England can have some success in the summer and we can build from there."

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Duggan left Manchester City Women to join Barcelona Femeni in 2017 and said she has already seen 'amazing strides' in terms of growth and attendances. "Hopefully it will be England next and they'll do the same for a league game," she added.

Interest in women's football in England enjoyed a spike during and in the aftermath of the last World Cup in Canada four years ago, with the Lionesses narrowly missing out on a place in the final and ultimately beating Germany to finish third.

Another strong performance this year, combined with the increased commercial backing of domestic women's football, could be another huge boost to the growing game.

England manager Phil Neville recently urged top male clubs to 'throw open' their stadiums for women's teams to match their European counterparts.


That means the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United making the Emirates Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Etihad Stadium and Old Trafford available.

Neville suggested that WSL attendances in England were at a more sustainable baseline than league fixtures in Spain or Italy, but believes that more can be done.

"What I would say is now there are some teams, the big teams, who have got to open their big stadiums and fill them. Let's blow the rest of Europe away because I think the game in this country is at a far better place than what it is in Spain or Italy," he said.

Former Chelsea and England full-back Claire Rafferty has expressed concern, however, explaining that her personal experience of playing at a bigger stadium was not a good one.

"I get the vision of selling out big stadiums but when you have a home stadium and atmosphere that suits your style of play it can jeopardise performance," Rafferty, now with West Ham, tweeted on the subject earlier this month.

"We (Chelsea) played a Champions League game at Stamford Bridge against Wolfsburg in 2016 in front of a crowd of 3,783 and it felt like we were the away team."

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