It's about more than the big stadiums, says City's White

It's about more than the big stadiums, says City's White
By Sportsbeat

03/12/2019 at 10:03

If you want to see us playing at the Etihad again, you've got to be supporting us week in week out – that's Ellen White's message to the fans of Manchester City.

A crowd of more than 31,000 watched City beat Manchester United at the Etihad on the first day of the Barclays FA Women's Super League season and that record was smashed last month when 38,262 watched Arsenal win the North London derby at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

These headline figures are impressive but attendances on the whole often don't make for such pleasant reading, with the likes of Everton only bringing in an average of 325 fans each week.

For White, this is a worrying statistic as the England striker knows it is the attendances away from the bigger occasions that will dictate the future of the women's game.

"It's about people coming back and watching WSL games week on week, not just when we're playing at big stadiums," said White, who is on the 20-woman shortlist for this year's Ballon d’Or, the winner to be announced in Paris this evening.

"If we are getting more people to games, those in charge are more inclined to want us to play at those stadiums.

"We were really proud to play at the Etihad. The numbers were incredible and hopefully we can continue to play in front of those bigger crowds in the future."

It's been a stellar year for women's football in England, ignited by the performance of the Lionesses in the World Cup earlier this year where White finished as joint top scorer as they reached the semi-finals before crashing out to the USA.

While Phil Neville's side might have hoped for more on the pitch, the progress off the field was clear to see when 77,768 flocked to Wembley in November as the Lionesses took on Germany.

"Obviously I would have liked to have won the Golden Boot and the World Cup, but the amount of people that wanted to watch women's football exploded," said White.

"It's really exciting. Women's football is getting bigger and better and the exposure is increasing.

"To play at Wembley and score with quite a few of my family there was a dream, and the support was incredible. Hopefully that's something we can continue to grow and play at Wembley year on year."

White's attention now turns to the WSL, with her Manchester City side currently joint top with league leaders Arsenal after their 1-0 victory over Liverpool at the weekend.

But the striker knows the Gunners aren't City's only threat, with third-placed Chelsea set to be boosted by the arrival of Australian superstar Sam Kerr at the end of December – a signing which according to White, can only be positive for the English league.

"I've watched her for many years and she's a fantastic player," she added.

"She's done great things in America and it shows how strong our league is that she's wanting to come over here.

"It will be interesting to see how she withstands the English game and playing in this league.

"It's the most competitive league that we've had, so it's going to be an exciting year."

Sportsbeat 2019

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