Chelsea boss Emma Hayes has called for a bigger push to sell out Wembley for the Women’s FA Cup final after Barcelona attracted a record-breaking crowd of 91,553 earlier this season.
The Catalans could break that record again when they play Wolfsburg at the Nou Camp tonight. But the record crowd for a women’s FA Cup final stands at 45,423 while 40,942 attended December’s delayed final, which saw Chelsea defeat Arsenal 3-0.
The Blues will look to retain their trophy when they play Manchester City on May 15 and Hayes believes there needs to be a better marketing campaign to ensure the game takes place in front of a packed out stadium.
Emma Hayes has called on the English game to follow the example set by Barcelona
‘Barcelona should serve as an example to us all, on and off the pitch. What a tremendous job they’ve done. I think for us it’s now a big summer, for England, to sell out grounds, sell out stadiums.
‘I really think we have to push to fill Wembley for the FA Cup final. I think that’s critical. I think there needs to be a bigger push if I’m honest. We don’t have members like Barcelona do, so they’re socios buying tickets makes things a little bit easier for them, but what a committed fan base they have.
‘For us, we have to push the big, big games in a much bigger way. I think we need to commit a lot of the right marketing to fill Wembley and obviously every stadium for the Euros.’
Chelsea beat Arsenal at a nowhere-near full Wembley to win the FA Cup last year
When asked what more could be done to help boost the attendance at Wembley, Hayes added: ‘I think there needs to be more marketing done for the Cup final. I think it’s great they’re going to advertise on BBC but I think there probably needs to be even more work done. Some of those things are because of limited budgets.
‘We should be at the point to sell Wembley out, in my opinion. That’s where I think we’re at in the women’s game. I think, irrespective of the opponents, knowing what the record crowds have been, we’re out of Covid, I think the goal should be to fill Wembley stadium.
‘I’m probably not best placed to say how, but I know that the fan base is there and there will be a lot of people that will want to go to that game.’
The Chelsea manager has called for more ‘marketing’ to ensure a sold out Final next month
Hayes’ comments come after Iceland midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir slammed some of the venues chosen to host games at this summer’s Women’s Euros in England. Iceland will play two games at Manchester City’s Academy Stadium, which has a seated capacity of just 4,700. Both of Iceland’s games at City’s stadium have sold out.
Gunnarsdottir said: ‘It’s shocking. Playing in England there are so many stadiums and we have a training ground from City, taking what, 4,000 spectators.
‘It’s embarrassing. It’s not the respect [we deserve]. Watch women’s football today, they are filling out the stadiums. You see Barcelona and Madrid, 95,000 watching the game [at Camp Nou]. They [Euros organisers] are not prepared that we will sell more tickets than 4,000.
A record 91,000 people watched Barcelona’s women’s side dismantle Real Madrid in Europe
‘It’s disrespectful towards women’s football because it’s so much bigger than people think. You think women’s football is getting two steps ahead but then something comes up like that it’s just a step back.’
Hayes sympathised with the Iceland international but acknowledged that past tournaments have not always sold out every match. ‘I can totally understand Gunnarsdottir’s comments,’ Hayes said.
‘A Euros ago, we might not be having this conversation because some, and I’ve travelled around and watched a lot of Euros and World Cups, don’t sell out every stadium for every game.
Emma Hayes said she sympathised with Iceland player Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir over the issue
‘In hindsight it’s easy to say we’ve underestimated it. I think what it does show, and confirms, is that we should be thinking a little bigger in terms of the stadium attendances and I think we just have to take on board those comments and reflect that maybe we can shoot for something even bigger in the future because the women’s game has arrived at that point I think.’
Earlier this week, Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams joined the battle to buy Chelsea by pledging to commit funds to the bid fronted by Sir Martin Broughton.
When asked whether she would like to meet Hamilton and Williams, Hayes said: ‘Sure, they’re amazing at what they do.
‘Erin [Cuthbert] and Sam [Kerr] have turned me into F1 fans. I watched that series Drive to Survive, I love it, I’m obsessed with it. Yeah, I’d love to meet Lewis Hamilton. But Serena, what more can we say? She’s brilliant.
Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams are prepared to pledge £10million to Sir Martin Broughton’s bid to buy Chelsea
‘In terms of the ownership of the club, as long as we’ve got the best custodians possible, and as I’ve said many times, let’s leave the club to get on with doing their due diligence and getting that right.’
Hayes, who said she has not met any of the prospective bidders, insisted her and her players have been unaffected by the on-going process.
‘Nothing has changed, we were here before Roman Abramovic, we’ll be here after Roman Abramovic.’