Return of the FA WSL – Where is the action this weekend?

This weekend welcomes the beginning of the Women’s Super League. This is the second season since the big reshuffle, and it is shaping up to be the biggest yet.

Stuart Barker takes a look ahead to the opening games.

Bristol City, Manchester City and Chelsea have all moved their opening games to their main club stadiums this weekend, a decision heavily influenced by the buzz created by this summer’s Women’s World Cup.

The record crowd for domestic women’s football in England was set in 1920 when 53,000 watched the Dick Kerr Ladies against St Helens Ladies at Goodison Park.

A bit of a difference to the 5,265 that watched Brighton & Hove Albion play Arsenal at the Amex in April.

That record will be beaten at the Etihad this Saturday as the rumours are that around 25,000 tickets have already been sold. With it being the first derby since United relaunched their women’s side it will the best chance the red side of Manchester has to gain a win over the blue half.

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Last season, I was fortunate enough to see both sides in action and each set of fans will undoubtedly create an atmosphere befitting of the occasion.

I think it will be a very different spectacle at Ashton Gate. There has been well over a thousand tickets sold for the game between the new-look Bristol City and Brighton & Hove Albion.

While this is a great result for the Vixens, sorry, the Robins, you will find about three-quarters of the Landsdown Stand full and the rest of the stadium empty. While I am sure that there will be lots of enthusiasm from the crowd I would find the sea of empty seats the other side of the ground off-putting. That being said, Rome wasn’t built in a day and this is a step in the right direction.

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The Brighton and Bristol players will very much appreciate every single member of the crowd. For many, this may be their first experience of live women’s football and hopefully it will be the first of many. Who knows, maybe in the future we might see one or two of that crowd pull on a shirt for a team in the WSL after being inspired by what they see this weekend or over the season?

In London, a fierce derby will be played out between Chelsea and WSL newcomers Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The free tickets for this fixture were snapped up quickly and a big crowd is expected in SW6.

You can catch all the action this season on the new FA Player, which will be showing over 150 domestic women’s games, including Bristol v Brighton this weekend.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter @_ChuBarker

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