Women’s Continental League Cup: ‘Broadcast matches live as standard’, says Arsenal boss

The rights to broadcast coverage of the Women’s Super League from 2021 to 2022 have recently been tendered

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro has called for more coverage of women’s football, after their League Cup game against Chelsea was not shown live.

Covid-19 rules mean fans cannot attend elite football matches in England.

But many fans were frustrated they couldn’t watch from home on Wednesday, with most of the 11 group stage games unavailable online.

“The more women’s football we have on TV, the more we expose the great sport that it is,” Montemurro said.

“All games must be streamed. [Our game] was a great football game. It should be normal for these games to be shown on TV.”

The Gunners were beaten 4-1 by holders Chelsea at Kingsmeadow in a repeat of last season’s final, attended by a competition record crowd of 6,743 in Nottingham in February.

While they had to play without crowds, men’s professional clubs offered fans the option to pay to watch matches online, if they weren’t selected for a live TV broadcast.

In the Women’s Super League, all matches can be watched live on the Football Association’s free FA Player platform, and this season the service has – for the first time – highlighted all 11 matches in the Wednesday’s Continental League Cup groups available from Thursday.

But clubs have had the decision whether or not to broadcast their team’s matches on their own live websites, as there is no broadcast agreement in place for the competition until the final stages, which will be on BT Sports.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes told The Guardian: “I know for the fans not being able to watch must have been hugely frustrating.

“All I can say is that Chelsea are more determined than ever to deliver as much as they can and I will certainly be sure to push the club to value every game.”

“Midweek games favor professional teams”

The League Cup pits full-time WSL sides against part-time Championship sides, initially in six round-robin regional groups.

Wednesday’s opening matches saw all four second-tier sides who were away from the top flight suffer defeats, and some part-time sides found traveling for midweek away matches presented challenges.

Bristol City Women vs London Bees
The London Bees (in white) completed a 260 mile round trip for their game against Bristol City

The London Bees were unable to field their strongest side and were only able to name five substitutes for their 7.30pm BST kick-off against Bristol City at Bath, which they lost 4-0.

Bees boss Lee Burch told BBC Sport: “I don’t understand why professional and semi-professional teams are playing each other in midweek in the cup.

“If you play there at the weekend it’s a bit more balanced. In the middle of the week it’s overwhelmingly in their favor for the latter part of the game.

“We had to leave our pitch today at 2:00 p.m. so the girls had to take the day off. We had two players who couldn’t leave work to play tonight.

“Our babysitter Sarah Quantrill will be home at 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. and then go to work. Those are the sacrifices the girls make.”

Burch’s side finished fifth in the Championship last season, ranking them 17th among women’s clubs in England.


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