England and Arsenal star White’s call for change

Ellen White
Ellen White

ARSENAL striker Ellen White believes double-header matches combined with Barclays Premier League games could be one way to gain a greater profile for the women’s game.

The second season of Women’s Super League was launched in London last week with a round table discussion about how to generate greater coverage.

And the Aylesbury footballer has raised eyebrows with her novel idea to stage women’s matches before big games such as the Arsenal vs Machester City game at the Emirates on Sunday.

England coach Hope Powell expressed her concern that, as with most major tournament years, once the Olympics are at an end interest will fade away.

Kelly Simmons, the FA’s head of national game, claimed she did not understand why women’s football has gained such little prominence given the range of impressive statistics that have been put forward.

Among these are confirmation that attendances at WSL matches rose by 600 per cent last year, viewing figures for matches broadcast on ESPN were on a par with the Scottish Premier League, social media channels now attract more than 80,000 followers and that last year’s Women’s World Cup was the most Tweeted-about event in the world.

White believes smart thinking is required.

In an eight-team league that includes Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton, the three-time Bucks Herald Sports Personality of the Month award winner feels there is merit in the idea of double-headers, with the women’s game being played either before or after a Premier League match.

“If we could have our game before a main one at the Emirates we could potentially get massive crowds,” said White.

“Even if it was afterwards, I am sure people would stay on.

“We wouldn’t be able to do it all the time but little things like that would help to promote the game. The supporters would be able to see it is a good game to watch.”

White, who is hoping to be part of the Great Britain Olympic squad later this year, reacted angrily on stage when it was suggested women’s football pales in comparison with the skills exhibited by Barcelona in the Nou Camp last night.

“It is so frustrating,” she said.

“You do get rubbish men’s matches as well. And what is the point of comparing us with Barcelona? No team in the Premier League is as good as Barcelona.

“I am not going to cry because I am not as good as Lionel Messi.

You strive to be better but Barcelona are a whole different thing.

“Men’s football is always going to be in the press, whether it is good or bad,” she said.

“Maybe women’s football could replace some of those stories.

“Just being there is going to help us. Sometimes negative press is good press.

“The issue over there being no women on the shortlist for Sports Personality of the Year is an example. It was not a good thing but it propelled women’s sport into the spotlight, which was great,” she added.