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Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge to host historic Women's Super League openers

Megan Campbell will fly the Irish flag in Manchester, while all tickets are free to the London derby.

Irish eye: Man City's Ireland star Megan Campbell.
Irish eye: Man City's Ireland star Megan Campbell.
Image: Martin Rickett

WITH WOMEN’S FOOTBALL on a high around the globe, it has been announced today that the Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge will host historic Women’s Super League [WSL] openers in September.

The Etihad will play host to the first-ever WSL Manchester Derby, as the two sides face off for the first time in the English top flight on Saturday 7 September [KO 3pm].

Nick Cushing’s cup-double winning City will welcome Casey Stoney’s newly-promoted Championship winners to the home of the Premier League title holders, with kids (up to three U16s) welcome free of charge.

This comes as the second time City’s women’s team will play in the 55,000 capacity Etihad, their first appearance there a 1-0 win over Everton in 2014.

“We are all very excited to play our first home game of the season at the Etihad Stadium and, better yet, in a Manchester Derby,” City and England World Cup captain Steph Houghton said.

“Big games like this are the ones you want to be in as a player and every one of us Manchester City players is looking forward to getting on that pitch and giving you all a performance to be proud of.”

There’ll be several other 2019 World Cup stars lining out on the day — Lionesses in particular — while City defender and Drogheda native Megan Campbell will be flying the flag for Ireland.

Likewise, in London the following day, there’ll be an abundance of talent on show as Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur get their WSL season underway with a tasty derby at Stamford Bridge.

11 World Cup stars will be on show there, with the Sunday 8 September clash [KO 12.30pm] free of charge to the entire public. The Blues have previously played in the Champions League at the Bridge.

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That weekend is an international break for men’s Premier League fixtures, but FA director of the women’s professional game, Kelly Simmons, says that several matches will be double-headers with their male counterparts next season, building on the momentum of the World Cup in France.

chelsea Source: Chelsea FC.

Double headers “will be tried,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live yesterday, and there will be a ‘series’ of stand-alone games at grounds that host men’s teams.

“Our job now is to make sure we capitalise on the momentum from the Women’s World Cup and build audiences and build attendances,” Simmons noted.

“I think one of the things the World Cup has done has made our players household names, and now people can follow them back at their clubs.

We know there’s a massive potential audience of fans coming across from the men’s game and the men’s clubs. We’re seeing very much this ‘one club ethos’.

She added: “There’s a massive chance for the game to pull those across this season with the Women’s Super League and get more people coming to games and watching games on television.

“The stand-alone games in the men’s stadiums, we’ve already seen when we’ve done that before a big uplift in numbers coming to the games.”

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Emma Duffy

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