Arsenal and Chelsea Women’s clash in the Continental Tyres Cup (the women’s equivalent to the Carabao Cup) takes place later today and the London clash will not be available to fans after broadcasters have opted not to televise the game.
The decision comes as a major shock to supporters and has led to rage towards television broadcasters on Twitter. This farcical decision highlights the gap between men’s and women’s football and serves a reality check for the latter.
Steve Fairclough, former football reporter for the Birmingham Post and launch editor of Football Collector, said: “The decision not to broadcast a major cup tie between two of England’s best women’s football teams highlights the lack of TV funding in the women’s game. WSL broadcast rights have been free to the BBC, and subsequently BT, since 2011 but that is likely to change from the 2021-22 season onwards. In the meantime, whilst the profile of women’s football is arguably higher than ever, it will probably need an injection of TV money to grow further. The drawback is that could put all the action behind a subscription only viewing platform so, potentially, less people will see it. The short-term solution should be to make all matches free to view, even if that means all clubs offering streaming services via their apps and websites.”
The derby, which is set to be played at Kingsmeadow, has served to be arguably the most thrilling fixture in England in recent years. A cluster of goal-fests in previous matches makes the tie as exciting as it gets on paper; only for the tie to be removed from coverage for fans all over the world.
Mia Eriksson, social media and communication manager at All Things Chelsea, a Chelsea FC publication, said: “I find it very tragic that there will be 22 world-class players on the pitch tomorrow night at Kingsmeadow and we won’t be able to see it. I think it’s sad for the players, for the fans and for the game itself. It’s not just any game; it’s a London derby, It’s Chelsea vs Arsenal. This is poor and a real shame. And at least, Chelsea WFC could give us an explanation to why a livestream isn’t possible. But no, they stay silent and acting like nothing. That’s disrespectful towards their supporters and their fans.”
Fans have called upon their respective clubs to rectify this decision. Moreover, TV broadcasters such as BT Sport have been at the end of severe criticism for not giving this game the proper platform that it deserves.