England Women face Denmark in the third game of their ‘Road to France’ series at The Banks’s Stadium in Walsall this afternoon.
The Lionesses have already taken on Canada and Spain in warm-up matches for next month’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and another stern test is expected in The Midlands.
England sold out well in advance of their fixture against Canada at Manchester City’s 7,000-capacity Academy Stadium while over 13,000 were in attendance for the 2-1 victory over Spain at Swindon Town’s County Ground.
The third game brings another huge crowd and another sell-out with a near-11,300 fans set to swell Walsall’s Banks’s Stadium.
With all three games having either sold out or stadiums being close to full capacity, there is an argument that the demand to watch the Lionesses in these warm-up matches is significantly greater than the capacities of some of the venues selected. More than 55,000 fans could have attended fixtures in the ‘Road to France’ series by the time that England close their warm-up campaign against New Zealand in Brighton next weekend.
Watching women’s international football is gaining more and more appeal and the next step could see the Lionesses packing out Sky Bet Championship and some English Premier League stadiums for home fixtures, particularly if they have a successful FIFA Women’s World Cup. The Football Association will need to plan carefully as it is important not to be turning fans away due to games selling out, particularly those fans who have developed relatively new interests in the women’s game whose support can help add growth going forward.
In a week which has seen record numbers of media representatives descend upon St George’s Park for an England media day, the spotlight is on Phil Neville and his squad more than ever before and you just wonder whether this afternoon could be the last time in which England play at a stadium the size of The Banks’s Stadium with bigger venues possibly on the horizon.