Matildas influence helps A-League Women smash attendance records in opening round
The excitement around women’s football in Australia reached new heights as the 2023-24 A-League Women’s season opened with remarkable attendance figures. The surge in interest can be attributed to the Matildas’ recent success in the FIFA World Cup, with the tournament’s runaway success providing a significant boost to the domestic competition.
The season kicked off in spectacular fashion courtesy of a heated F3 derby between Central Coast and Newcastle in Gosford on Saturday, featuring two red cards and a 1-0 win to the Jets. The match drew a crowd of 5,735, setting a new regular-season attendance record for the competition.
This mark was short-lived as 11,471 fans flocked to the Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium later that day, establishing a new benchmark for a domestic women’s football match as Sydney FC overwhelmed Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0.
The latter figure surpassed the 9,519 fans who watched Sydney FC’s 4-0 victory over Western United in last season’s grand final at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta.
The opening two games alone shattered the record for any round in the history of the league – a mark that had stood for nine years.
The excitement continued with the late kick-off between Perth Glory and Western United in Perth on Saturday, which along with Sunday’s matches featuring Wellington Phoenix versus Melbourne City, Adelaide United versus Canberra United and Melbourne Victory versus Brisbane Roar collectively added 9,041 attendees to the round’s total.
That made it an overall crowd tally of 26,247 to kick off a watershed A-League Women’s season.
Round 1 produced FIVE of the top 11 standalone home and away crowds in Liberty A-League history 🇦🇺🙌
— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) October 16, 2023
Earlier this year, the Matildas’ exceptional run to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup on home soil ignited immense interest in the sport. Every Matildas match sold out in stadiums across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, and the tournament witnessed record-breaking attendance and viewership figures. The semi-final against England became the most-watched television program, sports or otherwise, in Australia since 2001.
Leading up to last weekend’s season kick-off, the focus was on harnessing the World Cup’s legacy to benefit the domestic game, a task that Australian football has not always capitalised on. To further promote the sport, a free ticket scheme was introduced, allowing children under the age of 16 to attend any A-League Women’s game of their choice. ALW clubs have retained several high-profile players, while others returned to Australia, giving the league a significant boost.
Matildas player Cortnee Vine secured her future with Sydney FC after a decisive penalty shootout goal against France in the World Cup quarter-finals. Her presence was felt in Sydney FC’s 2-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday, helping draw a record crowd to Allianz Stadium.
Nick Garcia, the A-Leagues commissioner, highlighted that these attendance records are the result of years of hard work, leading to extraordinary growth for the A-League Women.
“Our plan for the FIFA Women’s World Cup started more than two years ago and today, we have three new women’s teams in the league, a full home-and-away season of 22 rounds and an unprecedented 198% growth in memberships across the league,” Garcia said.
“Playing the opening round in mostly major stadia was part of a strategy to create new experiences and connect with more fans, and we are delighted to see the round record broken on day one, in just two matches.”
The future of women’s football in Australia looks brighter than ever, with the A-League Women primed for continued growth and success.