Averaging in excess of 53k fans at Emirates Stadium, is it the right time for Arsenal Women to make the move permanent?

More than sixty-thousand fans flooded through the turnstiles at Emirates Stadium on Sunday, eagerly anticipating a nail-biting North London Derby clash after Arsenal fell to a slender defeat against Tottenham last December.

Before the commencement of the 2023/24 season, the Gunners had achieved a sellout crowd in N5 just once – as they welcomed VfL Wolfsburg to Emirates Stadium for the second leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinal.

This season has brought about rapid change in women’s football, with a dramatic upturn in interest following England’s impressive performances at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Arsenal committed to hosting five Barclays Women’s Super League fixtures at Emirates Stadium, before then adding a sixth date towards the end of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

It is a move that has certainly paid off for the North London side. With the first five matches in N5 now completed, the Gunners have an average attendance, across both the Emirates Stadium and the smaller Meadow Park that they share with Boreham Wood FC, that is greater than ten Premier League clubs.

Arsenal’s average attendance for all matches in the Barclays Women’s Super League this season now sits at 35,006 – but when solely taking into account fixtures held at Emirates Stadium, that number rises to 53,839. That figure would place them sixth when compared to average attendances in the Premier League, sandwiched between Liverpool and Manchester City.

It is a figure that would have been nothing short of unfathomable just twelve months ago. The Gunners staged three league fixtures at Emirates Stadium throughout the 2023/24 campaign, drawing an average attendance to each match of 44,950.

Arsenal’s ability to draw a substantially higher average crowd, and on more occasions, highlights the demand for fixtures to be held at Emirates Stadium. Meadow Park is thirty minutes outside of Central London – and makes commuting an unwanted chore for the vast majority of the Arsenal fanbase.

Embed from Getty Images

Emirates Stadium has the ability to place women’s football on the platform is so dearly deserves – but making the move on a permanent basis has risks. Arsenal Women have called Meadow Park their home for more than thirty years, and suddenly upping sticks would undoubtedly alienate a proportion of local fans who perhaps would not be able to, or could not afford to, commute to N5.

A number of potential solutions have been discussed in recent months, including the prospect of moving all Barclays Women’s Super League and any potential UEFA Women’s Champions League fixtures to Emirates Stadium – while keeping Conti Cup and Adobe Women’s FA Cup fixtures at Meadow Park.

Arsenal Women deserve a stadium that allows them to perform at the highest level, in front of the biggest crowds – but when Borehamwood is the club’s historic home, there are fine margins for error as the club contemplate their next steps.