Arsenal Women head coach Jonas Eidevall believes more consideration is necessary across the Women’s Super League following this weekend’s postponements due to frozen pitches.
Chelsea hosted Liverpool for six minutes before their match at Kingsmeadow was deemed unplayable, which was followed by Brighton & Hove Albion vs Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur vs Leicester City also called off in the WSL.
In the aftermath, Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema was one of many who suggested both undersoil heating or playing at men’s stadiums to combat this issue.
“Our long-term plan is to try and be at Emirates permanently — that’s long-term,” Eidevall said.
“The way we have worked, we have not cancelled games in January, it has been other clubs. Sometimes for different reasons: the pitch, covid. But I don’t think the league is at the stage where you can have that requirement for all clubs.
“Some clubs could have the possibility to do that and that’s the difficulty when making league rules. When you’re a newly promoted team, how quickly can you meet those stadium requirements? That’s something to look into but it’s long-term.”
This is the Swede’s second season in charge and is not the first time he has dealt with January postponements.
Eidevall made his frustrations known last season as teams Arsenal faced played January signings in rearranged games that were originally meant to take place before those signings were made.
“If you look historically in January it’s a troublesome month to play on grass pitches that have no help against nature. When you’re scheduling games, you should be aware that it’s problematic.
“Then, what is the solution for that? I think it’s the difference between short-term and long-term. Short-term communication is the key. Early communication saves fans time and money for not travelling to grounds.
“It also saves us from not seeing pitches like Chelsea vs Liverpool which is bad advertising for women’s football and the WSL specifically. Long-term how do you solve that? Either you don’t schedule games in January — that’s not good commercially. The other part is how do you make games accessible in January and I don’t think that’s as easy as the demand for undersoil heating.
“You have to look at all the investments you need to make to the game and prioritise. There are so many things you’d like to invest in, in the women’s game. When you compare the cost of undersoil heating to the cost of an academy system to develop more British players into the league, I don’t think it’s easy in how you’d prioritise that money but I think our academy system is really important as well.”
Eidevall and Arsenal are laying groundwork for their long-term aims of making the Emirates a permanent home, however.
They have now sold 40,000 or more tickets in three consecutive WSL matches this season, a sign Eidevall was hoping would continue after their first against Tottenham Hotspur in September.
“Remember, it’s 51,000 sold tickets. It’s not giveaways, it’s not sold for a discounted price, it’s sold tickets. I think that’s really special because doing this, the way the club has done it, is sustainable,” he said at the time.
“It shows the interest there is for real and that investment the club has done, but also the past generations of teams have done before us to put us on this stage is phenomenal. We feel that. We want to make the most of it tomorrow so it can happen more frequently.”
(Photo: Getty Images)
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