The last week of action at the Women’s World Cup has been extraordinary to watch, and only a tad bittersweet if you were hoping to support the Reds in their international games. This becomes an even harder pill to swallow when you realise that every day of action has seen most of our rivals well represented.
Manchester United will be cheering on the likes of Kirsty Smith, Jackie Groenen, and Liverpool’s own (and former Red) Alex Greenwood. Chelsea are watching on while Erin Cuthbert, Maren Mjelde, Maria Thorisdottir, Ji So-yun, and Fran Kirby take centre-stage for their respective countries. Arsenal have a representative in France, Germany, England, and Scotland, and several in the Netherlands. Half the England squad play for Manchester City, it feels like.
And that’s of course saying nothing about all the former Reds who left the club for better training facilities, resources, and pay (we miss you, Shanice van der Sanden).
There’s enough to get angry about in terms of what Liverpool have failed to do over the past few years to help the women’s game flourish (and Jordan has covered it in wonderful detail elsewhere) and there has to be a club-wide reckoning about it. At the same time, the club and management (FSG, pay attention!) have to be willing to learn from our rivals to understand what it’ll take to make Liverpool a place star players want to come and stay.
Here’s a few things our rivals have done to invest in their women’s sides:
- Manchester City started a campaign around the idea of ‘same game, same club’ in 2018 and ...put their mouth where their mouth is... by merging the club’s twitter accounts so all tweets came from the @ManCity account. The end result? City players like Steph Houghton are now household names, even before they put on their country’s jerseys. Liverpool’s official Twitter account highlighting the women’s side would be a stellar way to drive up recognition of the women’s side and everything they are doing during the FAWSL season. And that probably wouldn’t hurt when national teams begin the selection process again.
- City also makes sure that the women’s team have the same medical support, facilities, and access to data analytics as the men’s side. We know that data played a huge role in the the success of Liverpool’s men’s side. It would be incredible to see the same data analytics become part of the women’s season.
- Manchester United’s women’s side was non-existent until last year, but once they received their license by the English Football Association, new coach Casey Stoney (also a former Liverpool player) was able to lure some of the best talents in England with the promise of resources and an initial investment of £5m. That investment is probably the reason star players like Greenwood and Smith are proud to represent a brand new second-division side.
It all comes down to increasing investment and improving recognition. Building recognition, through the increased social media presences and more thorough ties into the men’s teams — as unfortunate as that one aspect may sound — have only been shown to benefit the women’s teams and the players themselves. It’s even being proven right before our eyes with this current World Cup. The easiest way to start that process? Increase investment, in social media and marketing and the sponsorship deals and fans will come.
Until Liverpool can commit to doing both, the women’s side will continue to suffer.