Women’s Continental League Cup: ‘Stream games live as standard’, says Arsenal boss

Broadcast rights for Women’s Super League coverage from 2021-22 were recently put out to tender

Arsenal boss Joe Montemurro has called for more broadcast coverage of women’s football, after their League Cup game against Chelsea was not streamed live.

Covid-19 rules mean fans cannot attend elite football matches in England.

But many supporters were frustrated they could not watch from home on Wednesday, with most of the 11 group stage games not available online.

“The more we have women’s football on television the more we expose the great sport that it is,” Montemurro said.

“All games should be streamed. [Our game] was a great footballing match. It should be as standard, that these games are shown on television.”

The Gunners were beaten 4-1 by holders Chelsea at Kingsmeadow in a repeat of last season’s final, which was attended by a competition-record crowd of 6,743 in Nottingham in February.

While they have had to play without crowds present, men’s professional clubs have been offering fans a chance to pay to watch matches online, if they have not been selected for live television broadcast.

In the Women’s Super League, all games are available to watch live on the Football Association’s free FA Player platform, and this season the service has – for the first time – made highlights of all 11 of Wednesday’s Continental League Cup group-stage games available from Thursday.

But clubs were given the decision of whether or not to show their team’s matches on their own websites live, as there is no broadcast agreement in place for the competition until the latter stages, which will be on BT Sport.

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes told the Guardian: “I know for fans not being able to watch must have been extremely frustrating.

“All I can say is Chelsea are as committed as ever to providing as much as they can and I certainly will be making sure I push the club to value every single game.”

‘Midweek games favour professional sides’

The League Cup pits full-time WSL and part-time Championship teams against each other, initially in six round-robin regional groups.

Wednesday’s opening games saw all four of the second-tier sides who were away to top-flight opposition suffer defeats, and some part-time teams have found travelling for midweek away games presents challenges.

Bristol City Women v London Bees
London Bees (in white) made a 260-mile round trip for their game against Bristol City

London Bees were unable to field their strongest side and could only name five substitutes for their away 19:30 BST kick-off against Bristol City in Bath, which they lost 4-0.

Bees boss Lee Burch told BBC Sport: “I don’t understand why pro sides and semi-pro sides play each other midweek in the cup.

“If you play it on a weekend, it’s a bit more of an even keel. Midweek, it’s massively in their favour for the last part of the game.

“We had to leave from our home ground today at 14:00 so the girls have had to take the day off work. We had two players who couldn’t get off work to play tonight.

“Our goalkeeper Sarah Quantrill will get home at 03:00 or 04:00 and then go to work. These are the sacrifices the girls make.”

Burch’s side finished fifth in the Championship last season, ranking them as England’s 17th highest women’s club.

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