Everton’s Gabby George is hoping more fans will come to see the women’s game this season ahead of the first Merseyside derby in nearly three years in the Women’s Super League this weekend.
The WSL has seen renewed interest after England won the European Championship on home soil in the summer, with clubs set to play in bigger stadiums this season after reporting record ticket sales.
This weekend, the Merseyside Derby between Liverpool and Everton will be played at Anfield, while Arsenal sold a record 50,000 tickets for their game against Tottenham at the Emirates on Saturday – live on talkSPORT.
On top of that, Manchester United will face Aston Villa at Old Trafford in December, while Chelsea are also set to play at Stamford Bridge at some point this season.
Everton’s George hopes it is not a one-off event and says getting more fans into the stadiums is vital for the long-term future of women’s football.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, George said: “I think it’s really important to have more butts in the seats and I think the Euro girls have done an amazing job of showing how much the women’s football can be good.
“I think bringing him home will hopefully allow us to increase the number of spectators at games, whether on our regular ground or in bigger stadiums. First of all we have to start filling our usual stadiums and hopefully we will have more and more fans and that will then take care of itself when we come to play in the bigger stadiums.
“When I first came into the game it was literally nowhere to be found and now it’s everywhere. I was going to training today and in Manchester there was a big billboard on the women’s football and [the season] departure.
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“I think it’s very visual and I think we just have to keep developing that aspect and get more footfall and make it inspiring for the next generation.”
Jurgen Klopp has challenged Liverpool fans to ensure this weekend’s game against Everton is sold out, but George won’t be fazed by the atmosphere hosting the Toffees that day.
The defender – whose cousin is Nottingham Forest midfielder Jesse Lingard – knows what it takes to be on the winning side at Anfield after being part of the Everton side that lost 1-0 in the last Merseyside derby in the WSL between the two. sides in November 2019.
It has been a summer of change, however, for Everton after a disappointing campaign last season with a new head coach now in charge in Brian Sorensen and ten new signings also through the door.
However, the Toffees lost experienced Danielle Turner and Simone Magill to Aston Villa in the summer as well as number one Sandy MacIver to Manchester City and George revealed the team had highlighted the importance of the Merseyside derby to their news recruits.
“It’s exciting that Liverpool are back in this league and giving us these games,” the 25-year-old continued.
“I think everyone knows that Liverpool and Everton are great clubs and we should be competing on the biggest stages against each other and obviously now that can happen. So we want to make this an exciting game for everyone. to watch and hopefully one that everyone will remember.
“We have a lot of new players this season who probably haven’t featured in a Merseyside derby, so we reiterated how important that is not just for the club, but for the fans.
“These are games the fans want to play against each other and I think as players the club means a lot to us so we want to go out there and show what the club have done and hopefully we we will be able to reimburse the fans for all their home and away support.
Everton have something to prove after finishing in tenth place last season, which was seen as a hugely disappointing campaign for a club that had battled for the last Champions League spot in previous years.
The Toffees sacked Willie Kirk after just five games last season and his replacement Jean Luc-Vasseur didn’t last much longer, as he was sacked in February after just ten games in dugout.
George, however, is confident Everton now have the right manager in Sorenson, who signed a two-year deal in the summer after impressing with Danish side Fortuna Hjorring.
“He’s very knowledgeable,” George concluded.
“He knows the game inside out and he knows what he wants and I think he makes that clear to us. That’s probably the most I’ve learned in a long time and we keep learning day by day.
“I think what’s good about him is his communication. He gets straight to the point, that’s what a lot of players want.
Gabby George was speaking courtesy of the Everton FC Stake sponsors. 18+ Please gamble responsibly. BeGambleAware.org.
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