The news that the Arsenal Ladies’ youth teams cup finals will be both played at St George’s Park means no Arsenal fans will be allowed to see the u17 and the Development teams play in their respective finals against United and Sheffield.
Why the FA deems the fans as not important enough to be granted access to two cup finals is just puzzling but it seems to be ingrained in English women’s football mentality.
The number of England u15, u16, u17, u19, u20 and u23 games played behind closed doors at home compared to the ones opened to fans is astonishing. There kind of a blackout of news on those matches as if they were ghost games that did not exist.
I have attended a few in the past sometimes uninvited and I barely managed not to get kicked out of the ground back in 2010. Nowadays, the security is so tight that you would not be able to go through the area without being stopped by a guard ready to eject you from the ground.
That’s what happened to me last year at Bisham Abbey, when I was intercepted by security who were eager to throw me out and actually ended up really disappointed when they found out I was invited and cleared to watch the game.
I also attended a behind closed doors game at St George’s Park last year in the UEFA u16 development tournament, which shows that if you know the right people you will get in. Why fans need to be connected to people in the game just to attend a match is just extraordinary and shocking.
The FA WSL clubs are not exempt from criticism either, the number of pre-season games that the FA WSL 1 and 2 sides have played behind closed doors is staggering. You end up seeing on social media that there has been a friendly organized and sometimes you can even know the results as the players tend to tweet it if they won the game.
You wonder if they want to keep any small competitive advantage they have under wraps before the season starts. Such a strange state of mind from those football teams.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited by a team’s manager and assistant manager to watch their team play a friendly against an FA WSL side. I am not sure if that game was deemed behind closed doors as about 200 people if not more were sitting in the main stand and at least an 100 were watching from the sidelines.
As usual, I was live tweeting the game, as was a local paper, and many fans in the ground. To my disbelief, the FA WSL club staffer filming the game forced me to delete all my tweets regarding the game.
That person said I was not allowed to tweet anything as I was not representing anyone in official function. Therefore, I was not supposed to tweet anything regarding their team line-up, tactics, chances created or goals.
That person also added that I was disrespecting their team and it went on and on for a while. I was more or less being accused of being a spy (probably for the Arsenal as I am well known as a hardcore Gunner).
Let’s be serious here, if I really wanted to spy on that team for another FA WSL side, destroying my tweets was not really enough. All I needed to do is get the DVD of the game as filmed by the FA WSL opposition on the day and send it to any FA WSL team wanting a copy.
Did I do it? No, because no one asked me to send them any information. I was just minding my own business watching a game of football and tweeting about it as many do.
Now, I am not interested in being blacklisted by an FA WSL team and end up in trouble with a potential stadium ban under my nose, as that would mean missing an Arsenal away game during the season, so I just deleted my tweets and took my twitter down for the day.
It is quite clear that I am not really welcomed at that team’s ground anymore and, therefore, my visit there during the season will be short and sweet. Into the ground a minute before kick-off and out as soon as the final whistle is blown, no interaction with players post game for me.
Taking the fans out of the equation by not allowing them to attend games is such a strange attitude and is clearly a bizzare way to try to grow the game, but that culture of secrecy still has a long way to go before it will disappear of women’s football.