With the England u21 squad named for the Nordic Cup, we were treated to the usual behind-closed-doors sign for this well known u23 international tournament, adding to fans’ frustrations.

Georgia Eaton-Collins, called up from the u18s

Talking about growing the game in England?

When this tournament is played abroad, the games are open for all to see and the chance to see genuine talent that might light up the FIFA 2023 WWC cannot be missed.

Well, in England, “All three matches will take place at Loughborough University and will be open to invited guests only.”

If you belong to the FA’s friends and family, you can watch the game’s future superstars in action. That means around 99% of women’s football fans in England are excluded from attending.

You really wonder why these types of game are only available to a few privileged people. I have to say, I am one of those as I can probably get in as press. Or, plan B, if I ask one of the player’s family if they have a spare. I certainly find it absurd that fans have to beg players, or their family, to get a chance to watch these games.

On the same subject, I was actually surprised last Spring when I attended the u19 Elite Round at St George’s Park to see a certain group of fans had managed to sneak in. So much for security and vetting. It was also classed as behind-closed-doors.

The problem also extends to league clubs, as many of them have behind-closed-doors games in preseason. That’s a bizarre message to send: fans are not welcomed to watch games. I read one fan complaining that the team he supports played all its preseason games behind-closed-doors. There is also another team that has been doing it for years in the FA WSL.

I can understand, to a certain extent, that teams want to hide the tactical stuff they are working on, but it is a one-shot thing anyway. As soon as the first game is played, the video will be available to all the other clubs and they will be able to analyse new tactics and find ways to counter them.

It reminds me of Manchester United last season trying to hide everything before their opening game. It actually worked very well as they won by more than 10-0, but I know for a fact that DVDs of their preseason friendlies circulated, so the secrecy did not really work properly.

I can also understand why clubs would like to save money on renting a ground, stewarding etc. It is certainly easier to play a game at the training ground like Arsenal and West Ham did last week, although pictures were available afterwards on Getty Images so any trialists would have been disclosed. Saving cost for one game make senses, perhaps, but for every game or most of them.

Overall, I really don’t understand the willingness to hide things away from fans and it’sa prevalent issue in women’s football. It is the same with transfers or players’ injuries. Teams seem to think hiding the fact that a player is injured gives them a competitive advantage.

In a way it is true, if the opposition has prepared a game plan to counter the injured player’s strength. But anyone who believes that players don’t talk to their friends on other teams is delusional.

Basically, teams just don’t inform fans unlike what we see in men’s football.

It all comes down to this – giving fans information and opportunities to watch their team, do you want to or not?

England squad for the Nordic Cup

Goalkeepers: Sophie Baggaley (Bristol City), Hannah Hampton (Birmingham City)

Defenders: Georgia Eaton-Collins (University of Florida), Megan Finnigan (Everton), Gabrielle George (Everton), Esme Morgan (Everton – on loan from Manchester City), Mayumi Pacheco (Reading), Lotte Wubben-Moy (University of North Carolina)

Midfielders: Georgia Allen (Syracuse University), Niamh Charles (Liverpool), Aimee Palmer (Sheffield United – on loan from Manchester United), Connie Scofield (Birmingham City), Emily Syme (Aston Villa), Ella Toone (Manchester United)

Forwards: Rinsola Babajide (Liverpool), Ellie Brazil (Brighton & Hove Albion), Hannah Cain (Everton), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Alessia Russo (University of North Carolina), Charlie Wellings (Bristol City).

Schedule

  • v Sweden, 1pm 28 August
  • v USA, 1pm 30 August
  • v Norway, 1pm 2 Sep