Hayes wants regular big stadium games as Chelsea prepare for Stamford Bridge homecoming | OneFootball

Hayes wants regular big stadium games as Chelsea prepare for Stamford Bridge homecoming

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FAWSL Full-Time

Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has called for regular games to be scheduled at big stadiums ahead of The Blues’ Stamford Bridge return next month.

The South West Londoners return to SW6 for the first time since September 2019 when they face West Ham United at Stamford Bridge on 11 September 2022.

When speaking in a recent media session celebrating a decade in charge of The Blues, Hayes called for the number of Barclays Women’s Super League games staged in big stadiums to be increased as clubs look to grow the profiles of their women’s teams, although she believes that complete moves to men’s stadiums are not yet on the cards.

“Ideally, we kick-off with big blockbuster games to kick on with the momentum of the summer, some of us are doing that which I think is critical,” Hayes said. “I think it’s important that we try to establish these big stadium events as regular things, rather than just once a year, ideally move towards a six or eight-game situation and then I still think there is work to be done.

“I don’t think it’s as straightforward as just leaving our grounds and going into the men’s stadiums, I’m too strategic to think about it like that. I think we have to see realistically where that growth will be again this year. I do think this will be the year that clubs will start to prepare for the next step in our growth, for two years time, etc.

“Let’s hope we get solid numbers, I’m sure we will. I don’t know if they’ll all be sellouts but I think they’ll be much more solid numbers than they were 12 months ago and they won’t be giveaways and that, for me, is the big difference, they’ll be paid for tickets.”

Chelsea have sold out of season tickets for the second season running at their 4,850-capacity Kingsmeadow home. Hayes said that initial discussions have taken place regarding creating a facility to re-sell the tickets of those fans who are unable to attend to ensure that every available seat is used.

She said “I have already had that conversation. For me, my biggest issue is if you sell season tickets out and they don’t come and you have a no-show. I mentioned this a week ago and said that it’d be a great idea if we had an oversell – at least if we know where we have got a no-show, we could put the tickets on general sale because I don’t want to go backwards in that.

“In terms of the next steps, I think every club will be working towards that now and working out what that looks like but if anyone thinks that we are going to go from 2,000 to 20,000 overnight, I don’t believe that will be the case, I still think it will be a gradual build. There will be some big events like England games, cup finals, signature events but I still think that you’ve got to keep stabilising the sport with regular slots, become the regular feature that we have become in the calendar and work towards the gradual increases that I think will cause some of us to build bigger stadiums and move out of them.”

Tickets for Chelsea’s opening league fixture of the season against West Ham United remain on general sale. To purchase tickets for The Blues’ Stamford Bridge return, please click here.

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