FA Cup

Emma Hayes calls for 'bigger push' to sell out Women's FA Cup final at Wembley

Ali Rampling
Hayes has called for a 'bigger push' to sell out Wembley for the Women's FA Cup final
Hayes has called for a 'bigger push' to sell out Wembley for the Women's FA Cup final / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Emma Hayes has called for a 'bigger push' to attract a bumper crowd for the Women's FA Cup final at Wembley, with the Chelsea boss believing the women's game should be capable of selling out the 90,000-capacity national stadium.

The Blues beat Arsenal 2-0 last weekend to book their place in the showpiece event for a second successive season - the 2020/21 final was actually delayed until December - and will face rivals Manchester City on 15 May in a repeat of this year's Continental Cup final.

Barcelona have sold out Camp Nou for two consecutive Champions League knockout stage matches against Real Madrid and Wolfsburg, and Hayes has called on women's football in England to up its advertising game in order to follow in the European champions' footsteps.

"I've said it before; Barcelona should serve as an example to us all, on and off the pitch," she said.

"What a tremendous job they've done. For us now it's a big summer for England, sell out grounds, sell out stadiums. We really have to push to fill Wembley for the FA Cup final. I think that's critical. I think there needs to be a bigger push, if I'm honest.

"We have to push the big, big games in a much bigger way. That's what I'd learn from [Barcelona]. Don't repeat what they do, we're not them, but we need to commit the right marketing to Wembley and the FA Cup final and every stadium for the Euros."

The current record attendance for the Women's FA Cup final was set back in 2018, as Chelsea beat Arsenal 3-1 in front of 45,423 people - around 35,000 short of Wembley's overall capacity.

"I think there has to be more marketing done for the cup final," Hayes added. "There needs to be even more work done - some of those things are because of limited budgets - but we should be at the point to sell Wembley out in my opinion.

"That's where I think we're at with the women's game, irrespective of the opponents, knowing what the record crowds have been, we're out of Covid.

"The goal should be to fill Wembley Stadium. I'm probably not best placed to say how, but I know the fan base is there and will want to go to that game."

Hayes' comments come in the wake of Iceland midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir criticising the choice of venues for Euro 2022 and calling used of the 4,700-capacity Academy Stadium 'embarrassing' - Iceland have already sold out their two group matches there.

"I can totally understand the comments," Hayes said. "A Euros ago we might not have been having this conversation because they don't sell out every stadium for every game. In hindsight it's easy to say we've underestimated it.

"I think what it does show and confirms is we should be thinking a little bigger in terms of the stadium attendances. We can shoot for something even bigger in the future because the women's game has arrived at that point."