Manchester United have created a stir in women’s football since making the overdue decision to reform a first-team squad in 2018.
The fledgling team immediately attracted loyal and vocal support, many of whom were existing fans of the men’s side and largely new to the women’s game.
United’s lure was clear from the beginning when nearly 5,000 fans attended Leigh Sports Village for the club’s very first competitive home game against Reading in the Continental Cup.
As a second tier team in the Women’s Championship during that debut 2018/19 season, they were consistently getting crowds that far surpassed numbers many WSL clubs were recording, often in excess of 2,000 even against opposition not considered glamorous.
When United lifted the Championship trophy after the final game of the season against Lewes in May 2019, more than 3,700 were at Leigh to see it.
That momentum carried over to the WSL in 2019/20 and United enjoyed two of their best home crowds in the early weeks of the season with the visits of Arsenal and Liverpool. Even a game on a freezing January day against Bristol City brought in more than 2,000 fans.
But the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic midway through 2019/20 and the subsequent cancellation of the season was ultimately quite damaging. The momentum from United's successful 2018/19 campaign, further stoked by England’s run to the 2019 World Cup semi-finals, was halted.
An entire season behind closed doors in 2020/21, including one fixture played at a hauntingly deserted Old Trafford, left attendance figures down when fans could return in 2021/22. Suddenly, only the big games against Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were getting the good numbers.
That problem wasn’t exclusive to United, although a first game in front of fans at Old Trafford did set the highest WSL attendance for the 2021/22 season at over 20,000. Supporters also turned out in better numbers of the final home game of the campaign against West Ham back at Leigh.
Euro 2022 was always expected to have a positive impact on WSL attendances and, like many clubs, United experienced that when the club record for a game specifically at Leigh was substantially bettered with the visit of Reading at the start of 2022/23.
Man Utd Women's biggest attendances
- 30,196 vs Aston Villa, 3 December 2022 - WSL*
- 20,241 vs Everton, 27 March 2022 - WSL*
- 7,666 vs Liverpool, 15 January 2023 - WSL
- 6,186 vs Chelsea, 6 November 2022 - WSL
- 5,315 vs Reading, 17 September 2022 - WSL
- 4,835 vs Reading, 25 August 2018 - Continental Cup
- 4,042 vs Man City, 20 October 2019 - Continental Cup
- 3,797 vs Man City, 9 October 2021 - WSL
- 3,702 vs Lewes, 11 May 2019 - Women’s Championship
- 3,685 vs Brighton, 16 October 2022 - WSL
- 2,831 vs Liverpool, 28 September 2019 - WSL
- 2,546 vs West Ham, 1 May 2022 - WSL
- 2,530 vs Arsenal, 16 September 2019 - WSL
- 2,369 vs Man City, 17 November 2021 - Continental Cup
- 2,367 vs Tottenham, 4 November 2018 - Women’s Championship
- 2,349 vs Charlton, 14 October 2018 - Women’s Championship
- 2,335 vs Man City, 27 February 2022 - Women’s FA Cup
- 2,244 vs Durham, 30 September 2018 - Women’s Championship
- 2,197 vs Chelsea, 26 September 2021 - WSL
- 2,186 vs Arsenal, 21 November 2021 - WSL
- 2,112 vs Crystal Palace, 20 April 2019 - Women’s Championship
- 2,111 vs Reading, 3 September 2021 - WSL
- 2,021 vs Bristol City, 5 January 2020 - WSL
- 2,003 vs Sheffield United, 20 September 2018 - Women’s Championship
*played at Old Trafford