Women’s Super League 2023-24 fixtures: Chelsea to play Spurs on first weekend

Millie Bright and Sam Kerr of Chelsea kiss the Barclays Women's Super League trophy after the team's victory during the FA Women's Super League match between Reading and Chelsea at Select Car Leasing Stadium on May 27, 2023 in Reading, England
Chelsea are the defending Women’s Super League champions - Getty Images/Justin Setterfield

The 2023-24 Women’s Super League fixtures have been released and there is plenty for fans to get excited about, from a London derby at Stamford Bridge on the opening weekend through to a meeting of two title rivals on the final afternoon of the season.

There will be four of the clubs’ men’s or ‘main’ stadiums in use for the opening set of games – Ashton Gate, Stamford Bridge, Emirates Stadium and Villa Park – as the sport seeks to build further momentum off the back of a World Cup summer.

Telegraph Sport columnist Emma Hayes has said that with interest in women’s football booming, WSL teams should be given equal access to club stadiums as their male counterparts this season. Indeed, the WSL and Championship are aiming to become the world’s first £1 billion women’s sport league (read more below) within the next 10 years.

The WSL’s title race has gone down to the wire and been decided on the final day of the campaign for three years running. This season, if that happens again, viewers could be in for a very dramatic afternoon, because last season’s top two – Manchester United and Chelsea – will play each other on the final day in May.

The WSL’s opening weekend fixtures

All Sunday, October 1
Aston Villa v Manchester United (Villa Park), 12.30pm, Live on BBC Two
Everton v Brighton & Hove Albion, 1pm
Arsenal v Liverpool (Emirates), 2pm
Bristol City v Leicester City (Ashton Gate), 2pm
West Ham United v Manchester City, 3pm
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur (Stamford Bridge), 5.30pm, Live on Sky Sports

The season’s final-day fixtures

All Sunday, May 18
Arsenal v Brighton, 2pm
Aston Villa v Manchester City, 2pm
Bristol City v Everton, 2pm
Leicester v Liverpool, 2pm
Manchester United v Chelsea, 2pm
Tottenham Hotspur v West Ham United, 2pm

Key fixtures for the ‘big four’

Champions Chelsea suffered only two league defeats last season. One of those came against Manchester City, who are the first opponent they play away from home in this campaign on October 8.

Manchester United, runners-up last season, have a tricky-looking start, going first to Villa Park to face ‘the best of the rest’ in Aston Villa, before a home game against rivals Arsenal. Fans will be looking forward to their first derby game at home to Manchester City on November 19.

Manchester United's Nikita Parris celebrates scoring their side's third goal of the game during the Barclays Women's Super League match at Leigh Sports Village, Leigh. Picture date:
Manchester United finished second last season - PA/Barrington Coombs

December looks like a crucial blockbuster month for Jonas Eidevall’s Arsenal, with a trip to neighbours Tottenham on December 17, a week after their grudge match against Chelsea (h) on December 10, who they will want to beat if they are to reclaim the title for the first time since 2019.

Manchester City missed out on Europe last season and will need big results in the head-to-head meetings with their closest rivals this season to stop that happening again. Arsenal (a), November 5, should provide a thorough test of their credentials.

What about newly-promoted Bristol City?

Last season’s promoted side, Bristol City, will start their campaign with two matches against sides who were under threat of relegation last season, before then going into back-to-back challenges against potential title contenders. Here are the West Country club’s opening six matches:

Leicester City (h), October 1
Tottenham Hotspur (a), October 8
Manchester City (a), October 15
Arsenal (h), October 22
West Ham United (a), November 5
Aston Villa (h), November 12

When is the winter break?

The final set of WSL fixtures in 2023 will be held on Sunday, December 17, including a north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal, and a clash between Manchester United and Liverpool.

After its traditional winter break, the WSL will then resume on Sunday, January 21, with Chelsea vs Manchester United topping the billing.

What are the full WSL fixtures for next season?

Running from October to May, the 2023-24 schedule will keep fans busy. As well as the full fixture list below, you can also sort by club using the search tool.

FA Women's Super League 2023/24 fixtures

When did the Championship start?

The second tier of the pyramid, the Women’s Championship, got under way on Saturday, August 26, just six days after the World Cup final and ends earlier than the WSL, with the second tier concluding on April 28. This season, in a change from previous campaigns, two teams will be relegated from the bottom of the Championship, an increase from one.

WSL aiming to become world’s first £1bn women’s sport league

The Women’s Super League and Championship are targeting a combined annual revenue of £1 billion within the next 10 years, the leagues’ chair has said.

The Football Association, which currently runs the two divisions, is in the process of handing over those leagues to a new entity, NewCo, by the start of the next season, and Airey says that becoming the world’s first £1 billion women’s sports league is in their new business plan, including the leagues and clubs’ incomes together.

Several of the highest-profile directors working at men’s Premier Leagues clubs have been meeting as a working group throughout 2023 to map out the future business model for the WSL and Championship, including Vinai Venkatesham, the Arsenal chief executive, West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady and Paul Barber of Brighton.

“The whole of women’s sport globally gets a billion dollars in revenues, [while] men’s sport gets half a trillion – that’s an enormous difference,” chair of the WSL and Championship board Dawn Airey said. “There’s enormous potential for women’s sport and women’s football in particular. This is a movement, it’s exploding. It’s a tsunami of interest and engagement at every single level.

“One of our stated goals is to make [these leagues] the first billion pound women’s leagues in the world, that is league revenue, and club revenue, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do it. Our goal, at every level, is to get more finances in this business.”

America’s WNBA, the most lucrative women’s basketball league in the world, is projecting $200 million (£161.3 million) of revenue this year, according to a Bloomberg report in April. The NWSL, the United States’ leading women’s football division, had annual sponsorship revenue for the league – excluding their clubs’ revenues – of $26 million (£21 million) this year, according to May’s ‘business of the NWSL’ report.

England’s WSL currently has a domestic broadcast rights deal with the BBC and Sky Sports that is understood to be worth between £7 million and £8 million per year, plus a series of overseas television rights deals, while individual WSL clubs’ annual incomes – according to their financial accounts – range from around £2 million per year to £6 million, with smaller figures in the Championship.

“That [£1 billion of annual revenue] isn’t the figure we just plucked from the air, it is based on a pretty decent and detailed business plan over the course of the next 10 years,” said Airey, who eventually wants the Championship to be a full-time professional league. “What will be wonderful, and it will happen if we’ve got this right, is you’re going to have two professional leagues [in future]. When that will be, I can’t tell you – would it be within 10 years? I’d like to think so.”

Baroness Sue Campbell, director of women’s football at the FA, believes the Championship and the lower leagues need to be strengthened as the WSL grows, to avoid gulfs in quality within the pyramid.

She said: “What we don’t want it to be is just a few very rich clubs. And to be fair to the CEOs of those clubs, they don’t want it either, and they’ve been really good at sitting at the table and saying we recognise that a league of four isn’t going to be sellable to broadcasters.

“But there is a gap between the Championship and the National League [too], and that’s something I’m working with colleagues on, to look at another way of structuring the National League. But that’s a bit further down the line – there’s a lot of work still to be done.”

This is the last season of the existing domestic TV deal, shared between the BBC and Sky, and Airey says the tendering process for the next rights deal will begin by the end of the year.

“We will be going to market, I would like to think, before the end of the year,” she said. “The Premier League is going to go to market in the middle of October [so] it would be daft to put our rights into the market when they’re in, because that’s going to get the primary attention – we will go in after [the Premier League].

“So it’ll be the end of this year. It’s always interesting to see who responds to the tender but there’s no reason why it can be quite speedy. In terms of who’s interested, everybody is, as they should be. It’s just a question of assessing the tenders.”

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