Women’s and Girl’s Football Statistics UK

womens football statistics illustration
The momentum behind women's football is phenomenal. But how many women play football? How many played as children? And what are the audience sizes like? We take a look in our 2024 round up of women's and girl's football statistics.

Contents

The Lionesses roared to victory in Euro 2022 and played in front capacity crowds across the country for the home tournament.

A sell out Wembley witnessed the women finally bringing football home.

As if that were not impressive enough, just 13 months later the England women’s team would find themselves on an even bigger stage, as World Cup Finalists against Spain.

Defeated in the end on the day, once the disappointment dwindled it became much easier to assess the magnitude of their achievements over time. European Champions and runners up in the World Cup in little over a year is beyond the wildest dreams of many a football fan. But it’s what they did.

It’s not all that long since the FA effectively banned women’s football… yet here we are with WSL season ticket sales soaring and real momentum building.

It seems like women’s grassroots is winning. Over years we’ve seen the girls’ game grow and the momentum driven by the England success is very much a part of that. But what about women? Personally, I started playing with a women’s over 35s football team last year and alongside me are women who’ve never played before and some who’ve not played since they were at school.

So how big is the girls’ and women’s game across the country in 2024? We’ve polled the public, we’ve crunched the numbers and we present to you our round up of girls’ and women’s football statistics in the UK in 2024.

The Quick Statistics

Just here for a quick read? Here are the most important women’s football statistics from our research (with the full match report found within):

  • Just under a quarter of women have ever played on a football team (either as a child, adult or both)
  • This figure is less than half of the equivalent figure for men – 60.6%
  • Around 1 in 7 women in the UK plays on a football team according to our figures
  • 1 in 20 women in the UK have taken up football for the first time in their lives as adults (never played as children)
  • 777,000 girls play football in England as of December 2022
  • That’s an increase from 669,000 just four years earlier

How Many Women Played Football as Girls?

We polled 2,000 adults in the UK in August last year to ask how many played football as children.

We asked:

  • Have you ever played on a football team?
    • Yes, I played on a football team as a child but I do not play as an adult
    • Yes, I played on a football team as a child and continue to play as an adult
    • Yes, I currently play on a football team as an adult, but I never played as a child
    • No, I have never played on a football team before (as a child or as an adult)

We pitted the question to 2,000 adults, 1,003 of whom were women.

Here’s how the general population answered:

Response% of People Who Gave That Answer
Yes, I played on a football team as a child, but do not play as an adult20.90%
Yes, I played on a football team as a child and continue to play as an adult14.60%
Yes, and I currently play on a football team as an adult, but I never played as a child5.90%
No, I have never played on a football team before (as a child or as an adult)58.60%

So in total, 41.40% of adults in the UK have, at some stage of their lives, played on a football team.

But this (unsurprisingly) varies considerably when we look at men and women.

Men are more than two and a half times likelier to have played football than women:

Proportion of Adults in the UK Who’ve Played on a Football Team
Men60.60%
Women23.30%

While over 60% of men have played on a football team, under a quarter of women have (23.3%).

Let’s take a look at the responses from just the women:

Response% of Women Who Gave That Answer
Yes, I played on a football team as a child, but do not play as an adult9.29%
Yes, I played on a football team as a child and continue to play as an adult8.33%
Yes, and I currently play on a football team as an adult, but I never played as a child5.81%
No, I have never played on a football team before (as a child or as an adult)76.57%

The statistics show that:

  • Just over 1 in 20 adult women in the UK have started playing on a football team for the first time as adults (i.e play as adults but not as children)
  • 8.33% of women played as a child and continue to play as an adult
  • 9.29% played as a child but no longer play into adulthood

If we take the 5.81% of women who play only as adults and the 8.33% of women who played as a child and continue to play as adults, this suggests that 14.14%, or just under 1 in 7, women play football as an adult.

Of course, the number remains significantly lower than it does for men, where the equivalent figure in our survey is 27.3%.

In other words, adult men are around twice as likely to play football as adult women.

How many Girls Play Football in England?

A Sport England Active Sports report published in December 2022 found that 777,000 girls play football in a formal setting.

Remarkably, that represents an increase of over 100,000 from the 2018 survey, which found 669,000 girls had played football in a formal setting on the week of the survey.

It’s a safe assumption that the England Euro 2022 victory played a part in encouraging more girls to take up football.

How Many Women and Girls Play Football in Europe?

There are 1.3 million registered female players across clubs that fall under UEFA’s remit. In reality, the figure will be much higher with women playing in more informal setup that are perhaps not associated with regulatory bodies.

WSL Attendance Statistics

The Women’s Super League in England saw a 200% increase in attendances in the season following England’s Euro 2022 triumph.

  • Prior to the start of the 2023/24 WSL season, the record attendance at a WSL game was 47,367 which was set when Arsenal took on Tottenham at the Emirates Stadium in September 2022
  • But on the opening weekend of the 2023/24 WSL season, Arsenal hosted Liverpool at the Emirates. The attendance was a new WSL record with a massive 54,115 people there (to witness Arsenal suffer a shock 1-0 defeat)
 

But what about average crowds?

The average attendances for home games for each of the WSL teams for the 2022/2023 season is below:

TeamAverage Home Crowd (WLS)
Arsenal19826
Manchester City13,202
Manchester United11,845
Chelsea10,230
Liverpool7351
Aston Villa4150
Brighton and Hove Albion3585
Leicester City3240
Reading FC1932
Tottenham1420
West Ham1286
Everton1276

Figures based on 2022/23 season prior to Reading’s relegation.

There’s a huge caveat in these figures though. Averages are heavily skewed for teams who get to play at their club’s main stadium.

Let’s look at Arsenal. Their average attendance is over 19,000 but this was heavily skewed by games played at the Emirates which attracted over 40,000 people.

Their main stadium, Meadow Park, has a capacity of just 4,500. If we look only at games here, the average attendance drops hugely to just 3,720.

Clearly, with WSL clubs selling out 40,000+ seats in the main club stadium, there’s evidence that the women’s teams need larger capacity grounds.

Here are the maximum capacity figures for each team’s main ground (based on WSL teams in the league for 2023/24 season):

TeamMain GroundCapacity
ArsenalMeadow Park4502
Manchester CityAcademy Stadium7000
Manchester UnitedLeigh Sports Village12000
ChelseaKingsmeadow4850
LiverpoolPrenton Park16587
Aston VillaBescot Stadium11000
Brighton and Hove AlbionBroadfield Stadium6134
Leicester CityKing Power Stadium32261
Bristol CityAshton Gate Stadium27000
TottenhamBrisbane Road9271
West HamVictoria Road6078
EvertonWalton Hall Park2200

Both Leicester and Bristol City play their home games at their club’s main ground (albeit without all seats on sale typically).

Other teams have separate grounds from their men’s team though the like of Arsenal and Manchester United (amongst others) will play some games at their main club stadium over the course of the season.

World Cup 2023 Viewing Figures

We can’t talk about women’s football statistics without talking about some of the astronomical figures from the World Cup in Summer 2023.

In a Tweet, FIFA confirmed that the tournament saw 1.95 million fans in stadiums across the 64 games. 

14.46 million people tuned in to watch the final in the UK alone.

What’s to Come?

Women’s football is experiencing astronomical growth, both from a playing and spectating perspective. But audiences are growing, more girls (and even women) are kicking a ball around and it looks like it will be another record breaking season for the WSL.

We’ll be back with updated figures in 2024.

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