Football: Now it's a game for both halves

Trevor Haylett discusses how football can gain a bigger squad for its distaff side

HAD Harry Redknapp paid more attention to the changing face of the football fan he would not have blundered down the path of political incorrectness and could have avoided the wrath of Mrs Sandra Redknapp, the new Mrs Louise Redknapp, as well as a large portion of the rest of womankind.

Redknapp was casting strictly one eye only over the debate surrounding Mrs Unsworth's perceived role in her defender husband David's decision to seek an immediate move from Aston Villa to Everton, having made his longed-for departure from West Ham only a few days beforehand.

"Wives," said the Upton Park manager, with his tongue racing some considerable distance ahead of his brain, "should concentrate on looking after the kids and the house. There was a time when a bloke would go home an say, `Pack the china, I've got a better job and we are moving.'"

Leaving aside the question of how far his new daughter-in-law - the pop singer Louise, recently married to Jamie - conforms to Redknapp's cosy ideal of domesticity and willing subservience, he is some way wide of the mark in failing to recognise that the game, and all its side-shows, play an increasingly significant part in today's liberated world of the distaff side.

During the World Cup more women "discovered football" than was the case for previous big international events. In the United Kingdom 95.2 per cent of women and girls over the age of four saw at least part of a televised match during France 98, an increase of six per cent compared to Euro 96.

Those figures correspond with the trends inside grounds. In each of the four Premier League seasons in which records are available, the female followers have been flocking to the all-seater, well-catered, musically enhanced stadia in ever- increasing numbers.

Mike Lee, spokesman for the Premier League, said they were confident this growth could be maintained, citing enhanced comfort, the reduction in hooliganism and the existence of family areas as factors behind the trend.

At the same time he points out: "We must not lose sight of the fact that what people, both male and female, find most attractive about the football experience is what happens on the pitch," he said. "We have to strive to maintain both the quality of the game and its marketing appeal."

However, Shiela Spiers, a Football Supporters' Association committee member, remains concerned that unless a greater share of televised football is given back to the terrestrial networks then the game's new summer fans will just as quickly drift away.

"It's significant to me that the World Cup matches were shown on both BBC and ITV," she said. "If you consider those to be an appetiser for new football enthusiasts they have no chance of moving on to the first course let alone the main course unless the number of games shown only on Sky is reduced.

"The vast majority of people who subscribe to the satellite sport package are football supporters now or were so in the past. You won't find any new fans taking it up."

Talk about appetisers and main courses was a convenient cue to bring Delia Smith into the discussion. Since taking over as Norwich City's majority shareholder she has worked hard to entice more women into Carrow Road. The celebrity cook wants to introduce a "women's day", offering free or reduced admission (assuming the sex discrimination legislation does not defeat her). Another initiative includes bringing out a range of women's clothing tailored specifically for the football fan.

She said: "What annoys me more than anything is when women write off football when they have never been anywhere near a game. They still think it's a spit and sawdust environment but they don't realise what they are missing.

"I want more women to come to the games because I know what a joy it is for me and what a difference it has made to my life."

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Solutions Architect - Permanent - London - £70k DOE

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

General Cover Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Great opportunities for Cover...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?