The remaining tickets for the final of the women’s European Championship sold out in an hour with 100 days to go before England kick-off against Austria at Old Trafford.
As well as the Wembley final, England’s matches against Norway at the Brighton & Hove Community Stadium and Northern Ireland at St Mary’s and Belgium’s game with Iceland at the Manchester City Academy Stadium have all sold out.
More than 350,000 of the 700,000 tickets available for the tournament had been sold during pre-sales and a public ballot window, which means that the tournament has already past the record of 240,045 tickets sold for Euro 2017 in the Netherlands.
“We want as many full stadia and as many spectators in the stadiums as possible,” the head of tournament delivery, Chris Bryant, said. “That is the aspiration. That’s what we think will make the most difference, that we bring in that atmosphere that’s worthy of the European Championships.”
Ticket prices range from £5 to £50 meaning a family of four can watch a match for as little as £30.
“We know that the opening game is going to do well, we know the final’s going to do well, we know the England games will do well, I’m pretty sure the tickets for those that are going to sell out,” Bryant said. “Then, it’s about redirecting everybody’s interest into the other games, and there are some fantastic games across the country.
“This is football at the very highest level, tickets are incredibly affordable, it’s a fantastic day out for families. It really rivals any kind of family activity, we think, and we’ve done that purposely, so that we can try and get stadiums full.”
As Uefa unveiled a set of giant table football players on Carnaby Street in London, the England defender Millie Bright said that although it is hard to turn attention away from the Women’s Super League title race she was feeling the buzz.
“Coming here today, it raises the levels of excitement,” Bright said. “It’s hard to have that vision when you’re still in season and things are so intense in the league. But it’s definitely in the back of your mind.”
Winning the Euros on home soil will be a tough challenge. There are many teams with a realistic shot at the title. Bright, who has excelled for England and Chelsea, is positive about their chances of going one better than their two runner-up performances in 1984 and 2009.
“Sometimes change is needed,” she said about the arrival of a new manager, Sarina Wiegman, last summer. “We’ve been on a journey for a long time but it feels like there’s a real freshness to the group and to the way we’re playing.
“There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone in over the years, but I think we’ve started to find our identity now. From the performances, hopefully the fans are just as excited as we are and that the games in recent months are just a starting point.”
England have developed greatly as a team but the expectations of the tournament have evolved too. “It’s not an easy time to be doing a major event on the back of the pandemic and everyone’s commitments and budgets have remained intact,” said Bryant
“What I would say is the level of expectation of women’s football is massively growing, to the extent where we’re having to keep up with that and manage expectations and that is maybe not the easiest thing to do. We’re definitely doing that, though, and the event we will deliver this summer will be far bigger than the event we planned when we were announced as hosts.
“The World Cup in France in 2019 was a massive wake-up call that women’s football is a really moving and involving sport and, actually, hang on a minute, sponsor and supporter interest is growing.”
There is huge pressure on the organisers to deliver a tournament that captures the mood of the nation in the same way the Olympics did in 2012, where people watched things they would never have considered before. With new eyes on the game, there is a desire to draw fans in beyond the Euros. Bright said the added pressure was not new though.
“As a female in football that is part of the journey,” she said. “One bad performance and all of a sudden the game’s not worth anything or women aren’t worth anything in football, that’s what we’re trying to stamp out.
“So, for us, it’s no more pressure, it’s just part of the game that we have to deal with day in and day out. There’s going to be criticism, every single day in football, that’s just part and parcel, but we don’t want to be discriminated against as women in football, that’s the difference.”