The women’s North London Derby is this weekend, at the erstwhile cheese shop up the road from the Emirates. Both Arsenal and Tottenham are doing a fantastic job trying to build hype for the game, which is great to see. Tottenham is selling tickets for as little as £6.50, and both sides see this as an opportunity to promote not just both these teams, but the WSL itself, as it grows and becomes more popular.
One of the key elements in promoting a game, or a rivalry, or a league, of course, is media coverage and attention. And one of the ways that media attention happens is via the pre-match press conference. You know, that event that infuriates everyone, because no coach says anything of substance and nothing really is learned that we didn’t already know?
So yeah, anyway, in the runup to the NLD, Tottenham hosted a press conference today. Here’s a transcript:
Disappointing day. Spurs Women forced to cancel their press conference ahead of NLD due to lack of press. Think I was actually the only journalist there. Poor from sport media outlets— Eleanor (@eleanorlee_) November 14, 2019
Where’s this so-called buzz surrounding women’s football weekend? @GiveMeSportW
That’s right. No English news outlet could be bothered to send a reporter to a press conference. Eleanor is a freelancer, and in case you don’t click through to the tweet, was able to get some news and info, but overall, it’s really bad that not a single news source sent a reporter or a stringer or anyone at all to this.
The England team, of course, played in the Czech Republic a couple days ago, and there were journalists there, but it’s not like those journalists had to walk back from České Budějovice, where the game was; even considering there are fewer women’s soccer journalists than men’s, it’s inexcusable that none of them were at this presser ahead of what could be the biggest game in the WSL this season.
Spurs are expecting 70,000 tickets, and Arsenal have sold 3,000, so it’s not like there was zero interest in this game. And yet not a single journalist could be bothered to show up. Why is this? There may be a few reasons:
- Spurs scheduled a press event at a ridiculously inconvenient time, or in a ridiculously inconvenient location. As bantery as it would be to say “they Spursed it”, this isn’t really the case. By the time stamp of that tweet above (which is West Coast US time), the press event probably started at 3PM or so London time, and it was at Tottenham’s stadium, which isn’t exactly remote. So that’s probably not it.
- Spurs didn’t invite the right people. I have no specific insights into who they invited to this event, but given the timing of this game relative to the aforementioned England game, it could be that they invited the men’s soccer writers from the major outlets because they were unsure of the availability of the usual women’s soccer writers. This has the ring of plausibility, but it also has the disadvantage of being super dumb - I would hope that Spurs would be smart enough to try to make sure the right people were in the room in order to best promote what promises to be a pretty amazing day.
- The people the team invited don’t care enough to bother. This one ties in with the previous one, because if they didn’t invite the journalists who normally cover the women’s game, it’s easy to see someone they did invite just basically saying “eh, this isn’t that big of a deal, I’m going to blow it off” and staying home or whatever. As skeptical of a person that I am about...well, everything, I can’t really imagine a scenario where this mindset would cause absolutely no one to show up, so I’m not sure this one is universally applicable, but it could be a possibility.
I don’t list those in order to accuse a particular journalist (or Spurs) of intentional bad faith or anything; I just am very interested in figuring out what happened and hoping they can figure out how to prevent it from happening again.
Ultimately, the “why” is something we’ll never really know (SIDE NOTE: If you’re an English journalist, please feel free to reach out to me and let me know if any of my theories are even close to realistic). All that matters is that the English media missed a gigantic opportunity here, an opportunity to continue promoting the women’s game, as it grows and becomes more popular, by highlighting one of the showpiece events on the WSL calendar.
The game is this Sunday at 7AM PT/10AM ET/3PM BT, by the way, and can be viewed for free on The FA Player.