Arsenal chief executive Vinai Venkatesham has underlined the club’s ongoing commitment to its women’s team ahead of the 2021/22 season, which brings a return to Champions League football, by providing more investment and support, better facilities and games at the Emirates Stadium
Arsenal finished third in the WSL last season after a strong end to the campaign, overtaking Manchester United and securing the last of the league’s three Champions League places.
It has already been a busy summer for the Gunners, with Leah Williamson signing a new contract, long-term target Mana Iwabuchi arriving, negotiations to sign Nikita Parris from Lyon and the appointment of new head coach Jonas Eidevall.
Venkatesham has said that the process of providing increased support started towards the end of summer 2020 when he held talks with some of the women’s team players and staff.
“We’ve significantly increased and enhanced the backroom staff that support our women’s team, so we’re bringing on board a new head of sports medicine and sports science, we’ve increased the staff in our medical team, we’ve brought on board a nutritionist, we’ve created a new individual development coach role, we’ve brought on more operations staff,” he told Arsenal.com.
“We’ve really changed the set-up behind the scenes quite significantly to make sure our players have everything they need to be successful on the pitch. There’s also more than that.
“When Jonas joins us at the start of pre-season this year, we’re going to be sitting down with him and some of the players, and also sitting down with the staff for a really exciting new project, which is going to be to build a new women’s football building here at London Colney.”
Arsenal are also seeking to bring the women’s team even more in line with the men’s side and the academy to create ‘synergies’ between each strand of the club, as well as making use of technology and analytic platforms currently used by the men’s team to develop their female players.
“I guess overall we’ve always been a big investor in women’s football. We invest millions of pounds a year, every year, into women’s football. Next year we’re going to be investing much more than ever before,” Venkatesham said.
Games played at Premier League stadiums has become a major feature of the women’s game in recent season. Arsenal hosted Bayern Munich in a pre-season game at the Emirates Stadium in 2019 and haven’t been back since, but the club is now prepared to take that step forward.
The majority of Arsenal games will remain at Meadow Park, Borehamwood, which Venkatesham called a ‘fantastic stadium’, but at least two fixtures will be played at the Emirates as well.