Manchester City have been blazing a trail since they joined the Women’s Super League back in 2014 – and last weekend they became the first women’s club to stream a match live on Facebook.
Nearly 500,000 people from around the world watched their impressive 4-1 win against Doncaster Belles in the quarter-final of the Continental Cup.
“The first time I heard about a match being live on Facebook was Wayne Rooney’s testimonial – a few days before!” said City captain Steph Houghton.
“For us to have the opportunity to have our game streamed live was fantastic.”
Houghton and many of her colleagues are used to big TV audiences, with millions watching them as they represent England, but the uniqueness of this situation wasn’t lost on them.
“I think it was a little bit special,” she added.
“We’re the first club to do it in the women’s game, and with the huge following we have, especially with our social media content, I think it’s great to allow not just the fans in England to watch us.
“As a squad we were very excited about the prospect of it being live on Facebook.”
Despite the big numbers, at the moment, there aren’t any more matches expected to be streamed – this particular innovation was a one-off.
City, though, are hopeful that the commitment to growing the women’s game, from the FA to the clubs to the fans, will mean this might be reconsidered in the near future.
“We want to push the game forward as much as we possibly can,” pointed out Houghton.
“We’re playing well at the moment and if we can showcase how well we’re playing it’s even better for us – and an even bigger incentive to keep performing well.”
* ‘The Roar of the Lionesses: Women’s Football in England’ is out now – available in all good bookshops *