The English Football Association (FA) has finalised the stadia which will host the UEFA Women’s Euro in 2021, with Leigh Sports Village replacing the home of Championship football club Nottingham Forest as a venue.
The FA was awarded hosting rights to the national team tournament in December, with nine stadia across the country having been proposed to stage matches. England hosted the event back in 2005 when it was an eight-team tournament. The 2021 edition will be contested by 16 teams, with Wembley poised to stage the final a year after hosting the final of the men’s Euro 2020.
Wembley had been shortlisted as a proposed host venue for Euro 2021 alongside the Brentford Community Stadium, Amex Stadium (Brighton), Manchester City Academy Stadium, Stadium MK (Milton Keynes), City Ground (Nottingham), New York Stadium (Rotherham), Bramall Lane (Sheffield) and St Mary’s Stadium (Southampton).
The FA has now confirmed the host venues, with Leigh Sports Village (pictured) replacing the City Ground. This is due to the latter venue being deemed unviable for Euro 2021 matches due to planned stadium refurbishments.
Leigh Sports Village is the current home and training base for Manchester United’s women’s and U23 teams, as well as Championship rugby league club Leigh Centurions. The 12,000-capacity stadium is also due to host three games during the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Leigh Sports Village chairman Lord Peter Smith said: “Leigh Sports Village is used to hosting international sporting fixtures and events and we hosted an England women’s team training camp in 2012, but we are absolutely thrilled to be bringing such a prestigious event for women’s football and for England to the people of Leigh, Wigan Borough and beyond.
“It’s been so exciting to experience Manchester United women’s success over the past season at Leigh Sports Village, and the women’s game has never had such momentum. We can’t wait to welcome fans from all over the continent to Leigh.
“These high profile games also give us the opportunity to inspire and empower women and girls as part of Wigan Council’s Believe In Her campaign. UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 will further enhance the profile of Leigh Sports Village and the town as a whole.”
Euro 2021 promises to be a record-breaking tournament for European football’s governing body, with approximately 700,000 tickets due to be available for fans and extensive coverage of every game of the tournament available on free-to-air television, radio and online.
Two of the stadia are current FA Women’s Super League grounds, and four of the venues – Brighton & Hove, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Southampton – offer a capacity of over 30,000. As tournament hosts, England qualify automatically and will be joined by another 15 teams for the final tournament in July 2021. Both the venues and the official match schedule will be formally approved by UEFA later this year.
Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said: “The performance of the Lionesses (at the Women’s World Cup) this summer engaged the nation and helped to generate significant momentum in the women’s game.
“Looking ahead, hosting a home Euro in 2021 offers a huge opportunity for us to continue to push the profile of women’s football and to inspire more women and girls to get involved in the game. The confirmation of these nine venues is an important milestone for us as a host nation on our journey towards the final tournament in July 2021.
“I am confident that the selected cities and stadia will allow hundreds of thousands of fans across the country to attend matches and will also help to deliver an atmosphere befitting of a home European Championship to the nation.”
Image: Leigh Centurions