10 January 2024

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Lidl unveils unprecedented new research into support for female sport in Ireland at 2024 Lidl National Football League Launch

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Lidl unveils unprecedented new research into support for female sport in Ireland at 2024 Lidl National Football League Launch

Lidl Ireland and the Ladies Gaelic Football Association (LGFA) today launched the 2024 Lidl National Football League season, unveiling new research that examines the public’s attitudes towards attending female sports, with findings revealing that 59% of Irish people have never attended a live women’s sporting event.

Lidl and the LGFA’s new campaign to increase attendances comes as the 2024 Lidl National League campaign is about to get underway, which gives ample opportunities for the public to attend top-class female sport in every county in the country over the coming weeks. There are four fixtures in Division 4 next Sunday, as Kilkenny, Leitrim, Limerick, Wicklow, Fermanagh, Longford, Derry and Carlow commence their campaigns.

Saturday January 20th marks the start of the Division 1 campaign and it will begin with a bang as 2023 TG4 All-Ireland Finalists Dublin and Kerry will meet at Parnell Park (5.15pm) in a live TG4 fixture. This is the battle of the champions as Kerry, the reigning Lidl National League Division 1 holders, meet Dublin, the TG4 All-Ireland winners in 2023. A large attendance is expected at Parnell Park to kickstart a weekend that will also see the Divisions 2 and 3 campaigns get underway, while Round 2 fixtures in Division 4 are also down for decision.

The 2024 Lidl National Leagues conclude across the weekend of Saturday/Sunday April 6th/7th. The Divisions 3 and 4 Finals will be streamed live on the Spórt TG4 YouTube page on Saturday April 6th, followed by live TV coverage of the Divisions 1 and 2 Finals from Croke Park on Sunday April 7th.

The research commissioned by Lidl and carried out by Red C in December 2023 also revealed that, despite 42% of people stating an interest in attending a female sporting event and three quarters (74%) thinking it is a shame that people don’t attend, more than half (59%) of the population admit they have never attended a live female sporting event compared to just over a quarter (29%) having never attended a live men’s event.

Going head-to-head, Irish people are five times more likely to attend a premier men’s event in person than an equivalent premier female event, with almost half (46%) saying that men’s sport is generally better to watch. A staggering 59% of Irish people said they would prefer to watch men’s sport on TV than attend a live female sporting event.

Out of the 25% of the population who do attend live female sporting events, spectators are more likely to be male (57%) than female (43%) and aged between 35-54-years. Parents of participating children are also more active in attending female fixtures.

Lack of media coverage is perceived to negatively affect public awareness and support, with some 40% stating this as a reason for non-attendance at live women’s events. Almost two thirds (65%) of people think women’s sport does not get enough media coverage in Ireland and 83% agree that men’s sport is covered more comprehensively.

Other barriers to attending female sports events included venues not being easy to get to (37%), not knowing anyone that is playing (34%) and ticket prices being too high (34%) but perceptions and unconscious bias around women’s sport in Ireland continue to be key barriers.

Almost half of Irish people (46%) believe that men’s sport is generally better to watch than women’s sport. Whilst Irish people perceive women’s sports in Ireland to be high quality and skilful, they think it’s less exciting or competitive than men’s sports and over a third (38%) think that the standard of play isn’t high enough to justify attendance at live matches.

Establishing connections with individual sports stars is seen to be a key driver of support but half of people think there is a lack of Irish female sporting heroes. When asked which Irish female sports stars they can name, almost half of respondents said Katie Taylor, having recently been awarded ‘Ireland’s Most Admired’ sportsperson for the seventh consecutive year, however less than 1 in 10 people were able to name any other Irish female sporting stars unprompted.

J.P. Scally, CEO Lidl Ireland, said, “Lidl is committed to supporting the growth of Ladies Football and the broader community of female athletes participating in sport across the country. The research has revealed some pretty stark perceptions about female sport in Ireland and the aim of this campaign is to tackle those head on and break through the bias to showcase the incredible skill of players and quality of gameplay and the potential that the game has to deliver for fans with more support behind it. This campaign is about accelerating a process of change in our society as our female athletes deserve support week in week out. It’s not just about turning up for our sisters, daughters and partners, it’s about creating a new wave of support for the next generation to drive on the game.” 

Mícheál Naughton, LGFA President, said: “I wish to commend Lidl Ireland on another important piece of research. The findings are certainly revealing and it’s now incumbent on people to get behind the fight and ensure greater attendances at our fixtures in 2024. It’s an exciting year for the LGFA as we celebrate our 50th anniversary on July 18th and it promises to be another memorable campaign as our counties battle it out for Lidl National League honours before attention switches to the Championship season. I would like to wish all of our players the very best of luck as they get ready to commence a new season and, as always, a huge word of thanks to Lidl Ireland, our National League sponsors and official retail partner, for their ongoing support.”

The current record for attendance at a female sporting event in Ireland is 56,114 supporters who attended the 2019 TG4 All Ireland Ladies Gaelic Football finals while the record for attendance at a women’s soccer international match was set in 2023, with 35,944 spectators. However, outside of showcase events, attendance figures are not consistently strong for female sporting events.

Lidl, who has committed more than €10 million to the development and promotion of Ladies Gaelic Football since 2016, utilised today’s National Football League launch to bring two international speakers to Ireland to share their experiences of driving attendance at female sports events. Lindsay Peterson, Director of Operations, Nebraska Volleyball at the University of Nebraska and Holly Murdock, Head of Operations, Women’s Professional Game at the English FA.  The Huskers set the world record for attendance at a female sports event with 92,003 attending a female college volleyball match in August 2023 whilst the English FA has had repeated success is delivering record crowds at female events such as the 77,390 who attended last year’s Women’s FA Cup Final and the 87,192 who attended the Euro22 Final between England and Germany.

Also participating in the launch event were Dublin’s 2023 TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship winning captain Carla Rowe, Ireland international soccer player currently playing with Shamrock Rovers Stephanie Roche and former Ireland, Leinster and British and Irish Lions rugby international Gordon D’Arcy who discussed the findings of the research and explored the personal impact of support in the stands on their careers.

Lindsay Peterson, Director of Operations, Nebraska Volleyball Programme at the University of Nebraska, said, “We saw first-hand with Volleyball Day in Nebraska what can be accomplished when female sports are given an opportunity. Selling out a football stadium with a crowd of 92,003 for a women’s college volleyball match is a huge deal. We saw all over the country this past season, volleyball programs were setting record attendances and breaking TV ratings records frequently. We need to continue to invest in women’s athletics and support our female athletes. We took a big step forward this past year, and the future is very bright.” 

Holly Murdock, Head of Operations, Women’s Professional Game at the English FA said, “It has been incredible to see the growth of the women’s professional game in recent years, with the hard work of everybody across our clubs and leagues coming to fruition in the shape of the record-breaking attendances we have been seeing across the board.

“Whether it’s over 59,000 at the Emirates Stadium, 43,000 at Old Trafford or 14,000 at Ashton Gate, these attendances have seen history made over the course of the last few seasons.

“As far as we have come, we are under no illusions that this is only the beginning of our journey and the hard work will continue to ensure that the women’s game flourishes and our fanbase grows, with the aim being to see those records tumble in the years to come.

Carla Rowe, Dublin TG4 All-Ireland winning captain and Lidl Ambassador, said, “As a player, having fans in the stands makes a world of difference. It’s not just about the support, it’s about creating an atmosphere that fuels the passion for the game. The roar of the crowd and energy from fans can often be the missing ingredient that teams need to get the win or change up game play, taking the match to new levels of excitement. The potential for this game really is unlimited, and we’ve seen how the Irish public can rally around female stars like Katie Taylor to drive them to success. Just think what we could achieve with the backing of more supporters not only at the big finals, but local games too. Making a collective effort to celebrate and elevate women in sports, from grassroots to the elite level will change the game for all of us.” 

During the event, Lidl aired an exclusive preview of its hard-hitting new TV and outdoor ad campaign which contains a strong call to action to ‘Get Behind the Fight’ and attend Ladies Gaelic Football fixtures at all levels of the game.

The ad features LGFA brand ambassadors and intercounty players Ally Cahill (Cavan), Nicola Ward (Galway), Emer Gallagher (Donegal), and Carla Rowe (Dublin), as well as club players from Kilmacud Crokes and Dunshaughlin.  The ad will premiere on national television on Sunday 14 January 2024 as the Lidl National Football League season gets underway.

The Lidl National Football League gets under way this coming weekend. Division 4 fixtures begin on Sunday 14th January whilst counties competing in Divisions 1, 2 and 3 will commence their respective campaigns on the weekend of January 20th/January 21st. The LGFA and TG4 have confirmed live coverage of 13 fixtures, via linear TV and the Spórt TG4 YouTube page, commencing with the Dublin-Kerry clash from Parnell Park on Saturday January 20th.

Peil na mBan Beo will be available to audiences globally on the TG4 Player at www.tg4.ie/beo and on the TG4 Mobile and Smart TV App.

Tickets to attend the group fixtures of the 2024 Lidl National Football League matches are available via the host county boards.

#GetBehindTheFight 

 

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