Chris Bryant, the FA’s head of tournament, had previously told Telegraph Sport that the sudden recent growth of the women’s game means his team was taking on an event that was much bigger than the one for which the governing body had originally bid. Asked on Tuesday whether the FA wished it had chosen bigger venues he replied: “You’ve got to look at what venues were available to us. We’ve got the stadiums that we’ve got, we’re happy with them and I think we’ve got the right blend. We don’t see ‘sold-out’ as being a bad issue.
“I think we’ve made the right choices with everything we had available at the time, we’ve pushed it as hard as we can.”
Bryant also reiterated his defence of Manchester City’s Academy Stadium. Its choice as a venue for the Iceland’s matches with Belgium and Italy was slammed by Icelandic midfielder Sara Bjork Gunnarsdottir in April as “disrespecting women’s football”. The capacity will be reduced during the tournament because the sections behind the goals are currently standing only and Uefa’s rules do not allow non-seated zones.
“That’s a Uefa tournament requirement, we need to respect that,” said Bryant. “We are looking to cover those areas so you won’t see them as empty areas. We don’t think the solution is building up the capacity in one stadium, we need to push that demand around the entirety of the venues as that’s what gets us full capacity across all the venues and gets us the atmosphere.”
Bryant also revealed nearly 100,000 people have bought tickets from outside of the country, planning to travel to England for the competition. “Around 45 per cent of ticket buyers are female and about 23 per cent have been concessions,” Bryant added. “Around 96,000 tickets have been sold to buyers outside of England, from around 100 different countries.”
England’s preparations for their first home major tournament since 2005 continue with a friendly against the Netherlands at Elland Road on Friday (8pm kick-off).