England Lionesses: What is the importance of the Arnold Clark Competition?

Sarina Wiegman will have her first real test as England’s manager in the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup

Four of the best women’s football teams in the world will come together to compete in this year’s inaugural Arnold Clark Cup competition.

England will play host to Germany, Spain and Canada as the four nations take part in this tournament’s first year.

Each team will play in a round-robin match and will give fans across the nation a chance to see many of the World’s top footballers in action ahead of the Euros 2022 competition.

With World Cup star Lucy Bronze back in the squad for England, the first ever Arnold Clark Cup will hope to provide an exciting platform for the growing interest in Women’s football in Britain and beyond.

The competition will be held ahead of the American tournament of a similar nature, SheBelieves Cup.

So what is the importance of the Arnold Clark Cup?

Important training for Euros 2022

This summer is set up to be yet another exciting season in the football calendar. England are not only playing host to the first ever Arnold Clark Cup but will also host this year’s Euros 2022 tournament.

The Euros will be Sarina Wiegman’s main test as England’s new coach. Since coming into the role on 1 September, Wiegman has won all six games in charge but is yet to face a significant challenge.

The Lionesses last international fixture came against Latvia in November with England winning an astounding 20-0. This would have been a far more impressive feat if Latvia weren’t currently sitting 112th in the FIFA rankings while England currently sit in eighth.

Wiegman will face her first real test as England managerWiegman will face her first real test as England manager
Wiegman will face her first real test as England manager

This new competition will offer Wiegman a chance to see how her team are playing against the bigger international sides ahead of such a pivotal tournament later this year.

Speaking to England football on Tuesday 8 February after naming her squad, Wiegman explained: “This is a tournament where we can really have a starting point for our preparations for the Euros - obviously we have already done that - but now with these world-class opponents, we will really know where we stand and from there, we can continue to prepare for the Euros. So it is necessary for us to play these matches.”

Connecting with the fans

With the Euros taking place on home soil this year, the Arnold Clark Cup will be a stepping stone into inviting the fans back into the stadium and for the Lionesses to show what they are capable of before any hopes of ‘bringing it home’ later this year.

In Wiegman’s statement last Tuesday, the England coach also remarked on the importance of the fans: “Every international camp is an opportunity for us to connect with the England fans.

“We are going to parts of the country where we haven’t been to a lot lately so that is really good and hopefully we can play well, play well in games which we obviously want to win, and we can show how good we are and give the fans in the stadium and in front of the television a good evening.”

The Lionesses will be heading to Middlesbrough, Norwich and Wolverhampton in their upcoming fixtures and with tickets starting from £10 or £5 for under-16s, football fans around the country will be able to keep up with the successes of the England squad with ease ahead of the all important Euros campaign.

Recalling of Lucy Bronze to the England squad

Lucy Bronze became a household name during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France where she was crucial in helping England place fourth as well as winning herself the Silver Ball.

In 2018 and 2020, Bronze was named the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year and in 2019 she became the first English winner of the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award before going on to win the Best FIFA Women’s Player in December 2020.

Lucy Bronze returns to the squad following a knee injuryLucy Bronze returns to the squad following a knee injury
Lucy Bronze returns to the squad following a knee injury

The 30-year-old missed out in England’s internationals at the end of last year due to suffering a knee injury but her recovery has permitted Wiegman to include the Lioness icon in the squad once more.

Bronze is likely to be a key cog in England’s Euros hopes and the Arnold Clark Competition will give the Manchester City full-back some necessary international game time ahead of July’s fixtures.

Arnold Clark Cup’s television rights

Unlike many club and competition matches, such as the Premier League and UEFA Champions League, the Arnold Clark Cup will be shown on ITV4 in the UK meaning it will be readily available for the majority of fans around the country.

This accessibility to women’s sport is vital in encouraging more and more fans to keep up with the fate of their Lionesses and if England can continue on their winning streak that was seen last year, the Euros will be set up to be a 2022 sporting highlight.

The platform now available for Wiegman and her squad through hosting two tournaments this year as well as those tournaments being available to watch on terrestrial TV is another necessary milestone in bringing in progressively more supporters of women’s sport.

When is England’s first match?

England play their first match against Canada on 17 February 2022. Go to our article on Everything you need to know ahead of the Arnold Clark Cup to find out more.

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