Leah Williamson: WSL ‘best league in the world’ despite big-name departures

Leah Williamson plays for Arsenal. (David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

England star Leah Williamson called the Women’s Super League to be “the best league in the world” to watch as a fan but called for even more investment.

Speaking with BBC Sport ahead of the league’s opening weekend, the Arsenal defender discussed the increasing popularity of the WSL, which has seen record ticket sales for the 2022 season on the heels of the Lionesses’ Euros win.

“If I was a fan who wanted to watch a league, this would be the best league in the world without a shadow of a doubt. I think in terms of talent and the players that we attract, we’re doing really well,” Williamson said. “We want the best players to come and play in this league. I think it’s the most competitive league in the world, which to me makes it the best one to watch.

“The product isn’t the same as men’s football. Nobody’s asking for it to be equal in every aspect.”

As the league starts a new season, though, it does so without some big name players like Keira Walsh, who set a new women’s transfer record with her departure to Barcelona. Fellow England teammate Lucy Bronze also signed with Barcelona in the offseason from Manchester City, while Georgia Stanway left City for Bayern Munich.

For Williamson, the WSL has got better teams across the board – not just at the upper levels – but she would like to see more clubs in England investing in players.

“Other leagues might not be great or as consistent as ours with the teams, but the top teams are so good,” she said. “We definitely have a long way to go. I’d like to think that the clubs here are investing, but the level of investment in Europe is 10 times higher than it is here.

“I think the gap is a product of investment. A lack of investment here for so long, potentially. And quality of players. The quality of players in those teams is unbelievable.”

On the heels of England’s win, investment is at an all-time high, and Williamson would like to see that extend beyond the short term.

“It’s about more and more partners that are getting involved for the long run, not just for the short run. That’s where we’ll see a big boost of investment and a big boost of interest,” she told BBC Sport.

“We saw so many people jumping on the bandwagon,” she continued. “Are you going to stay on? Are you going to join us for this journey? Because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”