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Emma Hayes is determined Chelsea will find their edge again and not lose focus as the new Women’s Super League season kicks off with more exposure than ever before.
The WSL’s three-year TV deal with Sky and the BBC will see matches broadcast every weekend.
As well as helping bring in a much-needed additional income stream on the back of a testing 18 months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, such extra attention will bring with it a new level of scrutiny.
The landmark partnership will see more access to live women’s football than EVER before. 👀 📺
— Barclays FA Women's Super League (@BarclaysFAWSL) March 22, 2021
Hayes has been with Chelsea since 2012. Last season she guided the Blues to another WSL title, edging out Manchester City by two points, as well as the final of the Champions League, where they were beaten by Barcelona in Gothenburg.
Having secured so much success during her tenure – which also includes two FA Cup triumphs – Hayes is not about to let the extra attention distract her from the job in hand as Chelsea prepare for Sunday’s WSL opener at Arsenal.
“This is what a lot of us in the women’s game have worked for,” Hayes said.
“I am so happy that we are able to build on the past couple of seasons and now really showcase our talent across even more platforms.”
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) July 2, 2021
Hayes, who signed a new deal with Chelsea in July, added: “This is no different from any other season, there is no difference in terms of what we do this year, we will just try to find our edge.
“I know that teams have improved off the pitch, as they do every year.
“Some teams have invested more into their playing squads than others, but people need to be reminded that we lost to Brighton last year in the league, so you cannot just talk about these top four or five clubs.
“The league as a whole has improved and every single game will be tough.”
Norway captain Maren Mjelde and forward Lauren James, a summer signing from Manchester United, are both unavailable through injury for Sunday’s game, which will be held at the Emirates Stadium.
Hayes said: “Arsenal have been playing the Champions League competitions over the past few weeks, so are already quite played in as a team and I am sure they will relish the opportunity of playing in front of their own fans.
“But I don’t make excuses, my team will be ready.”
Hayes added: “We have a fantastic group of players and we will all be expected to raise the bar if Chelsea are to achieve the same level of success.”
Earlier on Friday, Chelsea announced the appointment of Tanya Oxtoby as assistant coach to Hayes, moving to west London following a three-and-a-half-year spell at Bristol City.