The SPFL and Scottish Women’s Premier League have announced that from next season elite women’s football in Scotland will come under the SPFL’s umbrella with a new league and cup format to be announced in the coming weeks.
A majority of the 17 Scottish Women’s Premier League voted in favour of the move after months of talks over the way forward, with an independent chair, a managing director and an independent non-executive director to be recruited to run the new competitions.
Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell hailed the move, calling it a “positive route forward” for the women’s game in Scotland to continue growing in the future, saying: “The Scottish FA recently published its bespoke women’s football strategy, Accelerate Our Game, and a key pillar of that plan is to take our elite clubs and competitions to the next level. To achieve that we need to optimise the game’s governance and structures and the work undertaken by the Scottish FA, SPFL and SWF, and the clubs within the SWPL, has shown the collective desire to take the game forward.
“With Hampden Park the new home of the Scotland Women’s National Team, and the team playing in front of record crowds, I am delighted that the various constituent parts of the game have come together to agree on a positive route forward for elite women’s football.”
SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster said: “Everyone at the SPFL is hugely excited by the prospect of working closely with the SWPL clubs to help increase the competitiveness, profile and income of elite women’s football in Scotland.
“I have been struck by the ambition of all clubs involved to drive up standards, take the game to the next level and increase participation across the sport.
“It is clear to see the many benefits that increased professionalism has brought to women’s football across the world. We believe we are well-placed to add significant value to the game in Scotland in both a sporting and commercial sense.
“Lastly, I would like to send my thanks to everyone at SWF, which deserves huge credit for the way it has progressed the women’s professional game in Scotland in recent times.”
Scottish Women’s Football chief executive Aileen Campbell said: “SWF is committed to driving the women’s and girls’ game in Scotland. We are therefore determined to do everything we can to support the elite game as it transitions to the SPFL.
“Football can be a huge force for good and we want to maximise its potential to drive positive change across our sport and society. We need to shine a spotlight on player wellbeing, to push for structural change and equality in boardrooms, and to prioritise a respect agenda. SWF stands ready and enthused to support the Scottish football family on that journey.”
The move to the SPFL will mean this season’s SWPL champions will be the last under the current banner – with Rangers and Glasgow City battling it out for the title.
With the growth of women’s football in recent years, the step to join the SPFL seems the right one to grow the cam and continue to promote the game.
The rise of professionalism over the last few years has helped gain new attention to the SWPL and, hopefully, this latest move will help the Scottish clubs rival their foreign counterparts.
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