THE Football Association has closed the door on any attempt by Glasgow City to join the English Women's Super League.
The Scottish champions revealed they were considering the move because the game in Scotland is not expanding at the same pace as their ambitions.
City, who meet Arsenal in a friendly at Petershill Park on Sunday, have several concerns. These include the standard of domestic competition, losing their best players to European clubs without recompense, and a lack of funding by the Scottish Football Association.
The WSL in England, which was formed in 2011 and has eight clubs, is expanding next year. The FA-organised league is looking for up to 20 teams, playing in two divisions, and had indicated to City that Scottish clubs could apply.
City have won the Scottish Premier League title for the last six seasons; the last time they were beaten in a league game was 2008. Eddie Wolecki Black, the coach, has said that the lack of competition does not prepare his side for Champions League games. He will have to go into this campaign without Scottish internationalists Jane Ross and Emma Mitchell, who recently joined Swedish and German clubs. Like another Scotland player, Lisa Evans, who moved to Turbine Potsdam last summer, the club developed the others from an early age.
The chairwoman, Carol Anne Stewart, and manager Laura Montgomery, who founded City in 1998, have grown increasingly agitated. "We developed these players to a level where they can play professionally and we didn't get a penny compensation for them," Montgomery said. "That means we've nothing to invest towards young players coming through. It costs a lot of money to run our club."
Much of the frustration is directed at the SFA. "The difference between Scotland and England is that the FA are investing seriously in women's football," said Stewart. "This is where the SFA are miles behind. They don't recognise the potential – they are really blind to it.
"Joining the WSL is something we discuss regularly. They have a TV deal with ESPN and [apparently] there is a much better one in the offing. Given the ambitions of our club it would be naive not to want to be part of that."
UEFA have already sanctioned a cross-border women's league in Belgium and the Netherlands but an FA spokesman insisted last night that only English clubs would be considered for the expanded WSL.
"That is disappointing and surprising," said Montgomery. "When we talked to the WSL at the outset there was never any suggestion that being a Scottish club would be an obstacle if we wanted to apply in the future."