HARD though it might be for followers of Scottish men's football to assimilate, but neither Celtic nor Rangers has won the SWPL1 title. The formation of their women's teams roughly coincided with the start of Glasgow City's 13 year league domination.

Celtic, whose only trophy win was the 2010 League Cup when Amy McDonald – now the Rangers women's and girls' football manager – was captain, finished second to City in the 2009 and 2010 league campaigns. Rangers were runners-up in 2014, but since then both clubs have trailed not just City, but Hibernian.

To put this in further context, Kilmarnock – champions in 2003, but now in the second tier – have a better record than the two giants of Scottish men's football. Spartans have been runners-up in the league as many times as Celtic and once more than Rangers. So, will 2020 be recalled as the year everything changed?

Celtic finally confirmed last week that they will now move to a professional footing. And although it appears to be a more modest model than the Rangers one, they have far less ground to make up in closing the gap on City.

Rangers have acknowledged this by almost starting from scratch in their recruitment of a squad for the new season. Last year City rested big players when they played Rangers on three occasions ahead of Champions League games, knowing they still had the personnel to win comfortably.

The change of status at Rangers and Celtic means that winning the league, and with it entry to the ever more lucrative Champions League, is now the benchmark. That's what Gregory Vignal will be expected to deliver, as will Eddie Wolecki Black's replacement at Celtic.

The most striking feature of Rangers' recruitment so far, aside from the signing of two players from Northern Ireland, is that it will – intentionally or otherwise – weaken Hibs. They had already persuaded the club's former defender Emma Brownlie to join them last summer and have now added Jenna Fife and Chelsea Cornet.

Striker Carla Boyce has gone in the other direction, but Rangers have had by far the best of the dealings. Nevertheless, whether all the signings announced to date are going to be enough to win the league is an entirely different matter.

Celtic, who finished third behind Hibs on goal difference last season, have provided very few specifics regarding their 2020 plans. Even the identity of the head coach – crucial to the whole enterprise – hasn't been divulged as yet.

It is understood that captain Kelly Clark, who is a qualified accountant, is among those who have opted to be a “continuum amateur player” as the club quaintly worded it. Celtic did not respond to a request for confirmation, just as they didn't when asked for information about the head coach.

Despite finishing a remote eleven points behind Glasgow City in 2019, Celtic have a core of players who, if augmented by new signings, look best placed to give the 13-time champions a proper run for their money.

HUTCHISON Vale's withdrawal from SWPL2 a month before the season is due to start ended a sad episode for the Edinburgh club. They endured a horrendous 2019, losing all 21 of their league games and conceding an average of over ten goals in each of these defeats.

The club failed to fulfil a fixture against Kilmarnock and that would also have been the case with Hearts had the latter not won an appeal to have the game played on a different date. Hutchie Vale lost that game 14-1, but the nadir was a 19-0 trouncing by Hamilton in October.

Despite everything, head coach Ross McLaren had been hopeful that his players could build on their experiences and put up a better showing this year. It hasn't transpired and Boroughmuir Thistle will replace them in the second tier as Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the other contender, did not want to move up.

THE odds against Ronny Deila, the former Celtic men's manager, and Nick Cushing, who is currently in charge of Manchester City women, teaming up together would have been astronomical a week ago. Yet is has now happened, with the Norwegian appointed manager of MLS club New York City FC and Cushing set to join him as assistant next month.

That leaves a vacancy at one of Europe's top clubs. There will be no shortage of candidates, with Scot Willie Kirk, who is at Everton with Chris Roberts, already being mentioned as a possible replacement.

Why Cushing? New York City and Manchester City are both part of the City Football Group