ANY doubts about Rangers' intent to replace Glasgow City as the dominant force in Scottish women's football were dispelled when it became public knowledge that the club has been trying to sign four top players from their rivals.

Rachel McLauchlan and Nicola Docherty are Scotland internationalists. Sam Kerr looks likely to become one at next month's Pinatar Cup. Striker Kirsty Howat was top scorer in SBS SWPL1 last season and can't be far removed from Shelley Kerr's thoughts.

Had Rangers succeeded in signing the quartet they would overnight have become hot favourites to win the title. As well as gaining four of the best players in the country, they would have seriously weakened the 13-time champions.

In these circumstances, and with agents involved, it is perhaps not surprising that much rancour has ensued. For good or bad, the game in Scotland is in uncharted waters.

It was confirmed yesterday that, as expected, Docherty has joined Rangers. The athletic left back is 27, has 21 caps, and has been combining her football at City with a day job caring for dementia patients in Edinburgh.

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That involved very early morning starts in Falkirk ahead of the journey to Edinburgh and often a gym session before work. In the afternoon it was home again to eat quickly before travelling in the opposite direction to evening training in Glasgow.

The defender was briefly at Rangers before joining City in 2012, and after such a gruelling daily routine returns to the club in the knowledge that she can concentrate on being a full time footballer. And, she will hope, regain her place in the Scotland squad.

Docherty's international career looked to be on the rocks until, after a gap of 21 months, she was called up again at the start of last year. She seized the opportunity and was one of Scotland's best players in the lead up to the World Cup in France – but has now dropped out again with Emma Mitchell returning as first choice left back.

As well as the player, who was a popular member of the City set-up, both her parents had involvements with the club and recent weeks must have been difficult for all concerned. Rangers are understood to have paid City a significant fee – perhaps a first between two Scottish clubs – to secure her release.

Like Docherty, who is additionally a Rangers supporter, none of the other three players involved in the saga were training with City earlier this month. Co-owner Laura Montgomery described them as being “currently unfit” when asked about the situation.

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Kerr, an elegant attacking midfielder, was the first to return and played in Friday night's 2-1 SWPL1 loss to Celtic. McLauchlan, who has a back injury, is also back in the City fold but unable to play until she has recovered.

With the transfer deadline closing at midnight tonight, the position regarding Howat remained unresolved at the time of writing. The 22-year-old striker, who is a PE teacher, was the top scorer in Scotland last season.

Rangers, who signed goalkeeper Jenna Fife and midfielder Chelsea Cornet from Hibernian over the winter, have so far not managed to weaken City to the same extent – but taking players from the two clubs who have previously dominated the domestic scene is the most obvious way to start winning honours.

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THERE was a significant development at Hibs on Friday when captain Joelle Murray became the first of several players who will sign part-time contracts with the club. The name of the team has also been changed from Hibernian Ladies to Hibernian Women – a modernising development even if an emotional attachment to the old name was understandable.

While Hibs have been one of the most attacking, attractive sides to watch in recent seasons, their off-field communication has not reached the same peaks. Hopefully that aspect will now improve along with the part-time contracts and other developments behind the scenes.

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JUST about everything was wrong with Friday night's SWPL1 opener between Celtic and Glasgow City at the K Park. And that's not a comment on the result, with Fran Alonso's side getting off to the perfect start thanks to a last ditch winner from captain Kelly Clark.

February is a challenging enough month to play football in Scotland without switching games from Sunday afternoons to Friday nights. Especially at grounds which have very limited spectator cover and facilities.

Why the season started on February 9, with a four week break to follow in July, remains beyond comprehension. Eight of the scheduled 16 League Cup ties have already had to be postponed.