THE news that three Partick Thistle men’s team players have taken over the coaching and management of the club’s Scottish Building Society SWPL2 side has, understandably, generated much comment and interest.

Having spoken to Brian Graham on Tuesday, there is no doubt the 32-year-old striker is committed and enthused about his new role as women’s team manager. He will be assisted by Richard Foster and Ross Docherty.

Ironically, it was the relegation of the men’s team – in controversial circumstances – from the Championship to League 1 which probably paved the way for the move. The third tier will be less demanding of the players, but even so there is still the possibility that a cup game could be switched to a Sunday, setting up a direct clash with Thistle’s SWPL game on the same weekend.

Moving into women’s football is going to be a sharp learning curve for the new manager and his assistants. Graham’s stated aim is to play for a Thistle team which is promoted this season while managing a Thistle side which achieves the same.

Given that his new charges finished fifth in SWPL2 last season, 17 points behind Hearts, the latter is going to be a huge ask for a management team which will have to rely heavily on former player-coach Beth Adamson’s continuing insight.

They will get a sense of the challenge facing them when they play Rangers in a friendly today – albeit that the latter will field a mix of first team and under-19 players.

Nevertheless, Thistle chair Jacqui Low believes the appointments are a big step forward for her club.

“This was not going to be something that was done because it looked good,” she said. “There had to be merit for the team, and also something there for Brian to learn and develop from. I wanted to know his reasons for doing it, and also to be satisfied that he, Richard and Ross had the skills to take the girls forward.

“We have been looking at developing a Partick Thistle way of playing and getting some commonality across the two teams. Happily the two came together with these appointments.

“It’s correct to say they don’t have experience of managing a women’s side – but they have everything else. We can support them to become a solid management team at the same time as they are delivering on the pitch for us.

“They also have fantastic experiences to share. It is what the girls themselves told us they wanted – apart from success they want to be better players at the end of the season than they were at the start. Development was pretty key.

“They are really excited about this and see it as a vote of confidence in them.”

Thistle’s opening SWPL2 fixture is against Glasgow Women on October 18, with the men’s team kicking off their campaign at Clyde a day earlier. Graham, Foster and Docherty are going to be well travelled with away games at Peterhead, Cove Rangers, Forfar and Montrose to contend with in League 1, as well as Aberdeen and Dundee United in SWPL2.

All this, of course, is assuming the two seasons start next month as planned. There are ominous warnings of further restrictions to contain rising Covid-19 cases, but as Low said: “We’ve got to go with the expectation that the seasons will go ahead and plan accordingly. That’s a much as we can do.”

HeraldScotland:

ON that very subject, Scottish Women Football will hold an extraordinary general meeting on September 30 to discuss Covid contingency rules.

It is understood that the clubs have agreed that – in recognition of the challenges the winter is likely to bring – there will be no relegation from SWPL1 in 2020-21. Two teams will, however, be promoted automatically from SWPL2, meaning there will be 10 clubs in the top tier the following season.

What is also significant is the likelihood of a decision on what to do if all three rounds of fixtures can’t be completed because of the pandemic. It is further understood the clubs have agreed in principle that the leagues can be “called” on the basis of points per game, provided two full rounds of fixtures have been played.

Reaching an agreement on these matters before the season starts is sensible – especially if it prevents a repeat of the acrimonious, unseemly and self-interested manner in which the SPFL clubs concluded their 2019-20 season.