RECENT events are casting a shadow over the much anticipated return of Scottish Building Society SWPL football, but the hope is that the restructured season can still go ahead as planned on October 18.

The rise in Covid-19 cases, and increasing Scottish government restrictions, mean no fans will be allowed into the nine games which are scheduled for October 18. This is a reversal of the much more optimistic outlook at the start of the month.

While the continuing absence of spectators is causing huge financial problems for men's football, it shouldn't have the same effect on the women's game. The worry is that the small amount of players, coaches and match officials who were originally going to be allowed into grounds will be cut back even further, making it difficult to stage matches.

The picture should become clearer this week, but while it looks increasingly unlikely that the women's regional leagues will proceed on time, the outlook for the performance clubs is better according to Hamilton assistant manager Bobby Watson.

“The Scottish government and the SFA have referred to the top of women's football as an elite performance sport, so from that point of view I have no concerns that we won't get started,” Watson, who is also an SWPL representative on the league management committee, pointed out. “They've made a commitment to us to try to do everything to ensure we do.

“The Scottish government have been great in promoting elite women's sport, and I would hope that would continue.”

HeraldScotland:

ASSUMING the season does start next month, a number of teams will be playing at different venues.

Petershill Park remains shut because of the pandemic which means Glasgow City will be playing at Clyde's ground Broadwood until January at the very least. Also affected are Partick Thistle, who will move to Lochinch in the south of the city, while Glasgow Women are switching to New Tinto Park.

Another club on the move are Motherwell, this time to Airdrie's Penny Cars Stadium. It's where Glasgow City formerly played and therefore a familiar venue for Motherwell's head of women's football Eddie Wolecki Black. In SWPL2, St Johnstone will play their games at the ground of Kinnoul FC, but may be back at McDiarmid Park in January.

One positive development amid all this is a general upgrade of facilities. As well as Glasgow City, Motherwell and Forfar Farmington, SWPL2 sides Hamilton, Kilmarnock and Stirling University will continue to play at well equipped men's grounds. 

The irony, of course, is that fans won't be able to enjoy the enhanced matchday experiences.

HeraldScotland:

IF all goes according to plan, BBC Alba's first televised game will be Celtic versus Glasgow City – just as it was at the start of the aborted 2020 summer campaign.

So far so predictable, but the rest of the script has been torn up. The game was due to be played at the K Park on the evening of October 16 – bringing the start of the season forward by two days – but that isn't going to happen.

The owners of K Park are unable to accommodate the television cameras and are unlikely to be able to do so for the rest of the year either for logistical reasons. Celtic were unable to find an alternative venue – there is an Old Firm match scheduled for Celtic Park the same weekend – and so all the parties, including Scottish Women's Football, have agreed on a switch to Broadwood, making it a City home game.

It is also still scheduled to be televised by Alba, with a later afternoon kick off than normal. BBC Scotland are expected to stream a different game that day – perhaps Hibernian versus Spartans as they did back when the world was normal in February.

HeraldScotland:

THERE was a well deserved accolade for Scott Booth on Wednesday when he was among ten nominees for the inaugural Uefa women's club coach of the year award. Although he isn't on the short list of three, the former Aberdeen and Scotland striker led Glasgow City into the Champions League quarter finals for the second time in their history.

The subsequent 9-1 defeat to Wolfsburg was disappointing, even in difficult circumstances, but Booth has now been at City for over five years and says his biggest highlights all came at the end of 2019.

He quotes Lee Alexander's saves and Jo Love's clinching penalty in the shoot-out which eliminated Danish champions Brondby in the last 32, as well as Clare Shine's fine goal to wrest the Scottish Cup back from Hibs the following month.