THE process of identifying a successor to Shelley Kerr will get underway this week. Time is not on the side of the Scottish FA if the new head coach is to be in place for next month's scheduled final two Euro qualifiers.

Unlike 2017, when Kerr was the preferred candidate to replace Anna Signeul – and also available – an obvious successor is not in plain sight. The agents who have latched on to women's football as their latest opportunity. and have clients interested in the job, will be sounding out the governing body.

The salary will determine the calibre of only the fourth Scotland manager since 1998. The previous three – to put it mildly – weren't in it for the money, but times have changed and so, too, have the expectations of the players. The cheap option won't work for anyone.

The ideal candidate will have a CV which includes achievement at club or international level. Both would be even better. And although Kerr ticked the boxes of being Scottish and female, appointing the best person is the priority, not nationality or gender.

The new head coach's contract will logically be for as long as Scotland are involved in the 2023 World Cup. That would be 30 months if the side qualifies for the finals in Australia and New Zealand.

It's a long time to be out of club football, with its increasingly high wages and opportunity to be working with players on a daily basis. The other factor a credentialed candidate will have to weigh up carefully is this: what are my chances of making a success of it?

Although the next World Cup is being expanded from 24 to 32 nations – at least eleven from Europe – it's still a bigger ask than qualifying for the Euros. A lot depends on the luck of the draw, and Scotland have been fortunate in that respect for the last three tournaments.

By far the most important consideration for applicants is the quality of the players and, for a job potentially lasting two and a half years, their age profile. There's no issue whatsoever with the former, but the latter is a different matter.

The originally scheduled Euro 2021 finals in England would have been ideal for Scotland had they qualified. The longest serving players would have been at, or approaching, their peaks.

Take it forward to the late summer of 2023 and around half of the current squad will be over the age of 30. That's huge when there's a dearth of young players coming through to replace them.

There are probably just two credible Scottish candidates. The first, Everton manager Willie Kirk, knows all the players inside out, as do his assistant Chris Roberts and goalkeeping coach Ian McCaldon. The latter was also a member of Anna Signeul's backroom staff.

All three, however, have recently signed contracts taking them through to 2023. Would Kirk want to leave one of the best club jobs in England, and would the SFA be in a position to buy his contract out? Probably not, on both counts.

Glasgow City head coach Scott Booth has a strong record of club success, as well as European Championship and World Cup experience as a player. Both would be to his advantage if he was interested.

Other than that, it's an open field. Speculation outwith Scotland is pointless without knowing how much the SFA, who have been left cash-strapped by the pandemic, are prepared to pay for a stand-out candidate.


ALTHOUGH Sweden were among the trailblazers for women's football in Europe, that reputation took a dive in midweek. Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC announced they were dissolving the team which had recently won the league for the first time, with all the players being released from their contracts.

The decision was actually taken earlier on December 17, and followed a 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the Champions League. That eliminated Goteborg from the tournament and Kopparbergs, the brewery based in the Swedish port, abandoned ship taking their title sponsorship with them.

Goteborg's chairman, who is also chief executive of the cider company, justified the measure by essentially claiming that stand-alone elite women's clubs, like his, could not compete with the new reality of top men's clubs investing heavily in their women's teams.

Happily the outcry which followed has attracted possible new investors, with one scenario being that Goteborg will align with BK Hacken, the most successful men's club in the city. 

If any good is to come from the episode it might be the Swedish authorities seriously questioning whether a brewery should hold such sway over a top football team.