ELEVEN years ago the Football Association was being slammed for a lack of commitment to women's football. The reason? The English governing body delayed the 2010 start of the FA WSL for a year, citing budgetary problems.

“Another kick in the teeth for women's football,” was one of the comments in a contemporary report. “You have to question their commitment to the women's game,” was another.

These sentiments seem surreal now. The league started a year later on April 13, 2011 – and has evolved beyond all recognition from the original eight team format which included Lincoln Ladies and Doncaster Rovers Belles.

Monday's announcement of a three-year television deal which will see up to 22 live games on the BBC, and 44 on Sky, will hugely grow the audience for England's top women's league. That it will bring in £7m-£8m a season isn't too shabby either.

“It's huge and exactly what the game needed to keep it pushing on to another level,” Caroline Weir told me on her return from Manchester City's Champions League midweek defeat to Barcelona. As one of the league's top players, the Scotland midfielder will benefit from a higher profile and accompanying fringe benefits.

Whatever the misgivings about its dangerous resurrection of a “Team GB” at the Olympics, the FA has completely turned around the 2010 perception of being lukewarm about women's football. The decision to invest heavily is starting to reap handsome rewards.

Although it's unfair to directly compare and contrast – the FA is on a different planet financially – what's happening down south isn't a good look for the Scottish FA. The pandemic has only emphasised how little domestic women's football engages the minds of the decision makers.

That's a huge problem, because if the elite end of the game is to thrive it makes sense for the SFA to run it. The current governing body, Scottish Women's Football, is an affiliated national association (ANA) – which gives it as much influence at Hampden as a fly in the ear of an elephant.

SWF, who are expected to give second interviews this week to the three candidates in line to replace Fiona McIntyre as executive officer, does have a role to play. It should, however, be in administering and promoting the recreational game.

Before the pandemic, the Scottish Building Society SWPL clubs looked certain to become part of the SPFL – or a subsidiary of it – but that is now on hold. It's probably still the most likely outcome, but will the SPFL really have the best interests of the women's clubs at the forefront of their agenda?

The SFA, who like the FA forced women's football underground between the 1920s and 1970s, has a responsibility to not only atone for their predecessors' discrimination but also their own neglect over the last 18 months. That's how long it took to recruit McIntyre to fill the head of girls' and women's football vacancy – and we are still awaiting the strategic review, the distribution of the remaining 2019 World Cup money, and the appointment of a new Scotland head coach.

There will be no national team activity next month either, but that's the least of it. Women's football needs to be represented on the SFA board and finally given the support which will allow it to fulfil its potential.

HeraldScotland:

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WHILE it might not be on the scale of the FA WSL announcement, there is good news to report about SWPL1 television coverage.

BBC Scotland are to resume streaming a live game every Sunday. That means, with BBC Alba having also made a historic commitment to cover seven consecutive live games, there will be a previously unthinkable menu of matches to choose from.

But it gets better. As of next Sunday evening there will also be a 30 minute SWPL1 highlight show on the BBC Scotland channel, initially to be presented by Jane Lewis. In addition to footage from the two live games, the other two will be covered by single cameras.

Changed times indeed.

HeraldScotland:

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WHILE Scottish Building Society SWPL2 clubs remain in frustrated limbo about a restart to their season, the top tier returns on Sunday. The eight clubs will be told by SWF tomorrow what the contingency plans are in the event of further pandemic disruption.

Although the intention is to play 14 more games, that now depends on a guarantee being given by April 26 that expensive PCR testing will end on May 17. If that doesn't happen the season will be called after just seven more games.