PAUL Brownlie beat off stiff competition to be appointed Motherwell head coach on Thursday. His role will include taking charge of the club's academy, an area in which he has years of high level expertise.

Brownlie's stint as head of the Celtic academy coincided with unprecedented achievements for the club's youth teams. He then replaced Willie Kirk as high performance manager at the Scottish FA's national performance centre in 2015.

Originally based at Stirling University, the NPC was instigated by Anna Signeul and Sheila Begbie. By the time of Brownlie's appointment it had moved to Heriot-Watt, and my understanding is that it will cease to exist once the current small intake of students has graduated.

One of the organisations involved in the project, Winning Students, has withdrawn its funding of accommodation costs. Although it has yet to be officially announced, more focus is now likely to be directed towards smaller regional hubs.

Which makes sense, even if superficially the demise of the NPC might appear to be a retrograde step. The increasing amount of professional clubs on both sides of the border will provide in-house environments for the best young players – the days of Signeul pointing rising stars such as Lisa Evans and Emma Mitchell towards the performance centre have long gone.

As with so much Signeul did during her time in Scotland, there has been a lasting legacy. Twelve of the 23 players at the World Cup in France were NPC graduates.

Brownlie will take up his new role on June 7, the day after the Scottish Building Society SWPL1 season ends. There was huge interest in the Motherwell job, with interim head coach Stewart Hall being among the candidates interviewed.

“It was a fantastic opportunity for me and has come at a really good time,” Brownlie, who has also had roles with Scotland squads, said on the morning of his appointment.

“I plan to meet with the current squad next week so that I can set out my standards early in terms of what I'm looking for moving forward. The players have shown an unbelievable commitment to Motherwell and they've maybe not had the rub of the green they've deserved in games.”

Brownlie has already spoken with Hall, who has been impressive during his time in charge. The new head coach names Chloe Arthur, Fiona Brown and Leigh Nicol as the three players he got most satisfaction from developing at Celtic – and particularly Arthur, who wasn't a regular starter for the club's under-15 side.


IT'S a massive day at the top of Scottish Building Society SWPL1. Second place Rangers host Celtic, who are third, while leaders Glasgow City are at home to fourth place Hibernian.

Celtic head coach Fran Alsonso is adamant there is no pressure on his side – his reasoning being that Celtic are expected to finish behind City and Rangers so anything else would be a bonus. By contrast he says that, with their level of investment, it would be a “massive, massive failure” if today's opposition were to finish third and miss out on even the second Champions League place.

Sarah Teegarden will again be missing from for Celtic – she has returned to the United States temporarily – while Rangers will assess the fitness of Carly Girasoli and Kirsten Reilly.

Teenage central defender Girasoli found the net twice with far post headers in the midweek win over Hibs, and was only denied a unique hat-trick by the bar. The Glasgow City player who would have been best equipped to take advantage of any such defensive lapses by Hibs today – Arna Asgrimsdottir – has returned to her Icelandic parent club, Thor/KA.

The good news is that there will be fans inside Broadwood, as there will be at Ainslie Park for Spartans' game against Forfar Farmington. Spectators from Glasgow will not be permitted to travel to Broadwood, but City chief executive Laura Montgomery is delighted nevertheless.

“We're working with the stadium and we'll abide by all the rules to make it as safe as possible for everyone who is there,” she said. “I think we'd have been pretty busy if our main fan base had been able to come.

“Everybody is desperate to get back and watch live football.”


STUART McLaren's reappointment as interim head coach for Scotland's friendlies in Northern Ireland and Wales next month was entirely in keeping with the SFA's lack of urgency to replace Shelley Kerr.

But frustrating and unacceptable though the full five month wait for her successor is, I'm assured white smoke will emerge from the Hampden roof soon.