ACCELERATE Our Game is the name of the new five-year women's football strategy. Hopefully the correct pedal will be used for its implementation, as it was the brake which caused it to be delivered several months behind schedule.

The strategy is required because the important game-changing processes implemented by Anna Signeul, with the help of former head of women's football Sheila Begbie, have lost momentum since the Swede's departure in 2017.

Begbie's most recent successor, Fiona McIntyre, is tasked with ending the recent inertia and delivering the strategy. It comes at a crucial time for the sport, which has to recover from the setbacks of the pandemic.

It may seem illogical to state momentum has been lost when the number of professional players in Scotland has risen so sharply over the last 18 months. At the time of the strategy's publication there were 71, including 30 internationalists from eight different countries.

Nevertheless, what's concerning is that there is very little commercial revenue coming into the sport. Until that changes, the professional edifice is built on straw and only sustainable for as long as clubs are prepared to underwrite it.

Glasgow City, and this season Celtic, will have Champions League revenue, but none of the three domestic competitions has a sponsor, never mind the type of prize money which would begin to pay professional salaries.

Similarly, the current broadcast deals, while important for raising the profile, are not significant income generators. And even in normal times gate money is negligible.

In this regard the strategy's aim of implementing an improved governance model by the 2022-23 season is absolutely vital. The options for the elite leagues appear to be threefold – the SWPL clubs can remain under the auspices of SWF; they could join the SPFL; or they could form their own independent organisation.

There is a fourth option, and probably the most sensible one, but it doesn't appear to be on the table. If the Scottish FA had the will, they could do as their counterparts have done so successfully in England and run the top leagues directly, using their commercial staff to bring in sponsors and revenue.

Which brings us to another essential aim of the strategy – “to ensure women's football is appropriately represented and has a voice on key decision-making bodies”.

This, one would assume, should finally mean having a voice on the main SFA board. The strategy correctly identifies women's football as the national game's biggest growth area – and after 148 years of focusing almost entirely on men's football the governing body need to take advantage.


THE 2021-22 SWPL1 fixtures, it has emerged, conflict with the principle of sporting fairness.

Because the ten clubs play three rounds of fixtures – 27 games – it is inevitable that some will play more away games than home ones, and vice versa. But while a 14-13 split in these circumstances is acceptable, 15-12 manifestly isn't.

Yet this is the disadvantage newly promoted SWPL2 champions Aberdeen will start with when the league season gets underway on September 5. Already facing by far the most demanding travel schedule, they are the only one of the ten teams which will have 15 away fixtures.

It gets worse. Aberdeen are at home for only three of their last nine games.

Senior Scottish Women's Football personnel were on annual leave last week, but I'm led to believe the fixtures model is predicated on what happened in 2020-21. Thus, if Team X played Team Y twice at home and once away last season, the games between the clubs have been flipped for the new campaign.

Adding to this extraordinary reasoning, Aberdeen have apparently been promised 15 home games and 12 away in 2022-23 as compensation. This only works, of course, if they stay in the league and aren't relegated.

“For me it doesn't sound like a fair process,” Aberdeen manager Emma Hunter understandably points out. “The explanation is that last season some teams lost out, so they've got to be accommodated. I don't understand that logic.

“We're away for six out of our last nine games. That could have a massive impact on where we finish in the league.”


SARAH Ewens joined Scott Booth's Birmingham City on Tuesday and she is unlikely to be the last Celtic first team player moving on.

SWPL1 player-of-the season Lisa Robertson has not been training with the club, and I understand a statement on the Scotland midfielder's future is imminent. Striker Mariah Lee is another likely departee, but there have been new signings, the latest being American central defender Cheyenne Shorts.