EILEEN Gleeson begins her tenure as Glasgow City head coach today when her side play Spartans in the first of two League Cup semi-finals at Forthbank Stadium. Perhaps fittingly, given her arrival makes it a record four out of ten female head coaches in SWPL 1, Gleeson's first adversary is Debbi McCulloch.

The latter is by far the longest-serving manager in the top flight, albeit with a break in the middle since her appointment in April, 2010. There have been other female head coaches in SWPL 1, but more often than not it has been only McCulloch.

“The lack of females at the top end of the game has always been a concern for me,” she pointed out. “I've always asked the question why, but now we have players coming through like Leanne Ross and Katie Reilly, who is on our coaching staff. It's important that we invest and give female head coaches greater opportunities.

“For too long it has been lopsided and male-dominated. And if I'm being honest, it would take a real sliding doors moment for women coaches to be offered a top job in Scottish men's football.”

Gleeson, who signed off as Vera Pauw's Republic of Ireland No 2 with a 1-0 World Cup win over Anna Signeul's Finland in Helsinki last month, added: “As an over-arching philosophy it should be the best person for the job.

“But it's important for young girls to have the visualisation that female coaches can reach the top of the game. There's no difference between men and women in their ability to understand football.”

The draw means either Gleeson or McCulloch's team will be in the final. No female head coach has led a team to one of the Scottish game's three top prizes.

A GREAT deal has changed since the clubs in today's second semi-final last met in the League Cup. That was in the 2018 final, when Hibernian hammered Celtic 9-0.

Amy Muir, who was selected in the most recent Scotland squad, hadn't made her move from Rangers to Hibs at the time, but was at Falkirk Stadium as a spectator.

“There was an expectation Hibs would win in that manner, but coming away from the game there was a feeling of should it ever be a score like that in a cup final?” the full back pointed out.

It was certainly a wake-up call for the club whose men's side were the champions of Europe in 1967. Since then Celtic have invested in the women's operation and last season finished 24 points ahead of their 2018 tormentors in the league.

The most recent encounter between the sides in September hints at a closely contested game, even if Celtic remain favourites. Last Sunday's defeat to Rangers ended a superb 25-game unbeaten domestic run which stretched back to March 2020 and included 22 wins.

Celtic's renewal is not all that has changed. Hibs lost eight of the starting eleven from the 2018 final without receiving a penny in compensation. So strong was their squad back then that Jenna Fife, Cailin Michie, Jamie-Lee Napier and Kirsten Reilly – all now professional players at other clubs – were only on the bench.

THE late Tommy Docherty famously quipped that he'd had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus. Although she's still in the junior section, London Pollard appears to be heading in that direction also.

The 17-year-old striker, who has bags of potential, has played for four different SWPL 1 teams in the last eight months. She joined Celtic from Forfar Farmington in May, and played first team football for both clubs last season.

Pollard was loaned out to Partick Thistle at the start of this campaign, and then joined Motherwell on a permanent basis last weekend, coming on as a substitute in the 4-3 win over Aberdeen.

Eyebrows were raised at the Motherwell move as Pollard has also played for Celtic's under-19 side this season and two clubs is the maximum. However, an SWF spokeswoman said the Scottish FA had approved the move as only senior first team appearances are considered.

ACCORDING to usually reliable sources, it was fortunate Greta Thunberg wasn't in a position to pronounce judgement on aspects of Tuesday's three hour meeting between SWPL 1 clubs and SWF. It does, however, appear to have concentrated minds on the urgent need to have a new governance model in place from next season onwards.

Progress is expected over the next few weeks. And in a further positive development I understand SWF will be announcing a new league sponsor imminently.