A HUGE amount of planning is required ahead of next season's new SPFL women's competitions. It is more or less accepted there will be a top league of twelve teams and a second tier of eight.

Fiona McIntyre, who has been seconded from her role as head of girls' and women's football at the Scottish FA, has plenty on her plate as interim managing director of the new leagues and League Cup. The temporary appointment is logical given McIntyre's previous experience at Scottish Women's Football.

The SWPL clubs have seven representatives on the working group set up to oversee what is essentially the setting up of a new company and competition structure from scratch. Aberdeen, Celtic, Glasgow City, Spartans and Rangers provide the SWPL 1 personnel, while in SWPL 2 it's Boroughmuir Thistle and Kilmarnock. Five of the seven are women.

Four senior SPFL executives, including chief executive Neil Doncaster, are also involved in the process. The intention is to hit the ground running with much-improved sponsorship and broadcasting deals.

Further down the line, there will be an election for five club representatives to join two non-executive directors on the board of the new company. A permanent managing director will be appointed, along with at least two other full-time staff.

On the playing side, a 12-8 structure would mean a reprieve for the team finishing bottom of SWPL 1 this season. As things stand that is Hamilton Accies, who are eight points behind second bottom Hearts with games running out.

Two teams would be automatically promoted. Dundee Utd are as good as over the line already, having won 15 of their 17 games and drawn the other two, while second place is between Glasgow Women, Boroughmuir and Kilmarnock.

Three Championship clubs will be promoted to SWPL 2. The winners of the North and South divisions go up automatically, and there will be a play-off between the runners-up in both to decide the third promotion.

GLASGOW City's hopes of winning a record 15-in-a-row SWPL 1 titles will effectively disappear if they drop points against Celtic at Petershill Park today. Similarly, if Celtic fail to win their prospects of securing Scotland's second Champions League place next season are extinguished.

Having succumbed tamely to Celtic in December's League Cup final, City ran out 2-0 winners when the sides met in the league last month. More of the same will be required from Eileen Gleeson's side this this afternoon, otherwise Rangers, who have dropped only one point all season and are at Hamilton today, look sure to win their first-ever Scottish title.

Their previous highest finish was in 2014 when they finished second, and it is interesting to look back to see how much has changed in less than eight years. It was, first and foremost, a summer season, with the first round of fixtures not played until mid-March.

Twelve teams were in SWPL 1 and geographically it was far more representative of Scotland than this season's overwhelmingly Central Belt league. Aberdeen, Buchan, Forfar Farmington and Inverness City were all participants as, in what seems like a completely different era, were Hutchison Vale and Queen's Park.

The teams met each other once before splitting off into a top six and bottom six playing each other a further twice. Glasgow City won their eighth consecutive title, whilst also setting themselves up for a Champions League quarter final against Paris Saint-Germain the following March.

Eddie Wolecki Black's side finished 17 points clear of Rangers and also Hibernian, who were third on goal difference. Queen's Park and Buchan were relegated.

THE Scotland under-17 side played their first competitive game since October, 2019, on Tuesday. They beat North Macedonia 9-0 and followed up with a 6-0 win over hosts Albania three days later.

The final game is against Azerbaijan tomorrow, and will be another opportunity to rattle in the goals against the weakest nation in the group. The reward, however, will not be a step towards the May finals in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The under-17 (and under-19) Euros have switched to a Nations League-style format and Pauline MacDonald's team are contesting a League B group. They landed there after being relegated from League A in unfortunate circumstances – they were unable to travel to the Netherlands in September for the three group games because of positive Covid tests within the squad.

A win tomorrow will see Scotland promoted back into League A for the next tournament. The current squad appears to be one of the more promising in recent years, but their potential can't be realistically assessed until they face the stronger European nations later this year.