SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster has reaffirmed that the 20 women's clubs which are joining his organisation next season will determine their own policies and outcomes.

Doncaster and Fiona McIntyre, who is in charge of the transition process, outlined their vision for a positive future at a Hampden briefing during the week.

Sitting in the SPFL boardroom, a venue which has seen its fair share of men's football strife over the years, Doncaster said: “There will be nine directors – one SPFL representative, three independents and five from the clubs. The clubs will be driving policy within the SPFL.

“We know what the competition structure will be – leagues of twelve and eight teams. We don't quite know what the composition of SWPL 2 is going to be just yet. When that is clarified you can get all the documents signed to set the competitions up for the following season.

“Then you can have an annual general meeting, elect the board, and press go.”

As McIntyre pointed out, the main driver for the clubs' decision to leave SWF was the belief that the SPFL can deliver substantially higher commercial income. Being in a position to offer players professional contracts is the aim for nearly all the SWPL 1 teams, with Hearts the latest to announce they are going semi-pro next season.

“My hope, and really the whole basis of the SPFL being involved at this stage, is that we can accelerate the huge potential that already exists,” McIntyre confirmed. “I am confident there will be sponsors in place for next season.”

The rebranding of the competitions, with support from Uefa, will begin tomorrow. The recruitment process is already underway.

“There are three key roles,” Doncaster pointed out. “The independent chair, independent non-executive director, and managing director.

“Those positions have been advertised and we're really excited by the calibre of the people who have put themselves forward. What's important is to have the people in for the start of the season.”

“Conversations with broadcasting and commercial partners are happening now. There is an enthusiasm to get involved, and I think it's a tremendously exciting time for the game in Scotland.”

RANGERS will become the seventh SWPL 1 team to play at their SPFL ground this season when they host Aberdeen at Ibrox this afternoon. The sides met at Pittodrie – a first for Aberdeen – last month, with Rangers winning 2-0 courtesy of second half goals from Kirsty Howat and Kayla McCoy.

Howat is one of five players in the home squad who have been Rangers supporters since childhood. The others are Nicola Docherty, Jane Ross, Demi Vance and Megan Bell.

Docherty was taken to Ibrox by her father Nicky, who was a member of Scott Booth's backroom staff at Glasgow City. That ended when the full back joined Rangers towards the end of 2020, along with Howat, Rachel McLauchlan and Sam Kerr.

At the time the multiple player switch seemed likely to deliver Rangers a first-ever SWPL 1 title, but the four month pandemic break halted momentum and Docherty's side finished a poor third behind 14-in-a-row City and Celtic.

“There was a massive disappointment there,” Docherty, who has eight league winners' medals from her time at City, conceded. “We thought we let ourselves down, especially the games against Celtic when we dominated but couldn't put the ball in the net.”

That looks set to be rectified this season, with Rangers five points ahead of City and both contenders having just four games remaining. In many ways a title showdown between the two top sides at Ibrox on May 8 would have been a wonderful opportunity to showcase women's football in front of a probable record crowd, but although considered it won't be happening.

For Docherty, today will be sufficient. “I just got goosebumps when you asked that,” she said in response to my question about how it would feel to run out at Ibrox in front of the home fans. “I'm really excited for the occasion, and for the game in Scotland.”

TYNECASTLE will again be the venue for the Scottish Cup final. Hampden was originally pencilled in, but then ruled out, so the game returns to the ground where Glasgow City beat Hibernian 4-3 to conclude the 2019 summer season.

It would be a home tie of sorts for Hearts should they upset the odds and beat Celtic in next Sunday's semi-final at Falkirk Stadium, but SWF chief executive Aileen Campbell says the other clubs were consulted and raised no objections. Tynecastle is a quality venue and in many ways ideal for big women's games.