In May 2019, a crowd of 18,555 waved off the Scotland women’s national team from Hampden Park as they prepared for their first ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup in France.

It was not quite Ally’s army but the sense of optimism, the sense of positive energy and cultural change was impossible to ignore among an eager, familial crowd. Unlike Ally, they did not expect a shiny trophy to come back with Shelley Kerr’s side but, rather, what they felt they were on the cusp of achieving was something intangible; a levelling out of the playing field for the country’s female players.

The first national team to make it to a major tournament - male or female - for 20-odd years seemed to embody all the elements of a new frontier.

If it all felt so very new, the ending felt as wearily familiar as a piece of gum that had been chewed for too long; a sad dismissal from the tournament was further soured by the fall-out, alcohol fuelled, which followed.

Accusations of toxicity within the camp and individuals singled out for abuse were the whispers that duly emerged. They have remained nothing more than whispers because no-one has ever felt emboldened enough to speak publicly about what went on in the aftermath of that campaign.

There has been an omerta about a now infamous debrief that makes it difficult to get a full handle on what went wrong when so much had been going right.

If feathers remained unruffled publicly on the back of that tournament, the underbelly was something else entirely. 

And yet the same squad and same management team were charged with leading the following European Championship campaign that seemed doomed before it began. Accounts of how that came about differ sharply; one theory circulates that the management team remained in situ at the behest of players who wished the collective to remain, others have refuted that in the strongest possible terms.

What was notable, though, was that eighteen months later on a bleak December evening the team, the spine of which was still the same as the World Cup one, went out of the running for the Euros limply and in front of a small band of hardy supporters.  The contrast could not have been more acute.

As players tearfully left the pitch, Lisa Evans lamented the “lack of professionalism” in the set-up, the first public raising of head above the parapet. It was an obvious nod to what followed onto legal discourse.

It is highly unlikely that it would have been in anyone’s interests for all of that dirty laundry to be aired at a tribunal this week as resolution was found between the SWNT and the SFA.

The only certainty that can be alluded to now is that Pedro Martinez Losa has created a notably progressive culture within the national side. Babies have been welcomed into camp to encourage players with infants to remain in the team, debriefs around emotional, physical and mental wellbeing have become the norm at team meetings and there is a sense of quiet camaraderie within the squad.

It is interesting that prior to his appointment there was a strong indication from the national team players that their wish was for a male rather than a female coach.

The ill feeling between players and the SFA will not disappear with this week’s decision to park the legal case. The governing body was at pains to stress across the last nine months as this case has rumbled in the background that neither male nor female players are paid for playing for their country but rather receive a “per diem” rate which has been the same since 2017. They are incentivised to qualify for major tournaments for which they receive the same percentage of the prize money on offer. Promotional appearances are paid at the same rate.

The big headache here is not an unwillingness on the part of the SFA to strive for parity but rather having the full economic means in which to deliver it. And what that boils down to is the same old commercial revenue and sponsorship argument.

The days of women being handed down old, ill-fitting strips and dismissed as little more than a laughable sideshow have long gone.

Striving for parity is a necessary fight but it will come when those who really run the game - the broadcasting giants and the major commercial sponsors - put their hand significantly deeper into their pocket.


Scotland kick off their inaugural Nations League campaign this Friday as they head to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light with 40,000 tickets already sold for the game.

On Tuesday the following week (26th) Scotland take on Belgium at Hampden as they look to get a fresh campaign off to a solid start.

Pedro Martinez Losa’s side are unbeaten since their World Cup play-off defeat and, with this tournament offering a route into EURO 25, it is imperative that they sustain that. 


Glasgow City will be left to carry the can for Scottish football in Europe after they drew SK Brann in the Champions League play-off draw this week.

Leanne Ross’ side have twice been at the quarter-finals of the Champions League - the last independent team to reach that point in the competition.

The first leg of their tie is at Petershill Park next month with optimism around a strong crowd to give them a strong start on a journey they hope will take them back into the group stages of the competition.