Rangers host Celtic at Ibrox this afternoon, the first time that the stadium has been used for an SWPL game between the two teams. 

The optics, however, of no visiting fans at the game does no-one any favours, not when the game is crying out to attract numbers through the gates.

The argument that increased policing costs were not to blame as Rangers want to protect the ‘family atmosphere’ seems like a nonsense. True, there is not the same aggro and machismo around the women’s game that there is the men’s but ultimately a tiddlywinks game in Glasgow if it were segregated alongside Celtic and Rangers lines of demarcation would attract a certain element.

The game needs to be promoted, it needs to be given as big a platform as possible.
It seems absurd to point this out, but last season’s game where Fran Alonso was headbutted by Rangers coach Craig McPherson was the first meeting between the teams that was showcased on Sky Sports. The scenes were unquestionably unedifying, but it also captured the drama of the derby, of the last minute shift and the emotions that go with it; Alonso later revealed that he had more than 300 texts the following morning when he opened his phone.

That is not an argument for the ugly element of the game – and an element that this fixture has been notable for in the men’s game – but rather a realistic take on the draw when these two teams meet.

It is why there is a move to forever protect the four league meetings in the men’s game in order to appease television companies and it is why when the teams meet it is the only show in town. 

Failing to market it properly is remiss at a time when the game is desperate for promotion.

The clear fear around today’s game is that with Philippe Cement’s side in action in Perth in what is a crucial game in the Premiership title race, that Celtic fans – and fan groups - will use the occasion to hijack entry into a ground where we all know the door has been closed on them.

It goes back to the tedious argument around tickets for the game in the men’s arena but for the SWPL and what it needs, this is a cutting of nose off to spite the face. It is preposterous at a time when the game needs sustained growth and to be marketed to a wider audience. 

Last season saw numbers at Ibrox, Celtic Park and Hampden that broke domestic attendance records but the key this season was always going to be on building on that level of interest, of keeping news on the back pages. 

This afternoon’s game is a key moment in the SWPL title race.

For everyone’s benefit, having a similar scenario as last season would be the ideal as it profiled the league in a way it had not enjoyed before. Jo Potter’s Rangers side have been head and shoulders above Celtic when the teams have met on the two occasions before this afternoon.

The former England internationalist has overseen a development in the squad that has made then the clear title favourites – no-one has beaten them this season – but with just four points between the teams at the top of the table, this afternoon is pivotal in what happens next. 

A Rangers victory would take them seven points clear and reaffirm that suspicion that they will deliver the title with ample change to spare this term. Glasgow City – who would move up to second should they beat Motherwell and Rangers win – will have something to say about that but this game will be the clearest indication yet of whether there is going to be the same close run contest of last season or not.

There should be as many fans as possible in the ground to see it.


As Emma Hayes looks to head the USWNT at the end of this season, ensuring that Chelsea’s focus is all on the silverware they could collect before she waves her farewells hasn’t been her only remit.

About to become the highest-paid coach in the women’s game, Hayes is determined to use her position to shine a light on the difficulties females have in transitioning into a coaching role after their playing career. 

"It's about £10,000 to do a Pro Licence,” she said. “And the wages in the women's game are insignificant compared to the men's game. We have to commit more money to coaches, not just in the women's game, but women coaches in general.

"We have to think about educating players much earlier on in their careers, maybe even during international breaks where there's more downtime,” she said. “And most importantly, support so that they can go through the coach education”.


The return of Jane Ross to the international fold for the Pinatar Cup games later this month is good news for Pedro Martinez Losa.

The veteran striker returns from a complicated ACL injury after an 18-month absence – and with a real sense that she can add something to Scotland’s forward line. 

Following what was a sober Nations League campaign with Martinez Losa’s side struggling to score goals, Ross’ return of 62 goals in 142 games is to be welcomed.

Scotland have struggled for a clinical finisher in the fold with Ross in the position of offering a nose for goal that has been badly missed.