DOES the destination of the Scottish Building Society SWPL1 title now rest between Rangers and Glasgow City? On the evidence of last Sunday's games that would appear to be the case.

There are – provided all goes according to plan – still 13 rounds of matches to be played, so Celtic may be sanguine about dropping five points off the pace at this stage. But the nature of their 3-0 home defeat to Glasgow City seven days ago was not a good portent.

Like City, Rangers were impressive when beating Hearts 6-0, and it will be a fascinating, as well as pivotal, contest when the teams meet on May 9. They have contrasting styles and different age profiles.

Celtic, who successfully applied to have the postponement of today's game against Hearts reversed, have to find a way of beating Rangers on April 21. They inflicted the league leaders' only defeat in the first round of games.

The longest-serving head coach in SWPL1, Debbi McCulloch, is among those who believe it has become a two way title race. Her side beat Hibernian 2-0 seven days ago to move up to fourth, four points behind Celtic.

“Looking at the games last Sunday I certainly think the title will be between Rangers and Glasgow City,” McCulloch said. “City have really improved with their recruitment and shouldn't be underestimated, but with Rangers' attacking ability and midfield I'd say they are probably favourites to edge it.”

Spartans have won four of their last five games and have the second best defensive record in the league behind Rangers. That will be given a severe test when the sides meet in this afternoon's BBC Alba televised game.

“After the first lockdown we really focused on our defensive style of play,” the league's only female head coach explained. “Also, we've got players who are real warriors and aren't afraid to put their bodies on the line – everybody buys in to what we're trying to do on and off the pitch.”

That's a two-way process. McCulloch has confirmed that a change of ownership structure at Spartans, accompanied by new investment, will see players offered part-time contracts next season.

FIONA McIntyre, the new head of girls' and women's football at the Scottish FA, will have a far more strategic role than her predecessor Donald Gillies. Among her priorities will be finally embedding women's football within the committees and boards that matter at Hampden.

Some detail can be expected when the women's strategy is unveiled. It has been ready to go for months, but the SFA won't release it until their corporate strategy has been rolled out. Don't expect movement before the summer.

Nor, unfortunately, does there appear to be much urgency in appointing a new Scotland head coach. There will be team activity in the June international window – but no guarantee that somebody will be in place by then.

Having only recently taken charge of the process, McIntyre can't be blamed for the snail-like pace. However, with World Cup qualifiers due to start in September there surely needs to be an appointee on the premises for the June camp.

It might be palatable if an outstanding head coach was confirmed by then, but couldn't start straight away. Nevertheless, over three months have already elapsed since Shelley Kerr vacated the position.

One positive development McIntyre was able to flag up when she talked to the media on Thursday was the prospect of a Scotland under-23 side emerging next year. “This would keep talented under-19 payers engaged for longer in an international environment,” she correctly pointed out.


THE recently published “Arrival: How Scotland's Women Took Their Place on the World Stage and Inspired a Generation” by Steven Lawther is very well constructed and a must read for followers of the national team.

The book largely deals with the period from Anna Signeul's appointment in 2005 to the end of the World Cup in 2019. It is viewed through the eyes of the players, as well as Signeul and Kerr.

It is, therefore, inevitably a subjective narrative. Anybody looking for insights on some of the tensions which accompanied the journey won't find them them here.

“I chose to not dwell on issues like that,” Lawther, whose daughter plays football, pointed out. “If I had, it would have eclipsed the story I was trying to tell.

“This is intended to be an affectionate look at the people involved, and how they've moved the game on. It's selective, and not the absolute oracle about the team.”

Available, price £12.99, from Pitch Publishing