A NEW chapter for women’s football in Scotland will begin on Wednesday when the inaugural annual general meeting of the top 20 clubs is held at Hampden. As outlined last week, five representatives will be voted on to the new SPFL subsidiary board.

Whether by coincidence or not, this major change arrives at the same time as Celtic and Rangers are starting to make their presence felt on the pitch. Prior to this season they had won just one of the top three domestic trophies between them – the 2010 League Cup – but Celtic repeated that feat in December, while Rangers have claimed a first league title without losing a match.

Glasgow City need to beat Celtic in next Sunday’s Scottish Cup final to avoid missing out on a trophy for the first time since 2003. Given they have constantly driven up standards in Scotland, it would be fitting for the club to be represented on the new board, not least because, as a stand-alone women’s club, they have a different perspective.

On the pitch, City face mounting future challenges. Money, regrettably, calls the shots in European football and Celtic and Rangers have always enjoyed that advantage in the Scottish game.

Rangers beat their oldest rivals 3-1 last Sunday to make it 25 league wins and two draws and with the highest budget will go into next season as the obvious favourites. Yet as recently as 2019, girls’ and women’s manager Amy McDonald, who was head coach at the time, was washing the team’s strips and fulfilling other functions not in her job description.

The World Cup in France that summer finally awoke the club to the potential of women’s football. McDonald was asked by then chairman Dave King to make a presentation to the board, and that led to the decision to invest properly in the team.

Yet despite the first title win, McDonald doesn’t believe Rangers will emulate the 14-in-a-row record of the club she once played for before becoming their head of youth.

“I honestly don’t think anyone will ever achieve what Glasgow City have done,” she said. “It’s going to become more and more difficult because so many other clubs have started to invest. Who knows where Scottish women’s football will be in five years’ time – I didn’t think we’d be where we are now.”

McDonald, who was at the Europa League final in Seville in midweek along with a number of the players, can now claim a unique double. Having created the environment which delivered Rangers their first women’s trophy, she was also captain of the Celtic side which won theirs in 2010.

ERIN Cuthbert won player-of-the-match, and scored a brilliantly struck second goal, as Chelsea beat Manchester City 3-2 after extra time last Sunday to retain the Women’s FA Cup. The Wembley final was watched by a competition record crowd of 49,094.

Earlier in the day, an under-15 schoolgirls’ match between Scotland and England finished 3-3. It was played at Ravenscraig Stadium in Greenock to mark the 50th anniversary of the first official senior international match between the two countries.

That was also held at Ravenscraig Stadium, a venue chosen because the Scottish FA would not permit women to play football at member clubs’ grounds. The Scotland team travelled from Glasgow to Greenock for their final training session in the back of a furniture lorry they had to flag down after their minibus failed to turn up.

Elsie Cook, who was secretary of the newly formed Scottish Women’s Football Association at the time, and heavily involved in the organisation of the first international match, was impressed with the schoolgirls’ standard of play last Sunday.

“They’re so fit, fast and determined – and technically very good,” she said.

Cook then went home to watch a recording of the Wembley final and was delighted by Cuthbert’s goal. Both are from Ayrshire and keep in touch.

The crowd, and the venue, for the FA Cup final show how much has changed for women’s football since 1972 – albeit that most of the significant improvements have all come comparatively recently.

CONGRATULATIONS to Lyon, who won a record eighth Champions League when they beat holders Barcelona 3-1 in last night’s final at Juventus Stadium.

All the goals came in the first half, with Amandine Henry setting the tone when she put Lyon in front with a spectacular long-range strike after only six minutes.

Favourites Barcelona were three down at one point, and although Alexia Putellas got one back, Lyon stayed in control and were deserved winners.