Celtic Women going full-time hailed a 'potential game-changer' for Scottish game

By Heather DewarBBC Scotland
Celtic's Cheryl McCulloch, Eddie Wolecki Black and Colette Cavanagh
Eddie Wolecki Black (centre) recently became head coach of Celtic Women

Celtic's decision to form Scotland's first full-time professional women's football team next year has been welcomed as a "potential game-changer".

Scottish Women's Football chair Vivienne MacLaren told BBC Scotland that it is "wonderful news".

Celtic already compete in the amateur Scottish Women's Premier League.

"All the other clubs around will sit and take notice and it could be a huge development for the women's game up here," MacLaren said.

"Hopefully this will have a domino effect over the next few seasons."

MacLaren suggested that, while some still "don't take it seriously", there had been a change in the attitude over the last four years by larger clubs who had previously treated the women's game as "a second thought".

Celtic finished third this season, 23 points behind Glasgow City, who have now won the title 12 times in a row.

But Celtic recently appointed former City boss Eddie Wolecki Black head coach and established K Park in East Kilbride as their home base.

Challenge for Glasgow City

Hearts owner Ann Budge last week told her club's annual meeting that the Edinburgh outfit would be making an annual six-figure investment, taking the running of the current SWPL2 team in-house, with an academy structure and the recruitment of a new manager.

Aberdeen last month announced a new in-house team to take over from the independent Aberdeen Ladies, who have been relegated to Division One North.

Rangers, who finished fourth in the top flight, announced at their recent annual meeting that they would be tripling their investment.

It is likely to mean a greater challenge to champions Glasgow and Hibernian Ladies, who are not in-house at Easter Road but who have emerged as City's main challengers in recent seasons and won both cup competitions in the last campaign.

"Often it's been the smaller, independent clubs, like Glasgow City, who have maintained those standards without having the investment," MacLaren said.

'A very exciting time'

A growing number of Scottish players have in recent years moved to England and other professional leagues in Europe and North America.

However, the Scottish FA has already announced that its national squad will be full-time in the lead up to next summer's World Cup finals.

MacLaren thought Celtic's announcement would help capture the moment as the spotlight falls on women's football globally in France.

"It's a very exciting time in the growth of the women's game, not only in Scotland but the UK," she suggested.

MacLaren pointed out that Glasgow had already been able to attract players from abroad "whether they are coming over to study or whether they are doing work for the club as well as playing".

"This puts Scotland on the map for a woman's player who is looking for a move and to play in a professional environment," she added.

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