Scottish Women's Premier League: Preview of season as Glasgow City defend
The Scottish Women's Premier League season begins on Sunday amid high-profile exits, calls for club compensation and one team's plan to become the first full-time female side in the country.
Glasgow City did not lose a league game in the last campaign as they wrapped up a 12th consecutive title, with Hibernian - runners-up on the past four occasions - just three points behind.
The Leith side have had better luck in the knockout tournaments, winning both cup competitions in the past three seasons.
"The league will be very competitive," said Fiona McIntyre, executive officer for Scottish Women's Football.
"City and Hibs have both lost players and there are big noises coming from Celtic and Rangers about their investment."
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Lack of compensation 'really disappointing'
Hibs appear to have been hit hardest by departures, with several key personnel moving on, including Abi Harrison, Rachel McLauchlan and Emma Brownlie, who left last month to follow Lucy Graham and Lisa Robertson to clubs in England.
McIntyre says it is "really disappointing" Scottish clubs receive no payments from full-time sides for producing talent.
"They are not getting any financial compensation for the time and resources spent developing these players," she said.
"There has been some movement from Fifa and Uefa in moving professional contracts on to the transfer matching system, the same as the men's game.
"That's a step in the right direction but it doesn't help our clubs right now."
Added competition 'good for the league'
Defending champions City could face a tougher title challenge with Celtic aiming to operate as Scotland's first full-time club later this year, and Rangers also enjoying increased financial backing.
Bosnian striker Lidija Kulis says winning a 13th straight championship will be "difficult" but adds that is "good for the league".
"The other teams are progressing, investing money. It will be tough but we will fight and we know what our plan is," Kulis added.
Celtic issue 'massive statement'
Celtic appointed former City boss Eddie Wolecki Black in July as they target professional status.
Midfielder Kirsty McLauchlan described the move as "a massive statement" and says the club are aiming for a top-two finish.
"City and Hibs have been weakened, they've lost a lot of players, so hopefully we can capitalise on that," she said.
World Cup qualification 'pushes smaller teams'
Shelley Kerr's Scotland booked their place at the Women's World Cup finals for the first time in September.
Motherwell midfielder Sarah Crilly believes that success will drive "smaller teams", such as the Lanarkshire club, to nurture talent that can shine on the international stage.
"If we can develop players who might then get picked up by the bigger teams there is a chance to progress into the squad," said Crilly, who joined the promoted SWPL2 champions and beaten Scottish Cup finalists this year.