Women's football: SWPL Cup format to change as Rangers up funding

Rangers women
Rangers Women are to go semi-professional next season

Scottish Women's Football will introduce play-offs and a group stage in the Scottish Women's Premier League Cup as of next season.

Two regional divisions will also form a new Championship, which will sit below a 10-team SWPL 2.

The changes come after a six-month consultation among clubs.

"As the game has progressed, the quality at all levels of the game has increased," SWF executive officer Fiona McIntyre said.

"We therefore think it's a suitable time to introduce these play-offs and give teams more opportunity to earn promotion.

"We also believe this will add further excitement and exposure for the whole game at the end of each season."

The main changes include:

  • One automatic promotion and relegation place between SWPL 1, which will remain at eight teams, and an expanded 10-team SWPL 2
  • A one-legged play-off between the seventh-placed SWPL 1 side and second-placed team in SWPL 2
  • Two SWPL 2 teams relegated to the Championship, with regional league winners promoted. Will also be a play-off between the two second-placed Championship sides for the right to meet the eighth-placed SWPL 2 team
  • Top two in SWPL to be given a bye to SWPL Cup quarter-finals
  • Other 16 sides to be split into four groups of four. Group winners and two best runners-up qualify for quarter-finals
  • Rest of teams, bar the two worst-placed bottom sides, will enter a newly created SWPL Plate competition

Rangers to go semi-professional

Meanwhile, all Rangers Women players will become semi-professional next season after the club announced an increase in their investment in Gregory Vignal's side.

And Women's and Girls Academy manager Amy McDonald believes they are moving closer to being a force in Scottish and European football.

Calling it "yet another groundbreaking announcement for women's football in Scotland", she told the Rangers website: "This investment will allow us to recruit and retain the best footballers possible for the club, allowing us to compete domestically and, eventually, within European football."

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women's sport available to watch across the BBC in 2019, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women's sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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