advertisement

Rangers finished seven points ahead of Glasgow City last season to win their first ever women’s title

SWPL1: Rangers v Glasgow Women
Venue: Broadwood Stadium, Cumbernauld Date: Sunday, 7 August Time: 16:00 BST
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Sport website, app & iPlayer. Highlights of all SWPL games on BBC Scotland on Monday at 19:00

The ticker tape from England’s Euro 2022 celebrations have barely been cleaned up and yet the new Scottish Women’s Premier League season is already upon us.

While it is hoped women’s football north of the border benefits from a knock-on effect of England’s maiden championship win, the league is embracing a new era.

advertisement

After 14 seasons at the top, Glasgow City have been dethroned, with Rangers in the unfamiliar territory of being defending champions.

Both clubs will attempt to reach the promised land of the Champions League group stage, while Celtic aim to go one better than winning the domestic cup double last season.

All this is played out on a new landscape, with the SWPL having moved to the Scottish Professional Football League.

BBC Scotland takes a look at what to keep your eye on as a new season gets under way on Sunday.

A new era

The SWPL is now under the auspices of the SPFL, which runs the men’s senior game.

SWPL1 will have a 12-team top flight from this season, with SWPL2 expanding to eight. The top league will split after 22 matches and teams will twice play the sides in their half of the table.

SPFL chief executive Neil Doncaster praised the clubs’ “ambition to drive up standards, take the game to the next level and increase participation”.

And Fiona McIntyre, who was appointed SWPL managing director in July, says a switch of governance for the top two tiers should “accelerate” a move to full-time professional football.

“We would love the top league in the first instance to become a full-time professional league,” said McIntyre.

Celtic came out on top against Glasgow City in both domestic finals last season

Who will win the league?

Rangers won the championship for the first time in their history last season; finishing seven points clear of City, with Celtic 10 further back.

It has been another summer of change for Malky Thomson’s side. They have outgrown the Rangers training centre where they were playing their home games, and instead will move to Broadwood Stadium to satisfy the demand of those wishing to buy season tickets.

They are not the only ones switching stadiums – Hibernian are moving back to Edinburgh after a stint in Livingston, with the new Meadowbank Stadium opening its doors to them.

Rangers have also been busy in the transfer market. Brianna Westrup, Kirsten Reilly and Chantelle Swaby have moved on, but the squad has been bolstered considerably with goalkeeper Victoria Esson and forward Dina Orschmann moving from the German Bundesliga.

Also arriving are Finnish midfielder Jenny Danielsson, Scottish youth international defender Kathryn Hill, French defender Lisa Martinez and perhaps the pick of the bunch, midfielder Colette Cavanagh, who was Hibs’ star player.

Rangers have already set down a marker, beating Celtic 2-1 in the inaugural City of Glasgow Women’s Cup. But it came at a cost, with the loss of Scotland striker Jane Ross to a cruciate ligament injury.

Celtic and Glasgow City are likely to be their biggest challengers. City have gone global again with their signings – Mexican forward Desiree Monsivais, USA defender Erin Greening, New Zealand defender Meikayla Moore and Turkish midfielder Dilan Bora have all made their way to Petershill Park.

Celtic surprisingly have not been as busy. Shen Menglu, Amy Gallacher, Liv Fergusson and Lucy Ashworth Clifford have checked in, while defenders Cheyenne Shorts and Jodie Bartle have departed.

But after winning the domestic cup double last season, and with key quartet Jacynta, Chloe Craig, Caitlin Hayes and Kelly Clark all signing new deals this summer, head coach Fran Alonso clearly believes he has the basis of a side ready to go for the big one.

Can Scotland make their mark in Europe?

In August, two sides again try to navigate their way through the Champions League qualifiers.

It is Rangers’ first stab at it, and they have a trip to the sweltering heat of Greece for their four-team mini-tournament.

They first face Hungarians Ferencvaros, and should they win that then the winners of hosts PAOK’s game with Swansea City await.

For Glasgow City, they have a huge task against Serie A giants Roma. Pull off victory against their illustrious rivals and they have a potential rematch with Swiss side Servette – who knocked them out last season – or Paris FC.

What Eileen Gleeson’s side do have in their favour though is home advantage, as City will host their mini-tournament.

Should either Scottish side make it past the first hurdle, they will face a two-legged tie in qualifying round two, with the winners progressing to the 16-team group stage that starts in October.

Can anyone outside Glasgow win silverware?

A combined crowd of 9,020 attended the two Edinburgh derbies held at Easter Road and Tynecastle last season

Hibernian will, as ever, be intriguing. Fourth last season, they have announced full-time contracts to players this summer which should, on paper, make them more competitive against the three Glasgow sides who finished above them.

Having lost Cavanagh and Gallacher to either side of the Old Firm, while the influential Rachael Boyle is out of action this season as she awaits the birth of her second child, there are gaping holes in the team to be filled.

But they have attempted to fix that with Swedish forward Nor Mustafa, Norwegian goalkeeper Benedicte Haland and Liverpool loanee Lucy Parry among those arriving in Leith.

Aberdeen impressed after promotion by finishing in the top half of the table, although only defender Eirinn McCafferty has been added, with co-managers Emma Hunter and Gavin Beith looking instead towards their youth system.

Hearts, after a season of transition under Spaniard Eva Olid, have moved to a semi-professional set-up, with key additions such as ex-Hibee Emma Brownlie and New Zealand’s Katie Rood. Their semi-professional status follows a similar announcement by Edinburgh rivals Spartans.

Motherwell have strengthened with Emily Mutch, Brogan Anderson and Lucy Ronald all standouts at their former clubs.

Dundee United and Glasgow Women – who face Rangers in their opener on Sunday – are the promoted sides and face a baptism of fire in the top flight.