Glasgow City braced for challenge of Rangers and Celtic in SWPL

A season like no other in Scotland gets underway tonight when Celtic host 13-time champions Glasgow City in the opening fixture of the 2020 SBS SWPL1 campaign.

Players from the 18 member clubs gather to promote this season’s SWPL, which kicks off with Celtic v Glasgow City this evening. Picture: SNS.
Players from the 18 member clubs gather to promote this season’s SWPL, which kicks off with Celtic v Glasgow City this evening. Picture: SNS.

The game has been brought forward from Sunday to accommodate live television coverage by BBC Alba.

For more than a decade the strongest challenge to City has come from Hibernian, but the introduction over the winter of almost fully professional squads at Celtic and Rangers has transformed the landscape. Both clubs will be expecting league titles and trophies in exchange for their investments.

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Rangers have been particularly active in the recruitment market. They dispensed with almost their entire 2019 squad in November, and players have been brought in from India, Canada, England and Northern Ireland, as well as Scotland goalkeeper Jenna Fife and midfielder Chelsea Cornet, both from Hibs.

But while the latter two signings have weakened the Edinburgh club, who have lost a stream of top players to the Women’s Super League in England over the past two years, City have so far remained unscathed. None of their squad has departed for either of their Glasgow rivals, but it has emerged that Rangers have been trying to sign four of their players.

The quartet – international full-backs Rachel McLauchlan and Nicola Docherty, midfielder Sam Kerr, and last season’s SWPL1 top scorer, Kirsty Howat – are still at City. The women’s transfer window in Scotland closes at midnight on Sunday.

City co-owner Laura Montgomery said of the four players: “There has been interest from Rangers. There has also been interest from many other teams for our players. Not just Rangers.”

Asked if the four were training with the club ahead of tonight’s game, Montgomery replied: “Three of the players are currently unfit. The other one is fit and is training.”

Kerr, a classy 20-year-old attacking midfielder who has been included in the Scotland squad for next month’s Pinatar Cup against Ukraine, Iceland and Northern Ireland, is understood to be the player available for selection against Celtic tonight.

“At this point in time Glasgow City has not accepted a bid from any club,” Montgomery continued in relation to the four. “They are currently contracted 
to Glasgow City.

“The window closes at midnight on Sunday. I think we all know in football things change. For example I’d like to think we’ll get at least one more player in. Will that happen? I don’t know.”

City themselves signed two new players this week – Northern Ireland internationalist Lauren Wade and young Australian striker Aoife Colvill. Tonight’s opponents Celtic have also been active under new Spanish head coach Fran Alonso, with the notable arrival of another striker, Anita Marcos, on loan from Atletico Madrid 
on Tuesday.