Opinion: 'Its long overdue - but now Scottish Women's football will get the platform it deserves.'
For those involved in the women’s game in Scotland – including players, managers, coaches, fans and journalists – today’s news of a record-breaking deal with Sky Sports to screen the Scottish Women’s Premier League feels like a milestone moment for the women’s game in this country,
While I’m not one for talking business, the investment the Sky Sports deal gives the league is a game-changer.
Considering the Scotland national team made it to two major tournaments in recent years without a professional club in the Scottish leagues is evidence of the talented women’s footballers we have here.
It is great that we now have three professional outfits in the SWPL, with this investment sure to create opportunity for even more.
Having been involved in women’s football for a number of years now, I can’t begin to tell you the difference that makes.
Being able to fully invest in your professional career as an athlete allows you to train properly, eat properly and flourish. Working 9-5, before scoffing down a Tesco Meal Deal prior to training is never going to be the best prep for a top of the table clash at the weekend, is it?
But this is the kind of sacrifice that so many have had to make due to lack of investment – and this deal could change the face of the sport for the better.
However, forget the investment and the opportunities it will create for a moment. For me, the big win is the amount of visibility the Sky Sports deal will create. Football is an emotive game at its core.
Yes, it is only five games, but it is five games where any little boy or girl can watch women footballers, connect with them and idolise them as they have done with Scottish men’s footballers for so long.
In the aftermath of Arsenal Women’s record breaking attendance against Tottenham Hotspur in the WSL this last week, I thought Gunners’ blogger Tim Stillman nailed it with his thoughts on what the game meant.
He said the game represented a chance for newcomers to see that the team were worth investing in emotionally, that people aren’t overly concerned with ‘the product’ but that it is about investing in the characters – and I wholeheartedly agree.
And what this deal will also give to Scottish Women’s football is just that – a chance to build a connection with people.
It will allow fans to invest in a team, a player, a manager emotionally – and that’s where the bedrock of the sport lies. Support, community and connection. You and your team against the world.
Of course there are negatives. A minimum of five SWPL or League Cup matches live each season from 2022/23 seems tiny in comparison to the total number of games played.
However, it does not block live games from being screened live on BBC Sport Scotland and BBC Alba, as they have for a number of seasons now.
The deal simply allows Sky to choose ‘a minimum’ of five games for live coverage – and the spotlight those five games will shine on the league and women’s football in this country is unquestionably massive and much needed.
And if anyone wants to doubt what this deal can provide for Scottish Women’s football, just look at what has happened in England’s WSL since some ‘real’ investment was pumped into it.
Its been long overdue, but now Scottish Women's football will get the platform it deserves.
And trust me, as someone who works within the Scottish women’s game every single week - it will flourish.