World Cup could lead to fully professional Scottish league - SFA’s Ian Maxwell

Ian Maxwell has hinted that Hampden Park could be used for more women's internationals. Picture: SNS.
Ian Maxwell has hinted that Hampden Park could be used for more women's internationals. Picture: SNS.
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Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell says the impact of the women’s World Cup will be “transformational” and could lead to a fully professional league in Scotland.

Although Celtic – who are expected to reveal their plans shortly – are the only club to have said they intend to go full-time, Maxwell believes more will follow because sponsorship for women’s football is on the increase.

“The impact of the tournament will be huge, transformational to be honest,” Maxwell, who is attending all three Scotland Group D games in France, said. “It has been talked about a lot back home and, six to 12 months ago, it probably wasn’t being talked about on the same level.

“It’s up to the association to try to gauge that interest and drive it forward. Women’s football is on a journey and this is a massive part of increasing awareness back home.

“It’s up to us, in conjunction with our member clubs, to maximise that and give every girl who wants to play football in Scotland the opportunity to do so.”

Asked if there was the potential for a full-time league, Maxwell replied: “Absolutely. A number of clubs are looking at pretty much full-time women’s teams. The more that develops, the more opportunities there will be for girls, and the more clubs will follow suit.

“Commercially, we’ve seen with the deals we’ve been able to do [for the national team] that there’s definitely more interest. I’m sure clubs will be finding that when they’re talking to their sponsors and partners. It’s about getting that investment to enable them to commit to full-time teams.”

Scotland’s World Cup send-off game against Jamaica attracted a record crowd of 18,555 at Hampden. It was only the second time the women’s side played at the national stadium – the other being a Euro 2013 play-off home leg against Spain – but Maxwell hinted at more.

The women’s side have used Tynecastle, pre-renovation, and Fir Park as home venues for qualifiers in the past, but all four home games for World Cup qualifying were staged at St Mirren Park, with a capacity of just over 8000.

“I’d like to see as many of those 18,000 [at the Jamaica game] back out as possible,” Maxwell said. “If the time is right and if we think it’s the right venue, then we’ll host it at Hampden. There’s a lot to be said for the games at St Mirren Park, where it has generated a great atmosphere and the playing surface is really good, but we’re more than willing to look at where we host future qualifiers.”