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Rachel Corsie: Club must continue to back Aberdeen Women and help them challenge Scotland’s top sides

Aberdeen Women midfielder Eilidh Shore battles with Celtic's Clarissa Larisey - Shore is one of five Dons Women players who has signed a semi-professional deal.
Aberdeen Women midfielder Eilidh Shore battles with Celtic's Clarissa Larisey - Shore is one of five Dons Women players who has signed a semi-professional deal.

It is good to see Aberdeen Women taking a step towards becoming a semi-professional outfit by putting five players on contracts until 2024.

And I hope the club continue to invest and show ambition in the seasons ahead, so that the Dons’ women’s side and players can fulfil their potential on the pitch – and grow the game in the area.

In this column back in March, following a tough 10-1 SWPL 1 defeat to professional Glasgow City, I praised co-bosses Emma Hunter and, latterly, Gavin Beith for the progress the young, amateur Reds had made since moving fully under the Pittodrie club’s umbrella.

They won back-to-back league titles to get Aberdeen back up and look good for a top-half finish in their first season back in the top-flight, having beaten Hibs – a team who have long had players on paid contracts – along the way.

However, the heavy defeat to City and similar uphill struggles against the other professional sides, Celtic and Rangers, have been a reminder of the gulf clubs, including the Dons, must bridge in SWPL 1 in the years to come.

Aberdeen Women’s Francesca Ogilvie in action against Glasgow City.

This summer’s shift from SFA to SPFL control, and expected increased exposure and commercial opportunities for the domestic women’s game, always looked like the to start transitioning their talent to semi-professional or professional status.

I’m glad to see Aberdeen take the opportunity to tie down Jess Broadrick, Bayley Hutchison, Francesca Ogilvie, Eilidh Shore and Eva Thomson as they are top, young talents who they might have struggled to keep in the north-east and lost for nothing to the central belt sides or to England.

The paid deals until 2024, historic for Aberdeen, ensure these promising players will continue their development at Aberdeen, for now at least, and the team will get the benefit of this on the pitch.

Holding on to talent is crucial if the Reds are going to grow to compete with well-backed, international-filled sides Rangers, Celtic and Glasgow City in the years ahead.

It also means any club who wants to take any of the five players off the Dons’ hands will need to pay a fee which can then be reinvested.

In addition to the news of the deals, I was pleased to read Aberdeen’s academy director Gavin Levey saying the challenge is now there for other players at the club to develop to the point where they, too, earn paid contracts.

The promise of improved “operations off the field, improve standards and infrastructure, whilst ensuring there is a clear pathway to professional football for female footballers across the north-east” also stood out to me as something which can help every player at the club perform better and bring through fresh talent into the Reds ranks.

With regards to the league’s already-professional sides, Rangers could clinch the title this weekend when they take on Glasgow City at home.

City are the reigning champions and have won for 14 consecutive seasons, but Malky Thomson’s Gers side – who have an eight-point cushion, having played one game more than their rivals – need just one point to make history.

I don’t expect Rangers to come out only looking for a draw, but – if City can get a first win over their hosts this season – they will at least be able to extend the title race.

Many neutrals will be hoping for a photo-finish, as Rangers are set to travel to Celtic for their final league game, and the Hoops have become a stumbling block for them on more occasions than not recently.

Whatever happens, Rangers look likely to be champions.

They finished third last season, which would have been very disappointing for them after quickly ramping up the investment in their women’s programme.

Rangers look to have got the better of Glasgow City this season.

They were not only left without a trophy, but also missed out on a Champions League place to Celtic.

However, success in sport can take a little bit of time – and their impending silverware success shows what can be achieved with the right investment.

  •  The Women’s Scottish Cup will see a League Cup Final rematch, as Glasgow City will take on Celtic at Tynecastle Stadium on May 29.

Ukraine clash goes ahead

It has been confirmed Scotland’s delayed World Cup qualification match against Ukraine will now go ahead on June 24 in Poland.

It will be the penultimate group match before the final game takes place versus Faroe Islands in September, which will hopefully confirm Scotland’s place in the World Cup play-offs.

Scotland Women’s World Cup qualifier against Ukraine was postponed until June.

A second-place group finish is required to progress, and will give us the chance to fight it out with remaining European sides for the final places on the game’s biggest stage.

Thrilling conclusion to FAWSL in store – but my old side Birmingham are already doomed

This weekend will see the climax of the Barclays FAWSL and, with the bottom half of the table all but decided, it’s still all to play for at the top.

Arsenal’s 3-0 win over Spurs in midweek ensured we would have to wait until the final day of action before the champions could be crowned.

While the Gunners set this season alight with a rampant run of form early on, they now face the possibility of a trophyless campaign. Manchester City have already claimed the League Cup, Chelsea knocked them out of the FA Cup in the semi-finals and Wolfsburg sent them out in the Champions League quarters.

The league is their final hope and, although their season has been almost flawless, four draws and a single defeat has them trailing reigning champions Chelsea by a point.

Incredibly, Arsenal’s sole defeat came to this year’s relegation side, Birmingham, which I am sure now feels like a huge slip-up.

It is Jonas Eidevall’s first year in charge at Arsenal and, while he is still in a grace period given over how this season could ultimately play out, there will definitely be greater scrutiny next season if the club – with one of the biggest budgets in the women’s game and certainly in the FAWSL – find themselves left empty handed following Sunday’s closer at West Ham.

All of the games kick-off at noon and leaders Chelsea welcome Manchester United to Kingsmeadow.

United know they, too, must win to have any hope of regaining the third spot they once looked favourites for.

On Wednesday night, Manchester City beat Birmingham 6-0 to ensure they took a foothold over their cross-town rivals in the race for the third Champions League spot.

The defeat put an end to Birmingham’s time in the WSL, and their demise has been coming.

Plenty has been written about my former club in recent years, and they have allowed themselves to be overtaken by the game’s growing demands.

Despite being one of the teams who have played a huge part in the history of the FAWSL, they are now faced with the tough prospect of rebuilding in order to try to reestablish themselves.

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