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Rachel Corsie: Sky deal looks game-changing for Scottish women’s football – just look what happened in England

Sky Sports cameras before a cinch Premiership match between Motherwell and Rangers. The broadcaster has struck a deal to screen Scottish Women's Premier League (SWPL) games for the first time.
Sky Sports cameras before a cinch Premiership match between Motherwell and Rangers. The broadcaster has struck a deal to screen Scottish Women's Premier League (SWPL) games for the first time.

It was a very welcome surprise to learn the details of the new Sky Sports deal which will showcase the SPFL  – including the Scottish Women’s Premier League (SWPL) – in the years to come.

I was making my way from the pitch at Villa’s training ground during the week when I caught the headline flash across the TV breaking the story. The inclusion of the SWPL stood out immediately and is a landmark moment in the Scottish domestic game’s history.

While there has been some debate around the pound signs attached to the overall £150 million SPFL package, there is absolutely no question the specific investment in the women’s game – reportedly £4m over seven years – is groundbreaking, as well as a massive opportunity for Scottish women’s football to capitalise much further.

Scottish domestic women’s games to be shown UK-wide

The visibility of our elite women’s game has been a focus over recent seasons and currently BBC Scotland hold most of the rights to broadcast live coverage, as well as produce highlights packages of the season’s drama.

This deal has brought significant growth for the game and, while it will continue to bring important publicity in the months and years to come, the latest move from  broadcast competitor Sky means a new avenue through which the game can be viewed and will alter the landscape of how it is promoted – with chosen fixtures shown UK-wide.

Up to now, much of the narrative around the showcasing of domestic women’s football in Scotland on TV has felt gentle and perhaps even charitable – promotion of the game which at times still feels tokenish, rather than “come and see how impressive these teams and players be”.

If the Scottish women’s game wants to achieve its potential, everything which surrounds it, including broadcast coverage, must develop alongside it.

Sky deal in England and quality of coverage has lifted standing of their domestic game

Look at England’s Women’s Super League, where the advancements in production of their own broadcast coverage has significantly contributed to the increased stature and commercial value of the game.

While the SWPL still has some way to go to match the standards of English top-flight, both on the park and in the coverage of the matches, it certainly should act as encouragement of what is achievable in a short amount of time.

While quality on the pitch has to be driven by the clubs’ internal frameworks, revolutionising where the game sits in society’s sporting landscape is far more heavily influenced by external media coverage.

The income from the Sky deal alone should make a significant contribution to all clubs in the SWPL, but will hopefully also open more doors in terms of monetising the women’s game and making it something worth investing in.

News will bring more money into Scottish clubs from sponsorship

Local companies looking at supporting clubs now know their sponsorship or otherwise could see their organisation get exposure on Sky Sports.

Although there are many businesses who have already made critical contributions to the Scottish domestic women’s game to get it this far, several more will hopefully be forthcoming now there is a little more in it for everyone.

For a footballing nation, the Sky TV deal news is fantastic and for me it is remarkable to see how far women’s football in this country has come since I first signed for Aberdeen back in 2007.

I wouldn’t have ever believed this was possible back then, but, with what I know now and have seen elsewhere in the world, there is so much still ahead.

Rangers come out on wrong side of enthralling European clash

The Uefa Women’s Champions League 2022/23 campaign has come to an end for Rangers, after a valiant effort in their second-leg tie through the week against Benfica.

In the end, they were defeated 5-3 on aggregate in another enthralling encounter in the competition.

They gave themselves a glimmer of hope when substitute Emma Watson fired home from a corner with just three minutes left of normal time to level the scores and send the game into extra-time.

Emma Watson of Rangers celebrates her goal during the Women’s Champions League qualifying match in Lisbon, Portugal, against Benfica.

However, when Cloé Lacasse finally found a way past Esson in the Rangers goal in the 93rd minute, it sank the hopes of the Malky Thomson’s side.

Although a resilient and spirited performance, they couldn’t quite muster another clear-cut opportunity and Jessica Silva ensured the Portuguese Champions would progress to the group stages as she scored with just a few minutes in the additional half-hour remaining.

Fortunes were different for the other British team in action, as Arsenal earned a 1-0 win against Ajax that put them through 3-2 on aggregate.

The tie ended up being a little trickier than most expected for Arsenal, who many assumed would sail through to the group stages, however, they had to travel to Netherlands needing a win.

Away ties might normally be daunting, however, Viv Miedema cherished the opportunity to return to her homeland.

Her low drilled shot found the bottom corner to give Arsenal a second-half lead which turned out to be the only goal they needed.

They will now join Chelsea in Monday’s draw for the group stages in Nyon.

Scotland camp begins… after some League Cup business

Before the Scotland Women’s National Team players meet for camp on Sunday evening in Edinburgh, most will be in League Cup action this weekend.

England’s League Cup begins with a group stage which is split geographically across the country.

Arsenal and Chelsea are both exempt from this round as they automatically qualify to the knock-out stages as a result of their inclusion in the Champions League group rounds.

North of the border, Aberdeen face a difficult round-two tie away to Glasgow City.

Meanwhile, holders Celtic are at Partick Thistle.

Christy Grimshaw and Kirsty Hanson return for Scotland, as the 25-player squad was announced this week.

Emma Mukandi and Fiona Brown also keep their places.