SWF Statement | League Start Date Announced with Enhanced Broadcast Deal

Performance Arm Start Date & Enhanced Broadcast Agreement

Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) is delighted to announce that the Scottish Building Society Scottish Women’s Premier Leagues 1 & 2 (SWPL 1 & 2) and Championship Leagues will kick off on Sunday 18th October. This is pending the government guidance enabling this and the Scottish FA’s current suspension on competitions being lifted. We are also delighted to announce an enhanced broadcast agreement with our long-term partners at BBC ALBA which will see us double the number of matches being broadcast live in the 2020/2021 season.

The Scottish Women’s Football season had only just begun when the COVID-19 pandemic put a hold on all fixtures from 15th March.   Since the postponement of all football, Scottish Women’s Football (SWF) and the relevant committees have been in regular dialogue with clubs/leagues across the whole of the game to consult and identify a positive way forward.  Following this consultation programme, SWF is pleased to advise that a revised performance calendar has been agreed by clubs and ratified accordingly, moving to a 2020/2021 playing schedule.  As such, the 2020 season has been declared null and void and a new 2020/21 format has been confirmed.  The member clubs accepted to the performance arm in the 2020 affiliation window will continue their involvement in their respective leagues in the new 20/21 schedule. Engagement is ongoing with clubs to determine the longer-term calendar for the performance arm of the game following the move to a more traditional calendar for 2020/2021, enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Scottish Building Society SWPL and Championship clubs will begin their league campaigns on Sunday 18th October, with all leagues concluding by 2nd May 2021. This ensures we are able to nominate Scotland’s representatives to UEFA for the Champions League season 2021/22.  A condensed League Cup competition will take place in May/June. We appreciate the unprecedented circumstances we are currently operating in and note the possibility of further disruption to the calendar, regionally and nationally, should restrictions be re-imposed as a result of COVID-19.   The dates reserved for the League Cup competition will therefore be utilised to conclude the league competitions should this be necessary.  Restrictions within the calendar, and the desire to build in contingencies, mean that there will not be a Scottish Cup competition in the 2020/2021 season. Our club survey concluded, by significant majority, that the preference in the circumstances was to deliver the league cup competition for the 2020/2021 season, where the format guaranteed more games against opposition of a similar calibre.   Full fixture calendars will be released on Friday 21st August.

FIFA transfer windows have been confirmed as 15th July – 6th October and a mid-season window provisionally scheduled for the month of January.

Scottish Women’s Football Chair, Vivienne MacLaren said: “It was imperative that we continued to maintain the momentum generated prior to lockdown and we believe the new 20/21 schedule will allow us to do that. We’d like to thank all our key stakeholders for their commitment and involvement in our consultation discussions over the past 4 months which has led us to a positive outcome for the girls’ and women’s game”.

Scottish Building Society confirmed their commitment to the SWPL in May by continuing their sponsorship of the league, irrespective of the impact of Covid-19.   Kerra McKinnie, Marketing Director at Scottish Building Society said: “We have supported girls’ and women’s football in Scotland for three years and we are determined to maintain that relationship to ensure the SWPL are ready to go when the season resumes”.

In addition to continued sponsorship, SWF’s official broadcast partners, BBC ALBA, have also confirmed their commitment to women’s football by providing an enhanced broadcast schedule to showcase the very best of the league.   Iseabail Mactaggart, Director of Multiplatform Content at MG ALBA confirmed “We will broadcast a further 6 games in addition to the outstanding matches we previously committed to. This takes us to 12 broadcast matches throughout the season. This reaffirms our commitment to growing an audience and providing a platform to showcase the very best of women’s football in Scotland”.

SWF would like to thank all clubs, league representatives, relevant committee members and key stakeholders for their support and input during this challenging time.  We look forward to further discussions with the youth and senior regional leagues in the coming weeks to identify the preferred competition calendars in youth and regional football.

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