Women's football in Scotland

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Women's football in Scotland
Governing bodyScottish Women's Football
National team(s)Women's national team
National competitions
International competitions

Women's association football is a largely amateur sport in Scotland, given the greater emphasis of the male competitions.[1][2][3][4] As in the men's game, the women's league structure consists of a Premier League and a Football League with Divisions One and Two, but the second division is split into North, West, East, and South East regions. In the women's SFL, reserve and youth squads may compete as long as they do not compete in the same division as the titular club. The team that wins the Premier League title qualifies for the following season's UEFA Champions League. There are also four cup competitions, the Scottish Cup, Scottish Premier League Cup, Scottish First Division Cup and the Scottish Second Division Cup.

Scottish Women's Football are in sole charge of women's football in Scotland.[5]


Scotland first played a women's international match in May 1881.[6] Women's football struggled for recognition during this early period and was banned by the football authorities in 1921.[6] Club sides who were interested in using their grounds for women's football were subsequently denied permission by the Scottish Football Association (SFA).[6] The sport continued on an unofficial basis until the 1970s, when the ban was lifted.[7][6] In 1971 UEFA instructed its members to take control of women's football within their territories. The motion was passed 31–1, but Scotland was the only member to vote against it.[8] Football in Scotland has traditionally been seen as a working class and male preserve.[2]

In 1971 the Scottish Women's Football Association (SFWA) was founded and six teams registered for competition: Aberdeen, Edinburgh Dynamos, Westthorn United, Motherwell AEI, Dundee Strikers and Stewarton and Thistle. In 1972–73 Westthorn Utd won the first league title. Having played their first official internationaöl match and two teams reaching the final of the English FA Women's Cup in 1972 and 1973 the SFA lifted the ban and recognised the SWFA in August 1974. Since then the SWFA has been renamed Scottish Women's Football Ldt (SWF). The Scottish Women's Football League (SWFL) formed in November 1999 and in 2002–03 the Premier Division broke away to form the Premier League (SWPL).[9]

Scottish League winners were:

  • 1972–73 Westthorn Utd[10]
  • 1973–1995 ? (Edinburgh Dynamos won at least one title)[11]
  • 1995–96 Cumbernauld United[12]
  • 1996–97 Cumbernauld United[12]
  • 1997–98 Cumbernauld United[13]
  • 1998–99 ?
  • 1999–00 Cumbernauld United
  • 2000–01 Ayr United[14]
  • 2001–02 FC Kilmarnock Ladies

League system[edit]

In 2016, the Premier League was reduced from 12 to 8 eight teams but expanded to a second level. In 2017, the SWFL 2 changed from 4 to 3 regions.

The pyramid is over 4 tiers:




Scottish Women's Premier League
(Scottish Building Society)
8 clubs playing 21 games - 1 relegation


Scottish Women's Premier League 2
(Scottish Building Society)
8 clubs playing 21 games - 1 promotion


SWFL Division 1 – North
12 clubs playing 22 games - 1 promotion

SWFL Division 1 – South
12 clubs playing 22 games - 1 promotion


SWFL Division 2 – West
12 clubs playing 22 games

SWFL Division 2 – Central
12 clubs playing 22 games

SWFL Division 2 – East
12 clubs playing 22 games

Highlands and Islands League
(Outside the current pyramid)[15]
8 clubs playing 14 games

Senior team[edit]

Scotland's first official match, a 3–2 defeat to England, took place in November 1972. The team was managed by Rab Stewart. The 1921 ban on women's football was lifted in 1974. The SFA assumed direct responsibility for Scottish women's football in 1998.[2]

The Scottish government in 2013 promised to increase funding for the Women's national team.[16] Scotland women's national football team qualified for their first major tournament Euro 2017. [17] 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup will the first time the Womens team have qualified for a world cup.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Scotland women's football team on brink of big time". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2014-07-12.
  2. ^ a b c MacBeth, Jessica (Spring 2008). "Attitudes towards women's football in Scottish society" (PDF) (63). Scottish Affairs. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  3. ^ Macbeth, Jessica Louise. "STORRE: Women's football in Scotland : an interpretive analysis". Dspace.stir.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  4. ^ "The mark women have left on Scottish football is hard to argue with". Herald. Retrieved 2012-07-29.
  5. ^ "How women's football battled for survival". BBC News. 2005-06-03. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Honeyballers: Women who fought to play football". BBC News. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Edna Neillis: The forgotten pioneer of women's football - The Scotsman". Scotsman.com. 17 March 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  8. ^ Gregory, Patricia (3 June 2005). "How women's football battled for survival". BBC Sport. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  9. ^ Jonathan Magee, Sheila Scraton, Jayne Caudwell, Katie Liston (30 January 2008). Women, Football and Europe: Histories, Equity and Experience. Meyer & Meyer Verlag. pp. 3–27.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ "How The Original Gregory's Girl Lived Her Dream of Dreams". The Independent. London. 2007-03-25. Retrieved 2007-03-25.
  11. ^ Forsyth, Roddy (2000-12-29). "Midwinter shutdown sweeps in from Arctic". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  12. ^ a b "Come on you reds; Playing the field... the real-life drama behind TV's new female football series". Scotland: Sunday Mail. 15 March 1998. Retrieved 31 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Fleet streets ahead of 'em. - Free Online Library". Thefreelibrary.com. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  14. ^ "Women's cup final preview". BBC News. 2001-05-11. Retrieved 2017-04-09.
  15. ^ "New Highlands and Islands League set to launch". Scottish Women's Football. 25 February 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  16. ^ "Funding boost for Scotland women". BBC. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  17. ^ "Euro 2017: Scotland's women qualify for first major tournament". BBC. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  18. ^ "Scotland Women qualify for World Cup with 2-1 win against Albania". Bbc.co.uk. 4 September 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.