The club announced their decision on January 7 to become a professional team.
Celtic Football Club announced on 7 January 2020 that their women’s team will turn professional. The club have commented that “significant investment is being committed to this new professional model”, marking a progression out of the amateur game and into a model that is widely adopted across Scottish football.
In November of last year, Queens Park Football Club, the oldest football team in Scotland, made headlines by announcing their transition into a fully professional club, ending their 152 years of amateurism.
In contrast, Celtic Women were founded in 2007 and have taken just a fraction of that time to become a professional football club. Women’s football has been buoyed by a rise in coverage of their game across the world, not to mention Scotland’s qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. However the club is seemingly still retaining an amateur slant for some of their squad members: “a number of existing players have already been moved on to professional contracts and the Celtic squad for 2020 will be bolstered by some further signings, modern apprentices and continuing amateur players”. Perhaps not an emphatic transition into professionalism, but Celtic Women’s evolution into a professional outfit will take time, but marks a positive step forward for the women’s game in Scotland.
A sign of Celtic’s move into professionalism came two days prior to the club’s announcement, with manager Eddie Wolecki Black leaving his role as manager of the club after two years in charge; “Eddie leaves us with excellent foundations to build upon ahead of the exciting, next chapter for the women’s team in 2020”. Wolecki Black guided his team to two consecutive third-place finishes in the SWPL 1 during his tenure, but Celtic’s challenge now is to build a team capable of dislodging Glasgow City from their perch.
Glasgow City will resume their European campaign in the spring of this year. Having beaten Danish side Brøndby in the round of 16, City now face German side VfL Wolfsburg for a place in the semi-finals. Celtic Women meanwhile are yet to qualify for Europe, or win any silverware for that matter, despite a 2018 SWPL cup final appearance where they were beaten heavily by Hibernian 9-0. The gulf in quality may be apparent at first glance, but the following season Celtic ended their season level on points with second place Hibernian. Both sides were 11 points short of Glasgow City. With the level of devotion that the Celtic men’s team has, it may just become a matter of time before Celtic Women begin to challenge the independent Glasgow City for top spot and a chance to play European football. By independent, I mean that Glasgow City is not affiliated with any pre-existing men’s side. This marks a trend in women’s football in the United Kingdom of already existing men’s sides adding a women’s side to their organisations. Manchester United secured promotion to the FA Women’s Super League last season despite their formation coming in 2018. Money talks.
Celtic Women’s Football Club will mark their first season and game as a professional outfit on February 9 in a League Cup fixture. Before this the team are heading out to Spain for warm weather training in the build-up toward the new domestic campaign which runs from March to November.
In the meantime a new full time head coach, assistant coach and backroom staff are all set to be appointed, with a plethora of new sponsorships also entering the fray for the newly professionalised women’s team.