Hibs boss urges SFA to step in and help women's game restart amid cash shortfall

The resumption of Scottish Women's Premier League 1 has been left hanging in the balance over a cash shortfall of £67,000 needed to comply with PCR testing for Covid-19.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 1:37 pm
Hibernian Women coach Dean Gibson
Hibernian Women coach Dean Gibson

The women's top-flight game was given the thumbs up earlier this week by the Scottish Government to resume training and fixtures on the understanding clubs test players and staff for the virus once a week.

However, despite the SFA receiving a $500,000 Covid relief grant from Fifa (approximately £361,000) specifically for women's football in December, the game’s governing body in Scotland is only willing to stump up £50,000 of the £117,000 all eight clubs require to adhere to testing protocols.

As a result, SWPL 1 teams have now been tasked with sourcing the remaining £67,000 needed to fill the void - at the expense of each club.

Sign up to our Hibs football newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Scottish Women's Football (SWF) has confirmed they are in discussions with their SFA counterparts in the hope of finding a resolution.

Furthermore, if the season is to resume, it is understood the preferred approach is for each club to play a further seven fixtures.

Hibernian Women boss Dean Gibson has called on the SFA to do more to get the women's game up and running again – and admitted he doesn’t know if Hibs have the space in their yearly budget to cover testing.

He told the Evening News: "It's been really frustrating because I was excited like everyone else when the news came out that we could return and then we are told it's not as simple as it sounds.

"The SFA needs to start giving us answers. We want to be playing football as much as anyone but can we really afford it?

"I don't know if we've got much of the budget left we had for this season. We've already lost income this year [due to the sport being suspended as a result of Covid-19].

"All the work the SFA has already done is about to come tumbling down if they don't step in. Where has the rest of the money gone that Fifa provided? I'd love to know.

"I've had the players texting me asking what's going on and I can't give them a straight answer. We need to know what's happening as soon as possible."

Spartans head coach Debbi McCulloch is of a similar mindset and said: "It's a really challenging and delicate situation we're in. We're stuck between a rock and a hard place as everyone is desperate to get back on the pitch but, the reality is £8,500 is a lot of money for a club like Spartans.

"It might not have an impact immediately but it will further down the road. Ideally, the SFA comes back with all the funding so the impact for the clubs isn't so severe. We're very much in limbo at the moment."

A SWF spokesman said: "We requested what was needed to be used for the entirety of testing for SWPL 1, but we weren't granted the full amount by the SFA.

"We have since been in discussion with the clubs and the SFA and there has been some positive discussions. We remain hopeful there will be a resumption of women's football in the near future."

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.