History will be made in SWPL 1, but what awaits the winners?
Why it matters so much who finishes in the top two with a new Champions League beginning next season
On Sunday, history will be made.
Glasgow City could equal the achievements of the men’s teams of Skonto Riga and Lincolm Red Imps and win a 14th consecutive league title. A draw at home to Rangers is all they need.
However, any Rangers goal at Broadwood will be cheered by Celtic. Should their Old Firm rivals claim the three points, Fran Alonso’s side could be crowned champions for the first time. But they could also have a nightmare Sunday and finish outwith the top two and miss out on the Champions League riches.
Anyone’s Game takes a look at a huge Sunday in SWPL 1, and what the victors are playing for in addition to the trophy.
Who is taking the silverware home?
Glasgow City are the clear frontrunners. They lead Celtic by three points and also are three goals better off. Due to having scored more goals too, essentially it’s a four-goal swing Celtic need.
A single goal loss for City and a three-goal win for Celtic over Motherwell would put Fran Alonso’s side top of the table on goal difference.
But should Celtic lose, and Rangers beat City, then not only will it be 14-in-a-row but Rangers will leapfrog Celtic into second place. And second place matters a lot this season, something Alonso is well aware of.
"We can control our outcome with the Champions League and that's a massive, amazing outcome, that's why I our focus is on that,” said the Spaniard.
"It's important to focus only on our game, try to get the three points and not make a mistake in the last game of the season.
"That would be devastating, although I would still feel very proud of the team."
Revamped Champions League
Glasgow City can finish no lower than second, so whatever happens they will be in the new Champions League qualifiers. One of Celtic or Rangers will join them. It will be a sore one to take for the one that misses out.
Uefa are promising the competition will "revolutionise the game". More teams, more matches, enhanced revenue from TV and commercial partners, increased Uefa investment and prize money, and a first ever cross-subsidy with the men's competition.
Until now, the Champions League has consisted of a qualifying group stage, which the top 22 teams were allowed to skip in favour of a place directly into the knockout stage. In previous years Glasgow City and Hibernian often had to travel abroad and navigate five-team groups to land a glamour tie.
Now, there will be qualifying grounds, preceding a group stage more along the lines of the men's Champions League which will include all the big names. Uefa want Europe's larger sides facing each other more often.
And due to more teams entering this year, Scotland's rank of 14th in the coefficients has earned them two spots.
Some big cheques are going to be written
Uefa projects that a total €24 million will be distributed - more than four times greater than the current figure - either as rewards to competing clubs or as ‘solidarity payments’ to non-competing clubs.
Every club that reaches the group stage will receive a minimum of €400,000. The winner stands to earn €1.4m.
Not only that, but ‘solidarity payments’ mean other Scottish clubs could benefit too. €5.6m will be redistributed. How much of that Scotland gets is all down to how well our two entrants perform.
How it will work for Scottish clubs
As great as it sounds, there is still a treacherous path for Scottish clubs to navigate before they reach the lucrative group stage.
Both the Scottish champions and runners-up will be split into different sections; the champions path and the league path. They would need to play two rounds and a total of four games to make it.
Round one: One venue will host four teams in each knockout mini-tournament; comprising of semi-finals, a third-place match and a final. The winners of the final progress to round two.
Round two: This will be a home-and-away tie with the victor reaching the group stage.
Who will they face?
Unsurprisingly, the champions path is easier, but there are still some sharks in the water.
It may surprise some that Italy are ranked below Scotland in the Uefa rankings, but they’ve fallen from eighth to 15th. Chillingly, that poses a real threat to Scotland.
It means the Italian champions Juventus could be a possible opponent in the qualifiers, and their seeding isn’t great which means even if Glasgow City are in there, their healthy coefficient ranking may not help them avoid the Le Bianconere. And Juventus have extra motivation to make the final - the final is in Turin.
But avoid them, and other tough names like Benfica and Anderlecht, and there is some very winnable ties.
The league path is a lot tougher. With the top leagues now having three teams enter, the likes of Arsenal and Bordeaux are in round one. Real Madrid or Levante will be there from Spain, and 1899 Hoffenheim are favourites to take that position from the German league.
Add in the runners up from Denmark, Netherlands and of course Italy - with Christy Grimshaw’s AC Milan a notable name.
In round two, Caroline Weir’s Manchester City go into the mix in the league path, as will the runners-up from France (PSG or Lyon), Germany (Bayern Munich or Wolfsburg), Spain (Real Madrid or Levante) and Czech Republic (Sparta Prague or Slavia Prague).
It will likely take a herculean effort to progress.
But make it, and the group stage becomes six matches home and away, with European giants coming to our shore and a chance to witness the best players in the women’s game up close.
That’s the prize awaiting our top two, with the champions giving themselves a much better chance of being part of the groups. On Sunday evening, we’ll know who has prevailed in the title race and the dreaming can begin.
Our greatest advertising tool is the word of mouth from our readers. So if you’re enjoying these emails then feel free to forward them on to your friends and loved ones and encourage them to subscribe.