THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Continues growth in Scotland and England

icon glasgcity17 October ~ If they eliminate Standard Liege in Glasgow tonight, Scotland's serial title-winners will meet Arsenal in the Champions League. There's a reason this sounds familiar. Glasgow City's potential glamour tie in the last-16 of UEFA competition is another example of UK women's clubs imitating the history of our men's. Arsenal, English champions for nine seasons prior to 2013, won what was then known as the UEFA Women's Cup in 2007. But they finished outside the top two domestic places this season so must become European champions again to qualify for an 11th straight year.

Arsène Wenger always reaches the Champions League. New coach Shelley Kerr will feel her Arsenal can improve on last season's semi-final loss to Wolfsburg.

Scottish performances in Europe are as generally modest as those of their male counterparts but Glasgow are always improving; they eliminated Holland's FC Twente this season. City's record defeat came at the hands of heavyweights Turbine Potsdam last year but this was in the last-16, a tie worthy of a screening by BBC Alba.

The women's club game is getting harder to ignore. BT Sport adopted ESPN's extensive coverage of the FA Women's Super League (WSL), which next year includes a second division. This month's European fixtures were publicised
widely across the BBC.

Last week's round of 32 first legs saw Arsenal thrash CSHVSM-Kairat 7-1 in Kazakhstan while Glasgow City drew 2-2 in Liege. Birmingham City Ladies yesterday completed the job against PK-35 Vantaa of Helsinki. They'll meet Russian side Zorkiy in a last-16 which could yet guarantee one British club the €25,000 (£21,200) due to losing quarter-finalists.

As sponsorship increases it's noticeable that Liverpool Ladies are suddenly signing Scandinavian and US internationals. Their title-winning season included a symbolic crushing of Arsenal at the Emirates. Alongside Bristol Academy they're taking the power away from London and into the "regions". It's not quite Blackburn's uncouth professional sides ending the southern amateurs' upper-class dominance of the 19th century FA Cup, but Arsenal Ladies formed in 1987 and went semi-pro in 2002.

Again mimicking the growth of the men's professional game, the best players often come from north of the border. Scotland and Great Britain Olympic international Kim Little is the inaugural Professional Footballers' Association Women's Player of the Year. She joined Arsenal from Hibs in 2008. Scotland legend Julie Fleeting MBE starred in televised FA Cup finals, once making Arsenal the best-known ladies team in Scotland.

That's no longer the case but not because Fleeting now plays for Celtic. Glasgow City, formed in 1998, are imitating Victorian-era Queen's Park by dominating Scotland without politico-religious baggage. Hibs have three Scottish Women's Premier League (SWPL) titles but City lifted eight of the other nine played since 2002.

As per the 19th century men, Rangers and Celtic women's teams emerged a decade or so after the first Glasgow giant. Celtic took over Arsenal North Ladies FC in 2007, just as the original Celtic FC poached Hibernian's players when forming in 1888. Queen's Park reached two FA Cup finals and the FA rejected Glasgow City's proposed membership of the WSL this year.

With fixtures remaining, City are already 2013 champions of the SWPL, which switched to a summer season two years before the WSL started in the same fashion. Liverpool clinched this season's title live on the telly at Widnes Vikings' stadium. Rugby league won't be supplanted as Sky's favourite summer filler, but a clash of Scotland and England's two powerhouses of elite women's football should have those big blokes just a bit worried. Alex Anderson

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