You are here
Home > 2017 > Is the Scottish Media Serious about Women’s Football? – Jimmy Dull

Is the Scottish Media Serious about Women’s Football? – Jimmy Dull

By Jimmy Dull

It has been wonderful to see Women’s Football being covered on mainstream television during the recent European Championships in The Netherlands. Kudos to Channel 4 for providing live coverage of the matches and providing a good selection of presenters and pundits to analyse the action. However, I can not but help feel very disappointed in the overall coverage and approach provided by our home media towards the journey of the Scotland Women’s National Team.

Take into consideration that this is the first major tournament a Scottish National Football Team has made since 1998 (scarily, for those of us longer in the teeth, this means for some young players it is the first successful qualification campaign in their living memory!). Couple this with the fact it is the first time ever the ladies team have qualified and then you realise this really should have been splashed all over the media as a major historic football event.

Was there an open top bus to wish our history makers well as they headed off to the tournament? Was there a crowd at the airport or a civic greeting to welcome them back? Perhaps there was and I, like most of the general public, are simply unaware due to the lack of major coverage provided – but I very much doubt it. Our history making footballers slipped, for the whole, under the radar, their achievements being noted around the country but never celebrated as widely as they should have been.

Let’s cast our mind back a year when the men’s Euros were in full flow. In addition to the full television coverage – which channels were competing against to show – we could find the tournament dominating the sports headlines on TV, radio and print. Newspapers produced wall charts, player profiles, sticker books and fantasy football challenges. And Scotland was not even there!

Scottish sports coverage is on the whole very poor. Too often “sports news” means “football news” and too often “football news” is just coverage of the Old Firm. Now as a football fan I love the coverage football gets but I can only imagine how depressing it must be for the cricket fan or the shinty fan to put on the Scottish news for the update on their chosen sport and to find just a token gesture at the end – if it is in there at all.

I feel their pain as a fan of women’s football. The lack of genuine coverage the game gets in our country is very disappointing. As mentioned above; the wall chart, fantasy football leagues and sticker books are produced every second year for World Cups and European Championships and, to a greater or lesser extent, throughout the football season yet despite twenty years eclipsing since our Men’s National Team last competed in one of these competitions the coverage of men’s major football tournaments remains incredibly high. (Editor: Panini did produce a Euro 2017 Sticker Album, but it has been harder than it should be to find)

Surely if our National Media had been serious about pushing the cause of the Women’s Game it would have been all over the back pages for a month regardless of Scotland’s presence in the tournament or not. After all, with the exception of Wimbledon, a few European ties and some big golf tournaments, the papers have had nothing but transfer speculation to cover over the past month.

I felt the post-match reporting also lacked any in-depth understanding of the game. I heard Scotland’s 6-0 loss to England described as a “humiliation” with the players and coaches coming in for huge criticism. While the scoreline was extremely disappointing and some defensive frailties were exposed the reality is that any positive scoreline would have been an incredible result for Scotland and, against one the strongest female teams in the world, it would also have been an incredible upset! In my opinion, a draw against England in that opening match would have been a far greater achievement than the 2-2 spectacle between the men’s teams at Hampden a month before.

I just felt a reality check was required. The reporters should have taken into consideration the number of absences from the Scotland squad and taken the time to compare the backgrounds of the players on the park. Instead, I think they took their knowledge of the male game and used that as a pre-conception for how the female game would unfold.

Over the past few years, Scottish Women’s Football has done a fantastic job of promoting the game and pushing forward their brand. They have particularly latched on well to the importance of social media, especially Twitter, and have tried different approaches including the anthem “Girl” released last year. I just can not help but wonder what might have been for the game had the media got fully behind this tournament, splashed it all over the papers and forced it down our throats on the TV and radio over the past month. The consumer was not all of a sudden going to lose interest in the Men’s game and we would still have all listened, read and watched on through the sports news to find out the summer transfer speculation. At least this way we would not have switched off before the token mention of our team was finally dropped in.

3 thoughts on “Is the Scottish Media Serious about Women’s Football? – Jimmy Dull

  1. Hello from the Netherlands. Yes, there are still Scottish supporters out here!
    I note that you have had a couple of guest writers on your site. Interested in another article? A reply to this article really, but hopefully something that will increase some interest in your website? We really need a good debate about Scottish Women’s Football. No need for any credit. It may be safer that way!!

    Kev

    Hi,

    Great to hear from a true supporter of Women’s football in Scotland??? Have you returned home to Scotland? I am still in the Netherlands watching the football, having booked my ticket for the whole of the tournament. Now that’s what I call a TRUE supporter!
    Let’s get some real facts out there. Why is the coverage of the women’s game so poor? Basically, it is the same as every other sport in Scotland apart from men’s football. Men’s football is regarded as the national game, hence the big participation and following. Any media outlet worth their salt will cover the national sport. For the rest, they have to be prepared to fight for the attention, and create an entertainment that the majority will want to watch too. Remember, SWNT qualified for the Euros from a fairly easy group, and the tournament this time had been expanded, hence the success in qualifying. Now we all have opinions on what is success. Scotland suffered, there is no doubt, from injuries to their top players. There lies part of the problem. The standard drops off very quickly in Scotland. The team that played England consisted of only one player who is actually playing the game in Scotland. That player, was until her club folded earlier this year, playing her football in England. So, what is so good about Scottish Women’s football? The players go elsewhere! No one can blame the players for searching out a better standard of game, or possibly some financial reward for their commitment. What do Scottish teams pay their players? Is there an incentive to stay in the SWPL1? I believe the answer is very close to zero pounds on the financial aspect. Although a rumour going about last season claims that the only team paying their players was Motherwell. A team in the SWPL2! Manchester United don’t have a women’s team playing football in England. However, I reckon that will change in the near future. So what are the incentives for Scottish clubs to promote and finance a women’s team? My understanding is that Celtic Ladies is the only club that actually has the full backing of a men’s club. Hibs Ladies is part of the Community Foundation, a charity, and not the men’s club. Hearts Ladies have no formal link at Tynecastle. Glasgow City have gone it alone, thanks to the commitment of 2 women, and somehow manage to do better without the name of a men’s team behind them. Could lessons be gained from that approach? So where does the funding come from to allow a women’s team to survive? I don’t know the answer to that, but I would have a guess at the girls pay a sub like participants of most sports. Local sponsors, probably parents who have a business who can claim the contribution back from the tax man? Obviously, Vaxhall contribute to the National via the SFA.
    I have looked at Men’s ‘Junior’ football in Scotland, my main entertainment on a Saturday. They somehow manage to attract bigger crowds, and also bigger sponsorship money. My neighbour plays his football in the Lowland league. His wage is a mere £2000 for the whole season! What then are we going to pay the women, when Lowland league and even Junior football attracts bigger crowds? Now who was that woman who always talked about market forces? No, on second thoughts, let’s not go there. Does Junior football get a greater coverage in the press, probably? Why?
    We can all be passionate about something we enjoy, but that does not mean that everyone else has the same views. What is so special about women’s football that it should be further up the coverage list for the media. If we take a look at what has been happening south of the border recently. Women’s football has failed to reach the top in the Euro 2017, but Cricket and Rugby have been successful. With that in mind lets all call for the media to drop women’s football, and replace it with cricket and rugby?
    Drop the TV coverage of the women’s super league because the national team have been unsuccessful (?). No, I don’t hear a big cry from the football supporters among us!
    I enjoy watching sport of all kinds, but don’t have the tribal mentality that is often referred too in relation to football supporters. No offence meant!
    Now, I must be careful here. I live in the east of the country, so I guess I should be complaining about the coverage given to the Old Firm.
    One side of the Old Firm has been in the lower divisions in recent times but still commanded large attendances at Ibrox. Therefore, they still get a great deal of media coverage. Why? There is a great deal of interest in that football team. Supporters buy papers! More sales mean more money for the newspapers, and more money for the owners, or shareholders. Simple really! Do you not agree?
    I have an interest in women’s football, although not as great an interest now, as my daughter ended her playing ‘career’ (time) some years ago. I saw the Euros as a relaxing holiday watching sport. Obviously, I supported Scotland for their 3 matches. Until now, I had not found the need to voice my opinion one way or the other, regarding the Scotland team, or Scottish women’s football. However, I thought that maybe an unbiased opinion may help to level the comments, and hopefully help all those concerned to think again about the future for the game. If, some good comes from this, then all the better!
    What did Microsoft’s former owner and founder, Bill Gates, say to his children regarding his great wealth? “It will become yours, but only if you earn it!” He has given away millions of his dollars to charities around the world. Does he dislike his children? I would guess not, but he is doing his best to help many others, who he regards as being more deserving/in need of his money. The media are like Gates. They are providing for the majority, without forgetting about the others. The others must create their media interest. Yes, it’s the chicken and egg situation, of what comes first? Women’s football will have to earn their right to media coverage! Join all the other sports that have just the same grievance. Please however, don’t play the female card. That is old style now! Just take your place along with everyone else and do your best to raise your profile. You have to earn the attention of the media, and the potential supporters! Let’s be honest. The very small crowds that turn up for matches, even in the SWPL1 are mainly made up of parents, family and friends of the players. FACT! Oh, and me and the dog. Apologies, for that statement, but you get the idea?
    I wish the sport all the best for the future, and, as I have stated earlier, I have no axe to grind. If I may however, give some advice, as someone who deals with multimillion pound deals on a regular basis. The first thing to do is to take a step back and look at the situation from an outsiders view. To me, there are obvious flaws in the running/setup of the game in Scotland. The SFA run the SWNT, and SWF run everything else. Where do the two bodies meet? Until the Euros, I never knew there was a man in charge of women’s football at the SFA! From social media, I also found out that there are a number of people at the SFA who are employed to do some sort of role in relation to women’s football. Yet the SWF Board, who have only recently appointed 2 people to work on a daily basis. (Are the Board really football people? Or is it the case of those who would like to say they are involved with women’s football? Jobs for the boys/girls? Just like the often claim regarding the make up of the SFA. I note that since 2013, there have been constant changes in personnel on the SWF Board. This, to me, tells another story). Just think back to some of the decisions made recently by the Board. They claim on their website that “all girls who want to play football can” or similar words? How then do the punish Aberdeen Ladies, who were unable to raise a team for a midweek match in Glasgow? Surely, there was enough knowledge in this group to realise that both University and SQA examinations were taking place at that time? Remember, university exams can start late in the day. My son had an exam last year starting at 5pm. A very poor decision from the Board!
    The English FA is no better. They have come under considerable criticism regarding the make up of their governing body.
    Well, I guess that there may be a few very unhappy people, if this is published. Remember, the truth hurts! Don’t shoot the messenger. This is an honest attempt to help the sport grow. Like most things in life, there are differing opinions, not rights or wrongs. I would like to hear the views of others, so why not give your unbiased thoughts on matters?
    Well, time to go and enjoy more of the Dutch hospitality, until the final match at the weekend, between Denmark and the hosts. My money is on the hosts to win the tournament!
    PS. Has the English manager resigned? All the news here in Rotterdam! Typical media response. Do we really need the media?

  2. Hello there,

    A great deal of truth is spoken in Kevin’s response. Good on you Kev!!

    It’s interesting to note that the Scotland V England match could not even get into the top 10 attendances for a match at Euro 2017. A short hop across the channel was even too much for the English. According to the publicity by their coach, they were going to defeat Europe! Did he steal that phrase from the German coach, or was it another German who had that idea? Somehow neither materialised, to every Scots relief!! Basil Faulty commented “Don’t mention the war!” Just think how bad it was losing to England, but if they had won the tournament, we would have had to suffer 2017 along with 1966. Thankfully, I missed the world cup final in ’66, but can somehow clearly remember slim Jim Baxter taking the p… out of England in ’67!!!!!!!!! Would I be far wrong if I claimed that History was never likely to be repeated? Sometimes History has its value?
    Maggie

  3. Dear Editor,
    May I join your debate?

    First I must express my disappointment that only 2 people have taken the opportunity to respond to Mr Dull. I would suspect that their are possibly 2 reasons for the lack of responses.
    1} The clubs don’t really care too much about the media? They spend too much time blowing their own trumpet to their own followers on social media. I read that someone at the SFA who had a media role had suggested that it was up to the clubs to promote themselves on social media. Has this person resigned from their post? If it is up to the clubs, what does this person do all day!?
    2) Very few people visit you site? Please give us some figures to prove the interest?

    I can understand the cry for media attention but what do they expect the media to do?

    The editor of Tartan Kicks covering one match a week is pretty pointless. Editor, do you have any available data that shows visits to your site? Is it really worth the effort? I saw that you efforts had had a detrimental effect on your health! Surely you could not expect to make a living from so little content? I have to be frankly honest and say that I only check your site occasionally since there is very little I find worthwhile to read. No disrespect, at least you have tried! Credit where credit is due! However, you are obviously not a trained journalist? You give facts in plain terms, sometimes not a bad thing, but there is no excitement or great expressions? A good journalist will have qualities that include, a hunger for news, critical thinking, curiosity, sceptical and fearless. You never write article of any contention. I believe your commitment is not to your readers but to the clubs and the governing body, who of course you write for! Readers want you to be searching out the real stories of interest! Not simple match previews that simple give a the likely winner or league position.
    Match reports are dull! Try using more adjectives in your sentences, and less cliches. Sorry, for being so blunt, but just trying to help you raise interest.
    Was there an increase in interest at the Hearts V Motherwell match at the weekend? Has the coverage of the Euro 2017 raised interest or was it a status quo? I know I don’t visit your site very often but what has happened to the photographs? I have even checked the photosportsman flickr site but I can’t find anything recent? Have you paid him off?? Was he in Holland for the Scotland matches?

    Come on readers, take your chance to express your views! At least give the man some suggestions. Don’t moan later at the lack of coverage. Apathy!???

    B. Semple

Leave a Reply

Top