Fran Alonso has never got round to calling Malky Thomson ‘a lucky man’ because theRangers Women manager operates with a budget of around three times higher than his Celtic rival who operates with just the third biggest budget in the SWPL1 yet has his side in contention for the title this weekend and will follow that up next Sunday at Hampden when he leads out the Hoops against ‘Lucky Man’ Malky looking to defend the Scottish Cup his Celtic FC Women side won so spectacularly last May in a final against Glasgow City that will live long in the memory.
Alonso though has had a bit of luck of his own, in the family heritage that Scotland’s Women’s Player of the Year Caitlin Hayes has. Caitlin is English born from Warrington but that doesn’t mean she’s not from a good Celtic family. Her dad is Celtic through and through and Caitlin has been brought up supporting the Hoops and indeed sporting the shirt while playing football as a youngster.
A week or so ago The Celtic Star asked Fran Alonso a question about Caitlin and his answer was very curious indeed, implying strongly that Caitlin’s long term future at the club was uncertain. That in itself is not a surprise because in women’s football plenty of players move around at the end of their year-to-year contracts and that will undoubtedly happen at Celtic once again this summer.
A win against Hearts on Sunday guarantees Champions League football for Celtic next season and may also deliver the SWPL1 title for the first time. Celtic’s are two points behind Glasgow City and level on points with theRangers but trail them by a goal difference of just one. But crucially Celtic have fulfilled all their fixtures against their title rivals with Glasgow City have a difficult away trip to play theRangers on Sunday at Ibrox. Points will be dropped by one or both and two of the three possible outcomes are likely to land Celtic the title, provided Hearts are taken care of inside a packed Paradise.
Assuming Celtic win, If it’s a draw at Ibrox Celtic are the Champions on goal difference from Glasgow City who get the second Champions League spot. If theRangers win then it comes down to goal difference and Celtic have the easier task, on paper at least, of hitting the back of the net more frequently that Malky Thomson’s expensively assembled side. Only an away win for Glasgow City guarantees them the title and also will mean that theRangers are not going to play in Europe next season, despite spending all that money on their squad.
Yesterday Caitlin Hayes signed a three year contract extension at Celtic, amid intense speculation that many of the top sides in England were interested in her. What was less known was the interests to the bold Malky had in signing Scotland’s Player of Year from Celtic.
Of course there’s no chance that Caitlin’s dad would have been happy with his daughter doing a Judas and signing for theRangers and fair play to Michael Nicholson from acting swiftly to secure Caitlin’s services for the next three seasons. Hopefully this is the start of a period of greater investment in the Celtic’s women side because Fran Alonso has proved time and time again that he has an eye for a player and can assemble a title challenging, trophy winning Celtic side on an absolute shoestring.
Think about this. There’s much more chance of Fran Alonso leading Celtic to a Champions League final that Ange Postecoglou just because of the way the game is run. Celtic’s realistic aspirations in the men’s game would probably be in the Europa League.
The Daily Record report this morning – note that they are now actually covering the women’s game – that theRangers were monitoring the Caitlin Hayes situation with a view to making a move in the next few weeks.
“There was a lot of talk and women’s football is a small circle so there is always chat going on,” Caitlin Hayes, said yesterday. “I don’t think that there was ever any official move from (the)Rangers or an official approach to the club, it was just a bit of talk which tends to happen. There were also a lot of teams down south who had expressed an interest. But my heart is always with Celtic.
“Celtic made it clear that they wanted me and I appreciated that. I have loved my time here, I have improved as a footballer and I love playing for the club. It was a huge statement from Celtic to give me a contract of this length because often in the women’s game we go from season-to-season. This felt like a statement offer and I think it shows the ambition of this club.
“They want to keep their best players and invest in a competitive team and I definitely want to be a part of that. And my Dad said if I signed for another club he wouldn’t speak to me!”
Stooping the honours at the PFA Scotland and the Celtic Player of the Year awards on Sunday night and signing a new contract yesterday with Celtic, all sets up this weekend’s title drama to have a perfect ending for Scotland’s Player of the Year.
“It has been one of the best weeks of my life and I don’t feel like I have had the chance to enjoy it all,” Caitlin said “Hopefully I can make sure I am enjoying it all come Sunday.”
Caitlin also spoke to The Celtic Star and Cynic Women plus The Celtic Blog at the other media conference yesterday where fan media joins broadcast media and to be fair Sky, BBC and STV were all present as well as a representative from Peter Martin’s channel, so interest is certainly growing in women’s football. The Celtic Star kicked off yesterday’s media conference with Caitlin Hayes which you can watch below…