Former Arsenal defender Alex Scott believes the Women’s Super League (WSL) can “hand on heart” claim to be the best league in the world following a string of high-profile signings.
Five of the USA’ World Cup winners joined the league during a convulsed transfer window, while England stars Lucy Bronze and Alex Greenwood returned home from European champions Lyon to sign for Manchester City.
Alex Morgan’s switch to Tottenham last weekend gained global attention as she followed fellow USA internationals Sam Mewis, Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath and Christen Press in moving to England. Meanwhile, champions Chelsea paid a club-record fee to recruit Denmark forward Pernille Harder from Wolfsburg.
The ex-England defender, who retired two years ago, feels the influx of talent is a mouthwatering prospect and signifies a major milestone for a competition which launched a decade ago.
“I love it. It’s so exciting. I think when the WSL started, it always had the ambition to want to go on to be the best league in the world. What we are seeing now, we’ve got Euro medallists, World Cup winners, we’ve got our homegrown stars like Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood coming back, and that’s what you want.
“As a top player, you want to be playing week in, week out with the best players and against the best players.”
“It shows the development and everything the FA have done to make sure the women’s game over here is at a stage where we can hand on heart say we are the best league, because we really are.”
Women’s football has received a further boost after the FA announced a three-year deal for the Women’s FA Cup to be sponsored by health and life insurance company, Vitality.
The competition will be known as the Vitality Women’s FA Cup from the quarter-finals of the 2019-20 tournament, which are due to be played later this month, until July 2023. Scott, a Vitality ambassador, has a strong connection to the FA Cup, winning it seven times with the Gunners, most recently in 2016.
In the end, Kelly Simmons, the FA’s director of the women’s professional game, described this investment as “significant”, without going into specific financial details. She believes the deal illustrates the growing power of women’s football, given the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic and current fan restrictions.
“At the moment, sports sponsorship would be a difficult space to try and get new partners in because nobody knows the true impact yet of Covid-19. This just demonstrates where women’s football is at in this country, that it can bring a big brand in like Vitality, investing significantly in this climate.
“It’s on a big growth trajectory and every aspect of it is growing rapidly. It’s really exciting.”