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This article was taken from The Herald Scotland, 2oth February
No booze or betting: Women’s football rejects sponsorship offers
THE organisation which runs Scottish women’s football will never accept commercial partnerships with companies in the alcohol and gambling industries, according to a leading board member.
Speaking on the day when the new league season was launched at Hampden, Vivienne MacLaren, who is director of media and communications at SWF, said: “We have had approaches from companies in both sectors.
“They asked if we wanted to speak to them about sponsorship. We said no because we want women’s football to be a clean sport, and one which helps to educate young girls.
“There are huge problems, in the west of Scotland especially, with gambling and alcoholism. I think it would be absolutely crazy to allow little girls and women to be running around in strips endorsing these sectors.”
Scottish men’s football was once heavily reliant on alcohol sponsorship, and currently both the Scottish FA and SPFL have sponsorship deals with William Hill and Ladbrokes. British football in general is awash with advertising for betting companies – more than a third of English Premier League clubs are sponsored by online bookmakers.
“It’s my opinion, and that of the SWF board, that we wouldn’t just take money for the sake of it,” MacLaren said. “We usually do need money, because we get very little from the Scottish FA and we’re trying to be self-sufficient.
“People might say we’re crazy not accepting sponsorship from these sectors, but if we can survive without it and give ourslelves a bit longer to find the right partners that is the best approach.”
It is understood that SWF, whose annual general meeting is this weekend, are very close to announcing a sponsor for their version of the Scottish Cup. Another commercial partnership is also being investigated.
All 16 clubs in the new eight-team SWPL top divisions were represented at the season’s launch at Hampden. The League Cup gets underway a week tomorrow (sun) and the league early next month.
The sport, which was actively discouraged for 50 years by the SFA until the early 1970s, continues to grow in numbers. There are now 10,000 active players in Scotland, and the target is to double that by 2020.
“It’s not just about football, it’s about health and wellbeing,” MacLaren said. “I understand why a business employing a lot of people would have to consider alcohol and betting sponsorship, but we want to make women’s football as clean as possible.”