The FAI and the League of Ireland have confirmed the introduction of professional contracts to players in the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League from the start of the new registration period today.

From this date, professional players in the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League will be subject to the same Standard Player Contract and minimum wage regulations as men’s players in the League of Ireland.

Clubs competing in the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League will be under no obligation to offer professional contracts to players and, similar to the Men’s game, Clubs will have the option to have full-time or part-time professional players or amateur players depending on the circumstances of each club.

It will not transform every club or offer a professional pathway for every player but it is a significant step forward in terms of equality and well-timed ahead of a surge in interest in the Women’s game hastened by the national team qualification for next summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

A new Working Group is also being established to monitor the implementation and effects of the introduction of professional contracts to the League.

Clubs wishing to sign players on professional contracts in the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League will now also be subject to Domestic Training Compensation Regulations which are in place for the first time a player changes their status from Amateur to Professional.

Club Licensing criteria will also apply to ensure that the change of status from amateur to professional is regulated and clubs will be subjected to Salary Cost Protocols in order to be compliant with Financial Fair Play regulations.

Clubs will now be able to secure their best young players on professional contracts and provide certainty to the club that the player will be signed for the full season; ensure any player who moves to another professional club will do so for a transfer fee; and allow the introduction of loan players into the WNL from other professional leagues.

“Today’s announcement is hugely important in the development of the women’s game in Ireland and represents a watershed moment for the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League,” said League of Ireland Director Mark Scanlon.

“Though attendances, standards and exposure of the game have increased in recent years, women’s football in Ireland still has a long way to go to achieve the potential we know it has.”

“The announcement of professional contracts for SSE Airtricity Women’s National League players will prove to be a significant milestone in the history of the game here and comes at an apt time as our Women’s National Team, which features many of our WNL players, gets ready to compete at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.”

“Clubs will now be able to provide certainty and a platform for growth for their players as they look to progress on and off the pitch. We look forward to working with all our League of Ireland Clubs to help ease this exciting transition.”

“This announcement is a significant one for women’s football in Ireland and comes at a time when we are working together with all strands of the game to ensure a pathway to international and professional football is in place for all the young girls who want to reach the pinnacle of their football potential,” added FAI Director of Football, Marc Canham.

“Interest in football for women and girls in Ireland has never been stronger and this is another major step forward for our game.”

“We have listened closely to the competitive pressures that our clubs have faced and we have now created a pathway to sustainable growth and, most importantly, again committed to a shared and equitable approach to both our men’s and women’s leagues,” concluded FAI CEO Jonathan Hill.