League of Ireland to introduce professional contracts  for players in SSE Airtricity Women’s National  League from 2023 season


League of Ireland to introduce professional contracts  for players in SSE Airtricity Women’s National  League from 2023 season

30th Nov 2022
  • Professional contracts to be introduced from December 1st, 2022
  • Landmark milestone means female players are now subject to the same equal minimum wage structures as male counterparts 

The Football Association of Ireland and the League of Ireland can confirm the introduction of professional contracts to players in the SSE Airtricity Women’s National League which will now be permitted in the League from the start of the new registration period on December 1st, 2022. 
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. 
This historic agreement has been reached after the National Leagues Committee approved the introduction of professional contracts and this decision was ratified by the FAI Board.
The National Leagues Committee will also establish a Working Group to monitor implementation and effects of the introduction of professional contracts to the League. This new significant announcement underpins the importance of continued investment into the Clubs which is vital for the long term sustainability of professional women’s football in Ireland. 
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.
As a result of the new regulations, League of Ireland and Women's National League Clubs will now be enabled 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
  • Allow the introduction of loan players into the WNL from other professional leagues

Welcoming this significant development for Women’s football in the Republic of Ireland, League of Ireland Director, Mark Scanlon, said: “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. 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.” 
FAI, Director of Football, Marc Canham, said: “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. Interest in football for women and girls in Ireland has never been stronger and this is another major step forward for our game.”
Chair of the National Leagues Committee, Dermot Ahern, said: “This decision will help bring women’s football here in Ireland towards being on a par with the men’s game. It is a logical and necessary step to assist the further development of our domestic game and will help build on the superb achievements of our international Women’s National Team recently. We hope to continue to work with all interested parties, including Government, and Sport Ireland to further develop women’s football in this country.”
FAI Chief Executive, Jonathan Hill, said: “I’d like to congratulate Mark, his team, Dermot and the whole of the NLC for the thorough way they have approached this landmark move. 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.”