Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has hailed Barclays’ multi-million pound sponsorship deal as a watershed moment for the game.
The banking giants were on Wednesday unveiled as the new title sponsors of the Women’s Super League in a deal understood to be worth more than £10 million.
And Hayes, whose side host Paris St Germain in the opening leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash on Thursday, believes Barclays’ investment is another major stride in the continued rise of the WSL.
“The women’s game is at a tipping point,” said Hayes. “I have been saying for some time that this year would be the watershed moment, and today’s announcement demonstrates that we have got the pulling power to bring the very best to the league.
“Tell me a league in the women’s game that can attract a sponsor like Barclays with their level of investment? It is absolutely brilliant news, and a significant step in the right direction.”
Chelsea will face PSG at Kingsmeadow bidding to become the first English club to reach the Champions League final in more than a decade.
England international Karen Carney won the tournament with Arsenal in 2007, while also reaching the last four with Birmingham five years ago.
Reflecting on that game in 2014, Carney, 31, said: “I don’t recall having a press conference like this one before that match.
“I look back and the level of interest was disappointing. We were in a semi-final of the Champions League, the only English side left in it, and nobody knew about it. That hurt and it still does now.
“It motivated the likes of myself and Emma to push the game on so we do have days like today where there is interest.
“The game is getting so big, so fast, and we want to create a legacy for the next set of Chelsea players so they have a room double the size of this one with even more people asking questions.”
Chelsea reached the last four of the Champions League last season before coming unstuck against Wolfsburg.
The Blues are set to face the German side in the next stage if they see off PSG.
Hayes added: “We are much better prepared than we were 12 months ago because of the accumulative experience that the players have. You would be hard-pressed to find a better squad in Europe than the one here.
“This team has got accustomed to playing in big games and this is a match that we have not just prepared for this week, but all season.
“We don’t fear PSG. We respect them, but we know with the personnel we have that we will hurt many teams in Europe.”