Birmingham City manager Carla Ward worried open letter could impact player recruitment

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Fiona Tomas
·3 min read
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Birmingham City boss Carla Ward is worried the open letter could impact player recruitment this summer if the club maintains its place in the WSL - Alex Davidson /Getty Images Europe 
Birmingham City boss Carla Ward is worried the open letter could impact player recruitment this summer if the club maintains its place in the WSL - Alex Davidson /Getty Images Europe

The Birmingham City manager, Carla Ward, has admitted the recent concerns raised by her side in a letter to the club’s board could impact on player recruitment if the club maintains its top-flight status next season.

The letter, which was signed by Ward’s entire first-team squad and first revealed by Telegraph Sport earlier this month, listed numerous grievances which the players say “prevent us from performing our jobs to the best of our ability”.

Access to changing facilities, inadequate medical provision, a lack of hotels for away games and allegations that some of the key coaching staff are not full-time employees were among the players’ wide-ranging concerns.

Speaking for the first time since the letter was made public, Ward, who has been acting as a liaison between the players and the board, said “some” of the complaints had already been addressed.

But she conceded other issues could not be resolved “overnight” and remained realistic about the potential repercussions it could have on attracting new players to the club if it maintains its Women’s Super League status next season.

“Naturally, there’s always that worry,” said Ward, whose side are ninth in the WSL, three points and three places clear of the relegation zone with four games remaining.

“It’s got to be a worry, it’s something that we’ve discussed as a football club and that’s why for me, more than ever we’ve got to try and get these conversations started.

Birmingham City are currently in a fight for their WSL lives, three points and three positions off the relegation zone - Naomi Baker /Getty Images Europe 
Birmingham City are currently in a fight for their WSL lives, three points and three positions off the relegation zone - Naomi Baker /Getty Images Europe

“While I believe I can be quite convincing and quite annoying on the phone and try and get people through the door, ultimately time is against us now and we’ve got to ensure that these conversations are had sooner rather than later.”

Birmingham’s squad size is already one of the smallest in the WSL, with Ward having just eight senior players when she took over last August.

While she would not be drawn on the specifics of “positive discussions” that have taken place in light of her side voicing their grievances, she conceded that “ultimately, players will need security”.

Last week, Birmingham announced that the women will play their home matches at St Andrew’s, the home of their men’s Championship side, next season if they avoid relegation from the WSL.

Birmingham’s concerns sparked widespread condemnation from the football community, including England players such as goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck, who labelled the alleged conditions as “unacceptable”.

Ward said that her players, who host Midlands rivals Coventry in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, have been “in good spirits” since their complaints were made public.

“It hasn’t let it dampen them,” she said. “They’ve been exceptional on the training pitch since [the letter was made public] so credit to them for that and hopefully while there’s work going on in the background, they’re fully focused on making sure we can get the points.”