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Leicester Women suspend manager Willie Kirk over alleged relationship with player

Willie Kirk
Willie Kirk is an experienced manager in the women's game - Getty Images/Leicester City FC

Leicester City Women manager Willie Kirk has been suspended by the club pending an investigation into an allegation that he had a relationship with a player.

The investigation – first reported by the Guardian on Friday evening – means that Kirk will not take charge of his side’s Women’s FA Cup quarter-final away at Liverpool on Saturday.

A Leicester spokesperson told Telegraph Sport: “Willie Kirk is assisting the club with an internal process, the outcomes of which will be determined in due course.

“Assistant manager Jennifer Foster and first-team coach Stephen Kirby will take charge of the team for Saturday’s FA Women’s Cup tie at Liverpool.”

Kirk and his representatives have each been contacted for a response.

Kirk has been Leicester’s manager since November 2022, having previously worked as their director of football. He guided the club to safety in the top flight last term, escaping the drop after initially taking over when they were at the bottom of the table. His side are currently seventh in the WSL, 10 points clear of the relegation zone.

The 45-year-old has previously managed Women’s Super League clubs including Bristol City and Everton, as well as Scottish side Hibernian, and had a spell as assistant manager at Manchester United.

One source close to the Leicester squad said on Friday night that the news of the investigation had come as a shock. Kirk conducted his usual pre-match press conference and routine media duties on Thursday afternoon ahead of the club’s trip to Liverpool.

After Saturday’s cup tie, Leicester are set to travel to Tottenham on Sunday 17 March in the WSL and then host Brighton seven days later, before travelling to Aston Villa on Saturday 30 March.

For Leicester, this investigation comes just a month after it emerged that their former manager, Jonathan Morgan, had been sacked by Sheffield United Women because the South Yorkshire club had learned that Morgan had a relationship with a player while he was previously in charge at Leicester.

Speaking to The Athletic in February, Morgan admitted to having had a relationship with a Leicester City player while he was their manager. That player’s name was withheld to protect her anonymity. Her mother said the player was 17 when the relationship started with Morgan, who was in his late 20s at that time. The player accused him of taking advantage of her “immaturity”. Morgan insisted that she had been 18 at the time of their relationship.

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