Firstly, Birmingham City Football Club is extremely proud of the history and achievements of the Women’s team and the current playing squad. The Club will always support our players and staff in every way we can.
We were disappointed to learn that a private and internal matter was made public over the weekend. Whilst media reports did discuss concerns of the players, several of the points raised were factually incorrect or lacked important context.
We were particularly disappointed in the inaccuracies reported by Sky Sports News and The Athletic, some claims have been particularly damaging and some so ridiculous, they don’t warrant any attention.
A letter, signed on behalf of the playing squad, was received and responded to within seven days. The efforts of the players have started an open dialogue between the board and the Women’s squad to provide clarity on these issues. In that letter, a request to meet with the board was made and that request has since been fulfilled.
It is no secret we have one of the lowest budgets in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and whilst the Club has supported the Women’s set-up with large investment over recent years, this is incomparable to some of the budgets that exist in the league today. The Women’s football landscape has changed drastically with more investment and resources required year-on-year.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to compound an already difficult situation. The impact of this will be felt by many Club’s across the country and we do not believe that many of the challenges we face, are unique to Birmingham City.
Whilst we have a small squad size in relation to other Clubs in the BFAWSL, we also have an obligation to fund the team responsibly and the Club have worked hard to recruit players in keeping with our playing budget.
Some of the issues raised relate to the size of our facilities in addition to our staffing levels. We continue to work with the FA regarding licensing criteria and contrary to reports, we meet all minimum wage regulations in relation to contracted players.
We are satisfied with our current matchday medical arrangements in relation to our Team Doctor being present and will meet FA regulations as the home and away side, as we have all season. It is not the norm for a Club Doctor to travel with an away side in the BFAWSL.
There are always improvements that can be made but moving the Women’s team to the Trillion Trophy Training Centre in 2019 was a big step forward. There are still challenges to overcome in accommodating all of our teams in one location, but we will continue to work towards finding the best possible solution for all parties.
Many of our buildings at our Wast Hills training facility are semi-permanent structures as they were viewed as the appropriate choice when we upgraded our infrastructure in the summer of 2019.
In response to the widely reported medical room, this is used as a multi-functional space, allowing for assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. Whilst we would like to have a larger, more purpose-built facility, the Club are not funded to the same extent as some of our BFAWSL competitors.
Our Men’s, Women’s and development teams often train at the same time. It is therefore impossible for all teams to access our in-house gym facility – more so when you factor in COVID-19 restrictions. We have a partnership in place, which is exclusive to our Women’s team, with a local hotel gym that gives the players access to fantastic facilities, including a swimming pool and private area. COVID-19 restrictions have forced gym facilities to close, but an appropriate solution is in place with equipment being moved into our large, multifunctional dome to facilitate these sessions.
Our designated ground staff work tirelessly to ensure that all teams have access to a suitable playing surface and will continue to prepare pitches to the best of their ability. As with all of our teams, inclement weather can sometimes force training sessions to be moved to our indoor dome.
Geographically, we are fortunate enough to be based in the middle of the country where we can travel to our away fixtures without having to stay overnight. There are exceptions, such as our rearranged early kick-off at Chelsea this weekend where the team travelled down and stayed the night before matchday. Teams reserve the right to operate how they choose and not every team travel the night before every away match as part of their preparations.
The claim that “the board decided to give three points” to Tottenham Hotspur is false. The Club insisted that the result of this game should be decided on the pitch, however, an independent tribunal ruled that the points were to be awarded to our opponents. We contested at the time and expressed our “great disappointment” at the decision, which was widely reported.
Looking further ahead to next season, both the Men’s and Women’s teams are yet to secure survival in their respective leagues. This makes it difficult to begin contract negotiations for the 2021/22 campaign. We are hopeful that in the coming weeks we can preserve our status in the Sky Bet Championship and BFAWSL and continue to plan for the future of the Club.
The Club remains fully focused on doing what is required to keep Birmingham City in the division with some positive announcements already in the pipeline.
The Club has been working hard to secure a long-term home for our Women’s team that meets all BFAWSL criteria for the 2022/23 season onwards and we are in advanced discussions with a party who we hope to reach an agreement with. In the meantime, we are delighted to confirm that our Women’s team will be fulfilling their home fixtures at St. Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium for the 2021/22 season, should we preserve our BFAWSL status. This was agreed with the FA in recent weeks.
We are extremely grateful to Solihull Moors Football Club for all of their support over the last few years and as we continue to fulfil our home fixtures at the SportNation.Bet Stadium (Damson Park), we will be saying farewell at the end of the 2020/21 season.
The Club continue to work hard to attract commercial partners to support our Women’s team. This season alone, we have agreed deals with five new partners and a record front of shirt sponsorship deal. These companies deliver increased revenue and there are further significant deals currently on the table, which will be announced once finalised and agreed.
Finally, we are keen to emphasise that the Club remains committed to providing support for our Women’s team. We will further the conversation internally in a bid to address players’ concerns, the details of which, will remain private.
Carla Ward, Birmingham City Women’s Head Coach, commented, “This week we have held positive discussions with the board relating to the concerns raised by the players.
“It was never the intention of the players for the letter to be made public and many of the points were misrepresented.
“We are working together to move forward and will remain in communication with the board to resolve matters internally.
“We are now approaching a vital stage of the season and will focus all our efforts on winning as many games as possible to keep the Club in the BFAWSL.”
We will be making no further comment at this time.