Birmingham City Women: FA investigating possible WSL licence breach following letter from playing staff

Birmingham's players sent a letter to the club's board last week detailing grievances with facilities, travel, and budget restrictions; the WSL side were beaten 6-0 by league leaders Chelsea on Sunday; Fran Kirby, Beth Mead, Katie McCabe, and others speak out in support of Blues players

PA - Birmingham City Women on way from changing rooms
Image: Birmingham's players wrote a letter to the club's hierarchy last week outlining grievances which they argue prevent them doing their jobs to the best of their ability

The FA is looking into whether Birmingham City have breached the terms of their WSL licence, following concerns raised by their players.

As reported by the Sunday Telegraph, Birmingham's playing staff wrote a letter last week detailing issues around facilities, travel, and budget restrictions which was sent to the club's board.

The letter reportedly included the sentiment that playing staff feel some of their working conditions "prevent us from performing our jobs to the best of our ability".

The FA is also working with Birmingham to ensure they are able to complete their remaining fixtures this season.

The club has declined to comment to Sky Sports News, but a Birmingham spokesperson has spoken to the Sunday Telegraph, in response to the letter sent by their playing staff.

Birmingham City v Brighton and Hove Albion - FA Women's Super League - Stadium
A general view of a corner flag before the FA Women's Super League match at Stadium, Birmingham. 17 January 2021
Image: The FA is investigating the letter sent by Birmingham's players to the club's board

The club spokesperson said: "The letter was received, in the last week, and responded to. A request to meet with the board was made in the letter and the request was the first formal request to be received.

"It's no secret we have one of the lowest budgets in the league, Covid has only compounded this. This certainly makes it difficult to compete, but we're doing our best on and off the pitch in what is a very difficult time for professional football."

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On travel issues, Birmingham said: "We are lucky to be based in the middle of the country where we can easily make journeys to our games without the need to stay overnight, whilst still being able to prepare our team in the best way possible to compete."

Regarding the medical concerns, the club spokesperson stated: "There are no plans to not be competing in the WSL next season, and the team are fully focused on doing what is required to keep Birmingham City in the WSL.

"Both the men's and women's first teams are yet to secure survival in their respective leagues. This makes it hard to start contract negotiations for next season. It has been a challenging time for everyone, including us.

Birmingham Women manager Carla Ward (L) and assistant Alan Reeves (R) are working to ensure the club avoids relegation this season
Image: Birmingham Women manager Carla Ward (L) and assistant Alan Reeves (R) are working to ensure the club avoids relegation this season

"We are working towards and hoping to secure survival for both teams, so we can continue to plan for the future of the club."

Birmingham were thrashed 6-0 by league leaders Chelsea on Sunday and are ninth in the WSL, following their 11th defeat in the division this season.

WSL stars unite in support of Birmingham's players

A number of WSL team members, including Birmingham's Christie Murray, have spoken out about the grievances put forward by the Blues players, with some commenting on the club's response.

Murray tweeted: "The girls deserve better; the women's game deserves better. More needs to be done to create an elite environment moving forward."

Arsenal's Katie McCabe said: "The players, staff & fans of @BCFCWomen deserve so much more. It's 2021, things have to improve and clubs need to support their women's teams!! We stand with you."

Fran Kirby, who scored twice for Chelsea against Birmingham on Sunday, said: "It's a shame in 2021 we still have women's teams competing in the top league in England having to ask for help like this.

"We should all be given the chance to perform at the highest level we can, Birmingham Women we all stand with you."

PA - Fran Kirby
Image: Fran Kirby says every player should be given the opportunity to play at the highest level, following grievances expressed by Birmingham Women

Arsenal's Leah Williamson tweeted: "Another example of the imbalance between expectations of women's athletes and the support provided to them. Things have to change to help, not hinder them."

Her team-mate Beth Mead said: "Really sad to still be seeing this happening, fair play to players and all involved at Birmingham for speaking out. The women's game deserves so much more. We are all behind you."

Rachel Corsie, of Kansas City in the USA's NWSL, added: "I am proud and in support of these strong and ambitious professionals who push for needed change.

"The club isn't 'doing its best'. What a shameful response. So great to see the power of unity, as so many fellow players in the league also add their support."

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