Birmingham respond to women’s team complaints and reveal St Andrew’s plan
England’s Ellen White has strongly criticised the working conditions at Birmingham but the Midlands club have hit back by saying they are committed to the women’s team and plan to relocate their games to St Andrew’s next season.
Although now a Manchester City striker, White was previously with Birmingham and has friends in Carla Ward’s squad. “It’s not OK for a club of Birmingham’s stature in the WSL,” White said. “It’s not OK for their players to be experiencing what they’re going through. It isn’t OK to be happening in the WSL now.”
The Football Association is investigating practices at the club after Ward’s players sent a letter to Birmingham’s hierarchy, highlighting shoddy treatment in comparison with the men’s team.
The letter alleged that some players are earning less than the minimum wage and complained of delays in medical treatment for injured squad members, a lack of access to the training-ground gym, sub-standard practice pitches, a shortage of pre-match overnight hotel stays, lack of payments for non-contract players and inadequate changing facilities and travel arrangements before away fixtures.
In a statement Birmingham insisted they paid all contracted players at least the minimum wage and said: “We are keen to emphasise 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. It is no secret we have one of the lowest budgets in the WSL.”
In an apparent endeavour to broker a truce between players and the board, Ward said: “This week we’ve held positive discussions with the board relating to the concerns raised by the players. Many of the points have been misrepresented [in the media]. We are working together to resolve matters internally.”
The sense of a possible rapprochement was highlighted by a further announcement from Birmingham saying that, providing Ward keeps the team in the WSL, they will leave their Damson Park matchday base – where several games have been postponed this season – and share St Andrew’s with the men’s team next term.
White is delighted her former teammates’ problems are now in the public domain. “I think it’s important it’s been brought to people’s attention,” she said. “Something needs to be done.”
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