Former Sheffield United Women boss Carla Ward quits as Birmingham City manager after 'unsustainable' season amidst backdrop of problems
Carla Ward, the former Sheffield United manager, has resigned from her post at Birmingham City Women after an ‘unsustainable’ season saw her keep the Blues in the WSL against the odds.
Ward took over at Birmingham after leaving the Blades, inheriting a squad in the midlands that contained just eight senior players. She had the smallest budget in the division and went into the final game of the season, with relegation still a possibility, with just goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse on the bench.
In April, City’s squad sent a letter to the club’s hierarchy highlighting a lack of support available to them compared to the men’s team, with complaints including players earning less than the minimum wage, a lack of access to the gym at the training ground and travel arrangements for away games.
That prompted a statement from City insisting they were committed to the women’s team, but Ward’s resignation was confirmed earlier today. She will see out the season as manager and will be in the dugout for her side's FA Cup fifth round clash with Southampton on Sunday.
"The finer details will always be kept in house and rightly so, and one thing is I will say is I'll be forever grateful to the Blues for allowing me to step into this division,” Ward said.
“I've worked with an exceptional bunch of individuals that have given everything.
"Ultimately, what we've done this year I don't think is sustainable mentally and physically and I think by stepping away and allowing someone else to come in... I think that that's important because ultimately, number one is it's got to be about Birmingham City staying in the WSL."
Ward also questioned whether clubs are set up to keep pace with the growth of women’s football, with Sheffield’s Mille Bright set to be feature in the Chelsea squad which takes on Barcelona in the Champions League final this weekend.
Ward has not agreed a deal with another club, but hopes to remain in the WSL.
"It's been a really tough year for every football club, they've lost tens of millions of pounds and I understand that," Ward added.
"It's a business and it's tough.
"Women's football is moving at a rapid pace. Everybody wants a women's team but I think it's really working out where women's football fits in their organisation.
"Do all football clubs understand the size of women's football, the importance of women's football?
"I think they're questions that every single football club should be looking at each year when they think about how their women's team is set out."
Ward said it was "devastating" telling her players about her decision.
"I came in here quite strong this morning to tell them and I had it pre-rehearsed in my head, what I was going to say,” she said.
“I must admit I don't cry in front of anyone, but after the first two words, I had a complete meltdown. It was horrible.
"But I think it probably sums up how I feel about the group. It was devastating to share that with them, because we've stuck together this year, it's been tough, and they've been unbelievable.
"I'm not going to lie, it was really tough. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't emotional from everybody in the room."