Blues hit back over ‘unacceptable’ conditions for women’s team

Birmingham City has hit back at reports suggesting that the situation with its Blues Women team is “unacceptable”.

The move comes after England goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck sent a letter to the club’s board complaining about the conditions the women’s team had to play under.

Roebuck, the Manchester City goalkeeper said: “Looking in from the outside, it’s not good enough.

“In the women’s game, we’re now at a level where that is not acceptable at all. I’m really lucky to be at a club where everything is top level and the equality throughout the building is top drawer.

“We all need to be at a level which can help players perform to the best of their ability. If they can be provided with better facilities, that will help the growth of the game and individuals. Hopefully it gets resolved.”

The statement followed complaints from the players at Birmingham City Womens Football Club over training facilities, changing rooms and travel to away fixtures.

Blue have now issued a statement, saying it is “disappointed” that an internal matter has become a public.

The statement said: “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, said the statement.

It added: “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 Barclay’s 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.

“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 foctor 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, Blues said it is used as a multi-functional space, allowing for assessment, treatment and rehabilitation, adding:
“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 – less 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.

Carla Ward, Birmingham City Women’s head coach, said: “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.”

Birmingham are ninth in the Women’s Super League, three points above the relegation zone with four games remaining.