A wholesale altering of the guard within the West Midlands has seen Birmingham spend the summer season buying a brand new supervisor, a brand new teaching workers, a brand new house and, nearly, a brand new crew.
If any WSL outfit wanted to “rip it up and start again”, it was this one. After all, as just lately as April Birmingham’s whole enjoying workers despatched a letter to the board emphasising that insufficient infrastructure and sub-standard coaching situations had been stopping them from doing their jobs to the perfect of their skills. As the crew’s key defender Harriet Scott, who combines enjoying with finding out for a level in medication, put it on the time: “The players deserve support. The women’s game deserves better.”
It is to the immense credit score of Scott and co, to not point out Birmingham’s former supervisor, Carla Ward, that regardless of removed from excellent follow amenities, medical assist and journey preparations, the squad someway prevented relegation.
Instead Birmingham completed second backside and the extremely regarded Ward decamped to Aston Villa. Given that issues had change into so dangerous the FA briefly relocated her crew to St George’s Park when the pitch at their former Damson Park house turned waterlogged final spring, few may blame her. A chaotically turbulent marketing campaign had additionally concerned the FA awarding Tottenham a win after Ward lacked adequate match gamers to fulfil a WSL fixture and Birmingham being deducted a degree for fielding a suspended participant towards Reading.
When Ward’s squad complained of, amongst different issues, insufficient pay and contractual protections, civil warfare beckoned however the summer season introduced a raft of enhancements. Foremost amongst these alterations had been Scott Booth’s appointment as supervisor and the crew’s groundbreaking transfer to the 24,409 capability St Andrew’s, the stage for all house video games this season.
This floor share with Lee Bowyer’s males’s crew has helped Booth – a 49-year-old former Aberdeen, Borussia Dortmund, FC Twente and Scotland striker who gained quite a few trophies whereas in command of Glasgow City – entice a number of new signings. They embody Cecilie Sandvej, a Denmark left-back recruited from FC Fleury and Louise Quinn, a centre-half from Fiorentina.
So far there have been eight new signings and eight departures. Yet, if there may be purpose for cautious optimism, Booth will do nicely to information his new crew above mid-table. Birmingham could also be longstanding mainstays of the ladies’s high tier however their enjoying finances stays comparatively modest. Eclipsed by huge spending Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal et al they haven’t been alone in struggling to regulate to the league’s shift to full-time professionalism in 2018.
When their behind-the-scenes travails turned public information, a beforehand sealed window was flung open, displaying outsiders that behind the WSL’s shiny veneer there have been golf equipment the place squad gamers earned little greater than the minimal wage and off-field infrastructure was extra Sunday League than Super League.
Bolstered partly by the WSL’s new tv deal, Birmingham have reaffirmed their dedication to the ladies’s crew and up to date actions counsel such phrases carry substance. If Booth’s set up and the relocation to St Andrew’s bodes extraordinarily nicely for the long run, the latest recruitment of an extra physiotherapist in addition to a bodily efficiency coach and a sports activities rehabilitation specialist suggests the small print is lastly being taken care of as nicely.
After enjoying for elite males’s golf equipment, Booth has made it clear he won’t accept second greatest. “There’ve been a lot of changes here,” says Quinn. “It’s important that as
players we keep asking the questions but, so far, it’s all really promising. I have full faith that will continue.”
If anybody can steer Birmingham into higher type after preventing to remain up final season, it’s Scott Booth. His popularity within the sport ought to fill followers with confidence, after main Glasgow City to 6 consecutive Scottish titles. Birmingham badly want the consistency he’ll intention to carry with him.
Louise Quinn A major transfer for Birmingham this summer season was to bag Quinn from Fiorentina. The Republic of Ireland defender comes with a wealth of expertise, having gained the 2018-19 WSL title with Arsenal, and has been named membership captain.
Christie Murray The most enjoyable participant in Birmingham’s squad final season, the adaptable inventive participant sadly fractured her foot throughout pre-season. The membership haven’t confirmed when the Scotland worldwide might be accessible once more – however they’ll hope as quickly as doable.
Emily Ramsey On mortgage from Manchester United, Ramsey presents a protected pair of fingers to scale back the variety of targets conceded. Birmingham let in 44 final WSL season which must be lower in the event that they wish to problem for a top-half end.