Carla Ward has resigned as manager of the Birmingham City Women after leading the WSL club to an unlikely exit from relegation.
The 37-year-old took on a squad with only eight available senior players in August with the challenge of keeping Birmingham up despite the division’s smallest budget.
Ward could often only name two or three substitutes during a difficult season when the Blues went into their last game of the season. Relegation was still possible, and only one player on the bench, goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse.
The club had already been hit with a point deduction in the days before the game because they had used an ineligible player, but were able to avoid relegation by finishing eleventh with two points.
“When I walked through the door last August and had the opportunity to work for the BFAWSL for the first time, I couldn’t predict what the next year would be like. It was a trip I am extremely proud of,” said Ward that will go at the end of the season.
Ward’s campaign was hampered by off-field issues as the Birmingham players complained to the club’s board of directors about a lack of support compared to that of the men’s team, which led to an investigation by the FA.
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Complaints were reported to include players earning less than the minimum wage, delays in treating injured players, lack of access to the gym and locker rooms at the training ground, and travel preparations for away games.
She added: “This year will be with me forever, from our first league win in Reading to reaching the FA Cup semi-finals and the late goals that kept our safety.
“All the fantastic memories that this incredible group of players made possible and in the end we achieved what a lot of people said we couldn’t.”
Ward will see the season as manager and will be on the field in the FA Cup fifth round clash against Southampton on Sunday.
Four WSL clubs are now looking for managers
Birmingham are the fourth WSL club to look for a new boss following the resignation of Manchester United’s Casey Stoney and Arsenal’s Joe Montemurro, while Aston Villa parted ways with manager Marcus Bignot and head coach Gemma Davies.
Earlier on Friday, Sky Sports News had learned that Eni Aluko was leaving her role as Aston Villa Women’s sports director.
She is expected to take a job at a high profile women’s club before the new season starts.
An announcement of Aluko’s next club is not expected for a few more weeks.
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