Carla Ward mulls permanent ground switch for Birmingham City Women

Sportsbeat
·3 min read
Soccer Football - Women's Super League - Birmingham City v Manchester City - St George's Park, Burton Upon Trent, Britain - February 28, 2021 Birmingham City manager Carla Ward before the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - Women's Super League - Birmingham City v Manchester City - St George's Park, Burton Upon Trent, Britain - February 28, 2021 Birmingham City manager Carla Ward before the match Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

Boss Carla Ward admitted Birmingham City may look to permanently move away from their Damson Park ground, after being forced to play a ‘home’ Barclays FA WSL clash at St George's Park for the second week in a row.

The Blues fell to a 4-0 defeat against title-chasing Manchester City at the FA’s national football centre, which was picked to host the February 28 clash following the decision that their usual ground at Solihull Moors hadn’t met the requirements in the rules and regulations of the league.

Between Birmingham and men’s National League outfit Solihull Damson Park has felt the strain of tough winter conditions and fixture congestion, and Ward expects her side’s midweek match against Everton to be moved to St George's Park as well as Sunday’s battle with Arsenal.

And while she accepts the temporary move helps ensure all fixtures can be completed, the 37-year-old hinted that finding a new home might eventually be more fitting in line with the standards demanded by what she believes is the best league in the world.

“Anything’s possible,” she said. “It’s been well documented that we’ve had a few issues there, and we’ve had more postponements that anybody else.

“We’re talking about the best league in the world and the best players in the world, and the best players deserve the best facilities. I don’t know what it looks like at the moment but the powers that be will most likely be having those discussions.

“It’s fair to say the FA have done everything that can to ensure we don’t have any more postponements, with both us and Solihull having lots of games coming up. They’re helping us fulfil our fixtures, so I’m fully supportive of that.

“But it was tough playing Manchester City on the biggest pitch in England, and it’s another huge game against Arsenal now. It’s looking very likely that Everton will be there as well, but after that I’m not sure.”

That defeat against Manchester City stretched Birmingham’s winless run in the league to five games, which started with a 3-0 defeat away at Arsenal at the beginning of December.

Joe Montemurro’s Gunners will be looking to gain further ground in the race for the top three after claiming their first win of 2021 last time out against Aston Villa, but Ward is confident that key boosts to her ranks can fire Birmingham to a fourth victory of the season.

Teenager Ruby Mace - who is registered with both Birmingham and the Arsenal academy - is available to play, while Christie Murray could also feature after battling back from injury.

Ward added: “It’s going to be tough, but I love these occasions. We’ve got to be prepared, we know we’ll be without the ball for large parts, but we’ve had an unbelievable attitude as a group this year and we’ve got to take that into Sunday.

“I wasn’t sure Arsenal were going to let Ruby play but I’m very thankful they have said yes. It’s great for us but it’s also good for Arsenal because they’ll get to see Ruby compete in a WSL environment against their own.

“Christie’s back in the squad and available for selection this weekend, which is massive. She’s a real leader on and off the pitch, so just having her in and around the group raises the levels.”

Sportsbeat 2021