Pitch problems for Birmingham Women force FA to step in and move game

Suzanne Wrack
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Alex Pantling/Getty Images

Birmingham City’s Women’s Super League game against Manchester City on Sunday has been swapped from the team’s Damson Park home to St George’s Park with two days’ notice.

A statement from the Football Association said “the decision was taken by the League’s Executive Operations Committee (EOC) due to Birmingham’s current home ground at Solihull Moors FC not meeting requirements in the Rules and Regulations of the League”.

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Birmingham said the match was moved after consultation with the FA. It is understood the club had been in discussions with the FA for a week over the possible venue change but the manager, Carla Ward, did not appear to have been privy to those talks when she expressed “shock” on Friday.

“I still don’t understand what’s going on,” she said. “I was given 45 minutes prior to tell the players and staff.” She later said: “I was shocked that I had had no time to digest. I’m really thankful to the FA for helping find a solution to our fixture congestion.”

Birmingham have had to postpone four matches because the pitch at Damson Park was frozen or waterlogged and have played the fewest fixtures of any WSL team this season. They are ninth having played 11 games, four fewer than four teams, including the leaders, Chelsea. Tottenham and Aston Villa have played 12 each.

The Guardian understands drainage issues at Damson Park are making it increasingly difficult for the pitch to be used by both Solihull and Birmingham. St Andrew’s is supposed to be the No 1 back-up ground for Birmingham Women but there is believed to be a reluctance within the club hierarchy to allow the women’s team to use the main stadium.

Birmingham were offered the chance to use St George’s Park for their game against Aston Villa on 10 February but are understood to have been unwilling to pay the £500 fee and declined. The match was announced as having been postponed five minutes before kick-off. Birmingham declined to comment on the matter.