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Rachel Corsie column: I wasn’t surprised to see women’s players take stand about issues at Birmingham City – Evening Express

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A week has almost passed since it was reported things were not well at Birmingham City.

The night of the women’s side’s 6-0 FAWSL defeat to Chelsea, it was revealed the players had united to approach the board about concerning and unprofessional working conditions.

Having spent some time at the Blues earlier in the season, I am not entirely surprised the players have eventually had to make a firm stand to bring attention to their cause and force much-needed change.

Knowing first-hand how honest and hard working the group is, the confrontation will be uncomfortable for many as they seek respect from those in charge.

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Birmingham City Women are a direct affiliate of the men’s club, and as such are under the same ownership group.

While the women’s team is granted access to the main training ground and wears the same kit of the men’s first team, it almost compounds how significantly unequal some of the treatment of the women continues to be.

A few examples of the day-to-day bias faced by the women which I experienced includes the team being told to park in the furthest away section of the grounds, with the archaic rules allowing only the men’s first team preferential treatment in the main car park.

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Meanwhile, the team has permission to train on their assigned “women’s” pitch, that is notably the furthest away from the pavilion. There is also a stark contrast in quality between this surface and the several pitches set aside – largely unused – that are exclusively for men’s first and reserve team training.

These were just two of the initial signs that I was welcomed with when I arrived at the club back in August. While of course these matters are maybe immaterial in isolation, it reflected the clear bias within the organisation.

Most of the talk around the inequality debate surrounds money and the commercial revenue of the game.

However, both of these examples make quite clear the disparity experienced by women’s players on a daily basis and how simple changes could help make everyone feel valued.

The letter that was written by the Birmingham City Women’s players to the club’s hierarchy covered a whole range of issues they’ve experienced, which carry valid concerns over the support provided by the club to enable the players to perform at any level, never mind an elite one. The lack of resources afforded to the women’s team has jeopardised player wellbeing and belittles the current status of the game.

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The club’s initial dismissive response was another reflection of their attitude to how irrelevant they consider the women’s team. Their comments regarding their “best efforts” were quickly revoked and they have since announced that changes will be made, the first being a positive public announcement that next season home games will be played at St Andrew’s Stadium.

The FA are expected to look into matters, with the PFA also supporting the Birmingham City Women’s players.

The price of failing to follow the FA’s league-wide parameters can include a deduction of points, which would leave the side in the even more precarious position of being relegated to WSL 2.

Rangers and Glasgow City ruthless on re-opening day

The top two made no mistake on the re-opening day of the SWPL 1 season.

Rangers were the early kick-off, in the game of the round, and they made fairly light work of Hearts, coming away with a 6-0 win to maintain their top spot.

The goals came from Zoe Ness and Kirsty Howat, with Lizzie Arnot and Sam Kerr grabbing a brace each. Recently-capped Scotland internationalist Kerr found herself leaping highest to net a rare header which was probably the pick of the bunch.

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On the other side of Glasgow, City faced one of their rivals as they welcomed Celtic. The fixture carries a little added edge after Celtic’s win a year ago was considered void after the 2020 season was cancelled due to the prolonged impacts of the first lockdown.

The new 2020/21 season began with the same fixture on the opening day, which added insult to injury when City took all three points.

The outcome last weekend followed the same course.

City finally got to showcase their winter signings, as five players made a long overdue league debut. They splashed out in the January window, only to see the shutdown continue long into the new year.

Two of the debutants would earn themselves further recognition, as they also marked the occasion with goals. City took a first-half lead through Aoife Colvill, before newcomers Arna Asgrimsdottir and Niamh Farrelly both found the back of the net from set-pieces, with the game ending 3-0.

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