Carla Ward will become the new Aston Villa manager, just days after resigning from rivals Birmingham City. The former Sheffield United coach was at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground on Thursday and will complete a quick return to management after leaving Birmingham last week.
A Villa statement read: “Aston Villa can confirm that Carla Ward will become the new manager. She will take up the position next month and will be formally presented in due course.”
Birmingham finished second from bottom of the Women’s Super League table and avoided relegation on the final day of a season scarred by off-field issues. Players took the extraordinary step of writing to Birmingham’s owners to protest at the contrast in facilities and resources provided for the women’s and men’s teams at the club.
In January they pulled out of a WSL game at Tottenham because of a lack of available players because of injury, and could name only one substitute for the return game on the final day of the season. Birmingham also had some matches at their Damson Park home postponed because of poor playing conditions and were deducted a point for fielding an ineligible player during their draw with Reading in April.
Villa are without a manager having sacked Gemma Davies this month, while her assistant Jenny Sugarman and interim manager Marcus Bignot have also departed. The club are in a period of transition with Villa’s sporting director, Eni Aluko, moving to the Los Angeles-based side Angel City FC to take up a similar role.
Angel City will have their first season in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2022. One of the club’s co-founders is the actor Natalie Portman, and other founding investors include the tennis icons Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, the former USA players Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach, and the actors Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Garner, Eva Longoria and James Corden.
Aluko said in a statement on Angel City’s official website: “This is an incredible opportunity to help write Angel City’s first chapter and to build a team that is people-focused and admired by players and fans all over the world. I have no doubt the club will be a trailblazer, not just in the NWSL and women’s soccer but for sports clubs globally.
“As a former player, the club’s determination to make an impact both on the field and in the community is something that I fully support, and I can’t wait to get started. I am thrilled to join a fantastic female-led ownership group, many of whom I have admired and been inspired by from a young age.”
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