Birmingham City L.F.C.
|Full name||Birmingham City Ladies Football Club|
|Ground||The Autotech Stadium,
|Capacity||3,050 (280 seated)|
|Website||Club home page|
Birmingham City Ladies F.C. is an English women's football club affiliated with Birmingham City F.C.. As founding members of the FA Women's Super League in 2011, the team plays in the highest division of women's football in England. The team plays their home games at Damson Park, the home of Solihull Moors F.C..
The club was formed in 1968 by a group of female fans who played local friendly matches until 1970. They joined the Heart of England League in 1970, and played in the league until 1973 when it underwent a major restructure and become known as the West Midland Regional League in 1974. The club were successful during this period, winning these leagues five times during the entire 70's and 80's (1971–72, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1987–88, 1988–89), amongst other trophies. They reached the semi-final of the Women's FA Cup in 1974 and 1988.
The club ran into difficult times during the 90's, with many staff and player changes. In an effort to regain stability they created an academy of young players, many who eventually played for the senior team.
In 1998 Birmingham City were elevated to the newly created Midland Combination League and in their first season won the league, gaining automatic promotion into the FA Women's Premier League Northern Division. After two seasons, Birmingham were promoted to the top flight of women's football in England, joining the FA Women's Premier League National Division in 2002. Also in 2001–02 Birmingham upset Doncaster Belles 4–3 in the FA Women's Premier League Cup semi-final. In the final at Adams Park, Wycombe, Birmingham were thrashed 7–1 by full-time professional Fulham Ladies.
In March 2003, local sports reporter Gary Newbon criticised women's football and bet the club £500 that they could not attract 500 supporters to their upcoming match against Doncaster Belles. Humiliated Newbon lost his bet. The academy had begun to produce players for the first team at this point, and Laura Bassett became the first Birmingham City Ladies player, from the academy or otherwise, to appear for England at full international level.
The club's high-profile manager of the time, Marcus Bignot, signed big name players including Rachel Yankey and Alex Scott for the 2004–05 season and Birmingham finished fourth. The club ran into financial problems when Karren Brady of Birmingham City's men reneged on a letter of intent to provide funding. The female club had to let major players go before the start of the 2005–06 season, which they finished in sixth position. They were only able to continue after a player's parent donated £10,000.
Also in 2005, the club's junior sides joined the newly formed Centre of Excellence league in the Central Warwickshire area. Birmingham won their eighth consecutive Birmingham FA County Cup in 2008 before a number of established players either retired from the game or moved on to other clubs. They began to rebuild and finished 2008–09 in fifth place (losing out on fourth place only through inferior goal difference). Also in 2005 the club left Redditch United's The Valley Stadium for Stratford Town's DCS Stadium.
In March 2010 the club was announced as a founder member of the FA WSL. The club's successful application was underwritten by Birmingham City's controversial new owner Carson Yeung. In December 2010, Birmingham City announced the signing of several international players to their WSL squad. In June 2011 the Centre of Excellence's future was secured with the allocation of a new FA licence for 2011–12 season onwards; which realigned the current development pathway for women's football in England.
The club became inaugural members of the newly formed FA WSL in 2011 and came close to winning it at the first attempt, leading for most of the campaign before being overhauled by Arsenal. They also reached the Continental Cup Final but once again found Arsenal in the way at Burton Albion F.C. The season was notable for the goalscoring exploits of Rachel Williams who scored the league's first ever hat-trick, finished as leading scorer and won the FA Players' Player of the Year Award.
Due to their 2nd-place finish in the 2011 FA WSL Birmingham qualified for a place in the 2012–13 UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32 for the first time in their history. Drawn against Italians Bardolino Verona, Birmingham won the first leg 2–0 but lost 3–0 at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi, after extra time, to exit the competition at the first hurdle.
In May 2012 the club won their first FA Women's Cup, beating Chelsea on penalties in the final at Ashton Gate in Bristol. Also in 2012, for the second consecutive year, the club finished 2nd in the FA WSL and were runners-up in the Continental Cup Final, both to Arsenal. The 2nd-place finish in the league qualified Birmingham for the 2013–14 UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32.
Birmingham defeated PK-35 Vantaa and Zorky Krasnogorsk to qualify for an all-English quarter-final against Arsenal. A 1–0 win at home and a 2–0 win in London sent the club through to a semi-final against Tyresö FF. Birmingham manager David Parker described big-spending Tyresö as female "galácticos" before the tie, which the Swedes won 3–0 on aggregate. The club underwent another stadium change in 2014, leaving the DCS Stadium for Solihull Moors' The Autotech Stadium.
In 2013 Birmingham City Ladies signed a deal with controversial Italian kit manufacturer Legea, who also supplied North Korea, Iran and Zimbabwe. In early 2014, the club announced that Sondico would be the kit supplier until the end of 2015.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
For details of current and former players, see Category:Birmingham City L.F.C. players.
- Runners Up: 2011, 2012
- Winners: 2011/12
- Runners Up: 2011, 2012
- Runners Up: 2001/02
Heart of England League
- Champions: 1971/72
West Midland Regional League
- Champions: 1974/75, 1976/77, 1987/88, 1988/89
- Champions: 1998/99
- Champions: 2001/02
- List of women's association football clubs in England and Wales
- Women's football in England
- List of women's association football clubs
- "Get to know Birmingham City Ladies". FA WSL. 14 March 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Leighton, Tony (2002-01-13). "Birmingham shock Doncaster". BBC. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2011-09-07.
- Hall, Max (8 April 2002). "Football: Blues no match for full-time Fulham". The Birmingham Post. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- "Birmingham City rally to beat Gary Newbon challenge". femaleSOCCER.net. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Turner, Georgina (4 August 2005). "That's no way to treat the ladies". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Leighton, Tony (25 July 2005). "Birmingham Ladies may exit league". BBC Sport. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
- Tony Leighton (8 November 2009). "New Birmingham City owners pledge to support women's team". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
- "Exciting Blues news!". She Kicks. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2010.
- Leighton, Tony (3 October 2012). "Birmingham City out of Women's Champions League". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- Nisbet, John (27 May 2012). "Shoot-out has unhappy ending for Chelsea Ladies". The Independent. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- "Women's football: Birmingham Ladies braced for biggest test". Sky Sports. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-12.
- "Business is business, says North Korea's sponsor". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
- "Revealed - 2014 kits!". 24 February 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
- "Ladies Players". Birmingham City Ladies FC.com. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
- "2016 squad numbers confirmed". Birmingham City Ladies FC.com. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
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