Following my short interviews with Kirsty Linnett and Coral Haines, here is a Q&A with David Parker, the Birmingham City Ladies manager. The are some very interesting points on the money/foreign players/training time debate. In terms of final table prediction, I expect Birmingham City ladies to achieve mid-table places comfortably.
1.This season seem to be a new era for the WSL with 5 teams training 4-5 times a week ( Notts County, Arsenal, Man City main players, Liverpool). Do you think the teams that train less often including yours still have a chance to compete against those?
To be honest I think this aura of full time training is a myth. Its not about just training sessions for the sake of training (sometimes with just a few players in rather than the whole squad) it has to be about the whole package of the day to day contact so every area of the players development in managed by the club, rather than them just turning up to training 1 additional day over ourselves. Personally I think only 1 club has got this right so far and does put them at an advantage.
2. What are the teams’ target for the season 2014 ?
We will always have internal targets at the club that we will keep to ourselves. We know how good our group is where we should be at come the end of the season. For the bookies and general public to label us as relegation favorites definitely adds a little spice for us now to prove them wrong. But overall its all about improving on each campaign which we have done in the last 3 seasons.
3. Liverpool has shown the way last season with more training sessions and importing a good number of foreign players to achieve short term success. It seems that this is the trending model now with many teams importing foreign players.
There are two sides to this argument. Only the top international players should be targeted to come over and improve our game, I don’t have a problem with this, like the Japanese girls for example. However there have been many cases already of average foreigners coming over and adding nothing to the league then disappearing, this is not positive for our game. They are taking up valuable financial resources and also playing time for our younger generation. Foreign players will always demand a higher financial package then there domestic counterparts. This is taking FA money directly out of the hands of the players they are trying to benefit, our own! I am not comfortable with this what so ever. For example take a player ‘X’ they have played for many years in the old Premier League season on season paying our of their own pocket to fund their passion, then the FAWSL comes along and they earn a little bit of money. Now the league explodes they get a slight increase in wages for playing, still balancing their part time job. A foreigner arrives and becomes a full time pro straight away on 2,3,4,5 times (and the rest!) of their salary. Where is the justice? As a player how would you feel? Especially in a game where financial resources are still tight that one/two/three player(s) are earning astronomical wages compared to the rest of the squad. Its not good for the dressing room.
a) Do you think the new homegrown rule for the FA WSL season is a positive thing.
It doesn’t go far enough…2 Non-EU players maximum (playing at any one time) plus 50% of the squad to be ‘homegrown’. Really?? anyone can get around these rules… People forget about duel nationality’s etc.
b) Do you think some teams have decided to sacrifice english players development in favour of short term results?
Absolutely! But its not just about that. How about instead of paying a foreigner ridiculous amounts of money, share it around the English girls so they can all have a bit of the pie and all of them can go full time. That was the point of the league in the first place.
4. Considering some teams have probably 3 or 4 times your team’s budget, does the move to the Autotech Stadium opens new business/sponsorship opportunities to find new income streams to be able to compete in the future with teams well supported by their men’s side.
3-4 times our budget!!?? And the rest Sylvain!! Its quite shocking if I could disclose the real figures. We have always been at the bottom of the money table, people didn’t think that when we started but i can tell you we were! We have been constantly over achieving for 3 seasons, people really do seem to forget that. We do have a good business model though that is secure for the future. We need to be realistic and because we are Birmingham City we are not going to be able to complete with a Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, £ for £ because of the men’s side huge resources. But what we can do and always will do is go about things slightly differently. The people we have at this football club is second to none with out a doubt, and this draws every last bit of quality we need to compete. Put it this way we haven’t got to the Champions League q/final without having a little something about us even though we don’t have the money every else does. We have been the 2nd most successful side in the FAWSL era on one of the lowest budgets that says it all really.
5. Do you use prozone and opta stats with BCLFC ?
Yes Prozone, it covers far more depth of analysis for the professional market. For example OPTA code around 1800 ball touches a game whereas Prozone covers 2500 plus. I’m pretty familiar with the Prozone gear too…wonder why? ha
Note : David Parker is an account manager at Prozone