Ex-Leicester boss speaks out after being sacked over relationship with player | Football

Willie Kirk was sacked by Leicester in March (Picture: Getty)

Former Leicester City women’s first-team boss Willie Kirk said he has been treated like a ‘criminal’ since being sacked for getting into a relationship with one of his players.

Kirk was appointed manager in November 2022 and helped guide the club to safety after a poor start to the WSL season.

In March this year, however, the 45-year-old was suspended and subsequently sacked after it emerged he had breached the team’s code of conduct by starting the relationship.

Kirk, who revealed he was still in the relationship with the player, admitted his wrongdoing but felt he was let down by the club following his dismissal.

‘From admitting it, I was treated and felt like a criminal,’ he told the Daily Mail. ‘I feel the club could have dealt with it better. I felt there was a lack of consistency with previous investigations.

‘As difficult as it would have been, I felt I was due an audience with the staff and the players to explain myself and apologise face-to-face and to give my side of the story. It might not have kept me there, but we’ll never know.

‘This wasn’t a manager exerting their power who said, “jump into bed with me and I’ll play you in the starting XI.” I’ve just carried this hate, which is wrong, but it’s come from this frustration of not being able to speak about it.

Willie Kirk

Kirk and Chelsea manager Emma Hayes in his last match before his dismissal (Picture: Getty)

‘I’m not a criminal, I’ve not committed a crime. I’ve jeopardised an environment and that is a pretty big thing. The club made mistakes in the past, I came in, turned around a points gap that had never been turned around before, retained WSL status.

‘Now I’ve made a mistake and they don’t want anything to do with me. I felt let down by the club in terms of that.’

Kirk isn’t the only head coach to be sacked this season for a player-coach relationship, with Jonathan Morgan relieved from his post as Sheffield United women’s manager in February for a similar incident at a previous club.

The former Leicester boss insisted that he still hopes to remain in women’s football despite the incident.

‘After 14 years of building my reputation, for it to be destroyed by one mistake, I feel would be harsh,’ he added. ‘It is my mistake and I should never have put myself in that position and I regret making that decision.

‘I’m hoping that somebody is willing to see the good in me. I’m speaking to a couple of clubs outside the UK next week so hopefully something comes of that.’

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