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Sacked manager over relationship with player breaks silence. Defiant former Leicester City boss Willie Kirk says he’s being ‘treated Like a criminal’

Willie Kirk has given his version of events after being sacked by Leicester City.

Leicester City


Manager Willie Kirk was sacked by Leicester City in March after admitting to having a relationship with a player at the club. He was dismissed after a three-week investigation with a subsequent appeal proving unsuccessful.

Why did Leicester take this course of action?

Kirk has admitted to having the affair and hoped his honesty and co-operation would give him some leniency. However, Leicester felt his behaviour had “breached the team’s code of conduct to a degree that makes his position untenable.”

The full club statement read: “Leicester City Football Club can confirm that Willie Kirk has been dismissed from his position as LCFC Women Manager.

“Following an extensive internal disciplinary process and respecting the club’s obligations to individual privacy, Willie was determined to have breached the team’s code of conduct to a degree that makes his position untenable.

“Established and implemented ahead of the start of the current season, the code forms part of the club’s ongoing commitment to professionalising the women’s game since the takeover of LCFC Women in 2020, promoting a performance-led culture among players, coaches and technical staff.”

What did Kirk say in response?

He told the Daily Mail: “First of all, me and my wife have been separated for over a year. I think people just now are going ‘he’s a bad coach, he’s a bad husband, he’s a bad human.’

“From admitting it, I was treated and felt like a criminal. I feel the club could have dealt with it better. I felt there was a lack of consistency with previous investigations.

“It’s on me, it’s my fault, I should never have gone through with anything. There is a code of conduct, I was involved with putting it in place, I was certainly involved with living by it on a day-to-day basis and trying to drive our standards, so it is absolutely ridiculous that I’m the one that’s broken it.

“I think the way it was dealt with created a lot of uncertainty and rumours and counter-rumours.

“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.”

What now for Kirk?

He is determined to stay in the women’s game and is open to opportunities.

He added to the Mail: “I worked very hard to get to a position where I was full-time in football.

“I’ve stayed in the women’s game when I’ve had offers to go to the men’s game. I think I’ve played my part in trying to grow the game, the amount of players I’ve helped develop.

“It’s what I know. I’ve put so much energy into knowing the landscape, knowing the players worldwide. It would almost be like starting afresh in the men’s game. I just feel I need to try and stay in the women’s game because I’ve put so much into it. I don’t want to walk away from it.

“After 14 years of building my reputation, for it to be destroyed by one mistake, I feel would be harsh. 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.

“In the last five years in the WSL, outside the top four I’m the second most successful manager in terms of points per game. People will be worried about what’s happened, will it happen again? I’d like to think that in 14 years, one mistake is not something that’s going to be repeated.”

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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