Kirk regrets relationship that led to Leicester sacking

Willie Kirk
Willie Kirk was appointed as Leicester manager in 2022 [Getty Images]

Willie Kirk says he regrets his decision to have a relationship with a player that led to his dismissal as Leicester manager.

The 45-year-old was sacked by the Women's Super League club in March after an internal investigation.

Leicester said Kirk had breached the club's code of conduct to such an extent that his position was "untenable".

"I’ve made a mistake and I’ve been punished for my mistake. I take responsibility for that," he told the Daily Mail.

Kirk was initially suspended to "assist with an internal process" after a complaint was lodged with the club about an alleged current relationship between the Scot and a player.

He missed three games before being sacked after the conclusion of an investigation.

"I regret the timing of it and my decision to have a relationship with a current player," he said.

"It’s a line that we know, in elite level sport, should not be crossed."

Personal relationships between players and coaches in women's football have been criticised for potentially creating a power imbalance in a squad.

They are not illegal as long as no minors are involved, albeit they can breach codes of conduct.

Codes of conduct among players and managers are a condition of clubs getting a WSL licence, and every club must have a safeguarding officer in place.

Former Everton manager Kirk joined Leicester in the summer of 2022, initially as a director of football before succeeding Lydia Bedford as boss that November.

Last season he guided Leicester from the bottom of the WSL to safety.

They were seventh in the table this season when he was suspended and are now 10th with one game remaining.