English football first as Lydia takes charge of St Neots side

St Neots Town chairman Mike Kearns.

St Neots Town chairman Mike Kearns. - Credit: Archant

St Neots Town believe they have pulled off an English footballing first by placing a woman in charge of a senior men’s football team.

The club have unveiled Lydia Bedford as the new manager of their Under 21 team - St Neots Town Saints - who play in Division One of the United Counties League.

The 28 year-old holds the prestigious UEFA A Lincence and is employed as the Football Association’s Elite Women’s Coach Developer for the East.

She is a former manager of Barnet Ladies and also has involvement with the England Women’s Under 17 team - only recently returning from the European Championships.

Bedford is known to first-team manager David Batch and his assistant, Steve Eastaugh, who drove the appointment.

St Neots Town chairman Mike Kearns said: “As far as we are aware, this is the first time a woman has been given the opportunity to manage a senior men’s team. It is great for the club and we are delighted to have Lydia on board.

“The Saints side is coming a lot more under our banner this season as it forms a vital part of the pathway for our own young players to develop.

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“To have a coach with an UEFA A licence running a team at Step 6 level is another terrific coup.”

Helen Costa was widely reported as the first woman to manage a men’s team when appointed by French second division club Clermont Foot 63 in May 2014.

But she lasted just 49 days in the job before being replaced by another female, Corinne Diacre.

Shelley Kerr became the first lady to manage senior male side in Britain when taking over at Scottish side Stirling University last August.

Bedford is not the first lady to manage in the UCL although she is the first at senior level. Linda O’Reilly ran the reserve side of Northamptonshire club Irchester United around a decade ago.

Easthaugh, who is first-team assistant manager at St Neots, but also responsible for overseeing the pathway for young talent from the youth ranks, said: “Lydia becomes another talented coach in our support staff.

“She comes with very high recommendation from her peers at the FA and we look forward to working with her.’