Lucy Clark makes history as first trans manager in top five divisions of English women's football

The former referee has been named as the new manager of her childhood club Sutton United.

Lucy Clark playing football with TRUK United. She is photographed from the waist up, wearing a blue and pink football kit.
Image: @lucyclarkref via X (photo by @SimonRPhoto)

On January 24, Lucy Clark was announced as the new manager of Sutton United. With the appointment, the former referee makes history as the first trans woman to manage a team in any of the top five divisions of English women’s football.

Clark joins Sutton United as they are currently battling relegation from the London and South East Regional League. Despite the challenging position, the role is still “a dream come true” for the manager as she is returning to her childhood club.

“Back in the 1980s playing computer games, I would edit the teams to be Sutton United,” she explained.

The 51-year-old previously made history as football’s first trans referee, however, she always set her sights on returning to management, having coached her first team aged just 16.

“The plan was just to do some refereeing to have a look at players before I got back into managing, but obviously the refereeing went well and I had some fabulous times,” she told BBC Sport.

“And I think that has helped, I have refereed in the women’s game for many years so I have seen many clubs and how they do things, now I am taking this position on at Sutton.”


Clark also set up TRUK United FC, a trans-inclusive amateur football team. She credits the club with giving her “the bug of being a manager again,” and making her think “it was time” to return.

“When the Sutton job came up I took a week to think, but I thought, this is just perfect. I put my application in, and thankfully I have been successful,” she said.

While Clark’s appointment comes at a time when transgender people are facing increasing barriers to participation in sport, she says that she has largely received messages of support and congratulations.


Regarding negative reactions and backlash, the Sutton manager commented, “There is nothing anyone can say to me that I haven’t heard or seen already from when I came out. There’s already been a few of the Twitter warriors who have said their piece, I let them crack on. I’ve been known as the trans referee, and that’s gone fine.

“Sometimes the words can get to you, but I’m thick skinned – I hit the block button and get on with it,” she continued. 

“I’m prepared to deal with (abuse) should it happen, so we crack on. I’m not going to stop doing something I love because of who I am.”

Sutton United played their first game under Lucy Clark on Sunday, January 28, losing 3-1 at home to league leaders Fulham. Sutton are now ninth in the table, just six points above the two teams in the relegation zone.


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