Mead 'disgusted' by Thornaby FC decision to cut female teams



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A football club on Teeside has come under fire for axing its entire female section, with Lioness Beth Mead saying she is “disgusted” by the decision.

The controversial move by the committee of Teesside-based Thornaby FC has left more than 100 women and girls without a football club.

The women’s section, writing on Facebook, said the club’s U7s, U8s, U10s, U11s, U15s and women’s teams would be lost.

“This leaves over 100 girls without a club,” they said. “We are are all devastated to hear of the Thornaby FC decision and would like to thank the members of the club who voted to keep female football.”

PA Media added that six committee members who voted to withdraw their football club’s female section have now stepped down.

Mead, who grew up near Whitby in North Yorkshire, said the girls deserved better.

“Disgusted to see this decision,” the England and Arsenal forward wrote on X. “The women’s game is on the up but we still have committees making these horrible decisions.

“It’s not good enough, these young girls deserve better. I’d love to send the team a signed England shirt to keep them inspired.”

She added: “If I can help with anything do reach out, us women need to stick together.”

Eleven-time Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson called the move “so sad”, while Spurs and Lionesses player Bethany England added: “This should not be happening.”

The Football Association was “very disappointed” and said its local branch, the North Riding County FA, was in contact with the club.

Maz Pacheco, a defender for Women’s Super League club Aston Villa, also wrote on X: “This has blown my mind… How can you just remove a whole women’s and girls section of your club???”

Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen expressed “outrage” at the decision, which he attributed to a “1970s mindset”.

“As we head into a summer of Euros, we should be trying to expand the game, not put barriers up,” he said in a statement posted on X.

“If my daughter wants to play football when she gets older I expect her to be treated the same and have the same opportunities as the boys her age.”

Mr Houchen added he would be contacting the club to tell them “this terrible decision needs reversing immediately”.

‘Girls won trophy on day team axed’

Nikki Lucas, whose daughter Lily captains the club’s U15s team, said they had just won a tournament when they heard the news.

She told Sky News: “We were all absolutely devastated, shocked and really deflated. The girls had spent the whole day at a tournament in Chester-le-Street where they absolutely smashed it, lifted a trophy and then came home to this news.”

Mrs Lucas, who lives in Middlesbrough, said parents held fundraising events for the girls’ teams throughout the season to cover costs.

Young players would be heartened by the support the girls’ and women’s teams have received since the news broke, she added.

The U15s finished runners up in their league, won two cups and have been invited to represent Teesside in a national tournament this summer.

Thornaby Women manager Abbey Lyle, who led the senior team to a third-placed finish in their first season, said her players were “absolutely floored”.

Lyle told PA Media: “We narrowly missed promotion and that’s in our first season. It’s nothing to do with our positioning, it’s more to do with gender because there’s no other reason for it.

“We’re all friends at the women. A lot of them do it for mental health, we’ve got firewomen, paramedics, policewomen, they do it to get away from life.

“They come and see their friends, have a laugh, play sport. It’s affected everyone differently and we’ve had to approach it differently to every age group I suppose.”

Thornaby have also received an outpouring of support from other grassroots clubs on social media and Lyle admitted the response had been “amazing”.

Chairman outvoted

The club’s chairman Garry Morris also criticised the decision.

“In light of the recent actions taken by the board of Thornaby FC of which I am chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify my thoughts at an extremely difficult time for the club and more importantly, the female players affected by these actions,” he wrote on Facebook.

“The decision to withdraw support for the women’s team is one that I do not agree with, and along with another member of the committee, voted against it at yesterday’s emergency meeting.

“I have made my feelings known to the board, have asked them to reconsider their decision, and also to consider their positions on the board as patrons and trustees of the football club.”

He added: “We are empowered by the fans of the club to make the right decisions for the future of the club, and all those who show their unwavering support to both the male and female teams of all age groups deserve better.

“I firmly believe this decision made yesterday does not do that, and will be making this clear to the remaining members of the board.”

As of Monday evening, Thornaby FC’s official X account – formerly known as Twitter – appeared to have been deleted.



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