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Former Thornaby chief executive says decision to close women’s section was ‘complex’

Thornaby FC's committee decided to cut all of their women's and girls teams from U7s up to the senior squad; there has been widespread criticism across social media, including from Beth Mead, Bethany England and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson

A general view of Nike Flight summer match balls ahead of the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London. Picture date: Saturday February 24, 2024.

The former chief executive of Thornaby has spoken out to address “misconceptions” over the closure of the club’s women’s section.

Trevor Wing was one of six people who resigned from the Teesside club's nine-strong committee on Monday after voting in favour of shutting down the women's team, a decision which prompted widespread criticism including from England forward Beth Mead.

Wing said the decision had been "portrayed as a sweeping and callous move" but the reality was far more complex.

Wing disputed a social media post from Thornaby FC's women's section which said the entire women's and girls' section had been removed, saying the committee had not voted to close down the women's junior teams, which he said were "self-sufficient" and could have continued.

He added that the decision to shut down the senior women's team "was not taken lightly" but that it had become evident that running a men's and a women's team was "financially unsustainable".

"I feel it is important to clarify the situation and address some misconceptions," Wing said in a statement.

"The decision to discontinue the women's first team and junior teams has been portrayed as a sweeping and callous move, but the reality is more complex. Financial constraints have placed significant pressure on our club.

"After extensive discussions and deliberation with all stakeholders, it became evident that maintaining both the men's and women's first teams was financially unsustainable.

"Given the men's team has been an established part of Thornaby FC since 2000, the difficult decision was made to prioritise its continuity.

"It is important to note that the women's junior teams have historically operated independently, using the Thornaby FC name and badge while playing at various other venues.

"These teams were self-sufficient and their operation could have continued under the same model.

"It should be recognised that Thornaby FC has not had male junior teams for several years, further highlighting the financial limitations we face.

"My commitment to women's football spans over five decades including 16 years of volunteer service at Thornaby FC and 15 years with the North Riding County FA.

"I have actively promoted women's football, serving as a coach (and) secretary for Middlesbrough Ladies and as a representative on the FA's Women's Committee it is deeply disappointing to be mischaracterised as someone against women's football by those who do not fully understand my history or the complete context of our decision.

"The decision was not taken lightly, and it was made with the club's long-term stability in mind. I remain dedicated to supporting and promoting women's football and hope that the community will continue to support Thornaby FC through these challenging times."

The women's team had been playing in the North East Regional Women's Football League - tier six of the football pyramid.

Arsenal and England striker Mead, who was born in nearby Whitby, described it as a "horrible" decision.

The Labour candidate for Middlesbrough and Thornaby East, Andy McDonald, said on Monday that the remaining committee members wanted to retain a female team and "build a new diverse and wide-ranging board alongside representatives from the women's team".

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

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