Charlton Women to rebrand as 'Charlton Ladies' in shock move labelled 'insulting' by players

·3-min read
The Charlton Athletic squad huddle prior to the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup match between Charlton Athletic and Coventry United at Oakwood VCD on November 17, 2021 in Crayford, England. - GETTY IMAGES
The Charlton Athletic squad huddle prior to the FA Women's Continental Tyres League Cup match between Charlton Athletic and Coventry United at Oakwood VCD on November 17, 2021 in Crayford, England. - GETTY IMAGES

Charlton Women are set to rebrand as ‘Charlton Ladies’ in a shock decision that its players have labelled “insulting”.

The move to drop the moniker ‘women’ in favour of ‘ladies’ is understood to have been driven by Charlton’s owner, Thomas Sandgaard, the Danish-American businessman who agreed to a historic takeover of the women’s side in February this year.

A senior source at the club said the decision has sparked outrage among players, who branded the move “insulting” and “derogatory” in a club meeting with Sandgaard last Friday.

Karen Hills, who took over the championship side earlier this year and enjoyed a successful playing career with the Addicks between 2001 and 2007, is also said to be staunchly opposed to the idea.

Such are the players’ frustrations that they have reportedly drafted a letter to the Professional Footballers’ Association in a last-ditch attempt to block the name change, although Charlton have already listed the women’s team as the ‘Ladies’ Team’ on its official club website.

There have been concerted efforts by sports clubs across football and rugby in recent years to modernise their language and drop the term ‘ladies’ to reflect the growing parity within sport.

Manchester City started the trend in 2014 when they rebranded as ‘women’ and scores of football clubs followed suit. All teams in the women’s top-flight now go by ‘women’ although Blackburn, Coventry and Sunderland are the three clubs in the semi-professional Women’s Championship that still use the term ‘ladies’.

The decision to use 'ladies' - which is largely considered an outdated term within women's sport - would appear at odds with Charlton given their rich history in the women's game.

A powerhouse of women's domestic football in the early 2000s, the club made three FA Cup final appearances in four seasons, winning the competition in 2005. Former Manchester United manager Casey Stoney, Kerry Davies and Eniola Aluko are among a number of high-profile names who once played for the club, which often provided the toughest opposition to heavyweights Arsenal.

Eniola Aluko of Charlton celebrates winning player of the match and winning the Women's FA Cup Final match between Charlton and Everton at Upton Park on May 2, 2005 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES
Eniola Aluko of Charlton celebrates winning player of the match and winning the Women's FA Cup Final match between Charlton and Everton at Upton Park on May 2, 2005 in London, England. - GETTY IMAGES

But the club’s entire women’s section was controversially disbanded as part of a series of cost-cutting measures following Charlton’s relegation from the Premier League in 2007. The move, which was widely condemned, prompted a mass exodus of players and a slow period of rebuilding started.

The women’s side was kept afloat initially by Charlton Athletic Community Trust and later by local businessman Stephen King. It operated independently from the men’s arm of the club for more than a decade until last February, when Sandgaard agreed to bring the sides under the same ownership.

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