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Criticism after football club drops women's team

Thornaby FC Women in front of a goal
Thornaby FC Women's manager said it cannot return to the club to host its presentation evening [Karen Rodman]

A football club has come under fire after it dropped its entire women's section.

Thornaby FC's committee announced on Sunday it had voted to continue without its female teams, leaving 100 players without a club.

First team manager Abbey Lyle said players have been "floored" by the decision, while England player Beth Mead said she was "disgusted".

The club's statement said its future was in doubt after a difficult year and progressing "without the women" was the only way to continue, but its chairman is among those who have condemned the decision.

Lioness Mead, who grew up near Whitby, North Yorkshire, was among those who have offered support.

"The women's game is on the up but we still have committees making these horrible decisions," she wrote on X, formally Twitter.

"It's not good enough, these women deserve better."

Beth Mead wearing a yellow vest during training
Lioness Beth Mead said she was "disgusted" by the decision [ Action Images/Reuters]

All of the club's female teams - from the under-7s up to its women's team - are affected by the decision, which was announced following an emergency meeting.

A statement from Thornaby FC, posted on Facebook, said the future of the club had been discussed following "events of the last 12 months" and highlighted "very low" staffing levels.

'Backlash warning'

Ms Lyle told the BBC there had been an outpouring of support for the women and girls following the announcement, with sponsorship and new clubs offered.

"Our main focus is trying to keep these teams together, we don't want to split them up," she said.

"It's been a tough few days and we did warn of the potential backlash."

She said the women's teams are self-sufficient and have sponsors, adding that any suggestion of the club's decision being financially motivated was a "cop out" on its behalf.

"We've got girls who have really progressed this season, we were looking forward to presentation night but now we don't have a venue to host it at as we're not allowed to go to the ground," she added.

'Deserve better'

Thornaby FC's chairman, Garry Morris, said he and another member of the committee had voted against the decision.

Mr Morris said he has asked the club to reconsider and to "consider their positions on the board as patrons and trustees of the football club".

"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," he added.

The BBC has attempted to contact the club's committee for further comment.

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