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Monday, June 25, 2007

A "Men Only" Club....

Charity/Community Shield: Winners 2004/05; joint winners 2000/01; runners-up 2005/06
Premier League, National Division: Runners-up 2003/04, 2004/05
FA Cup: Winners 2005; runners-up 2003, 2004
Premier League Cup: Winners 2006, 2004; runners-up 2005
London Cup: Winners 2006, 2005, 2003
Kent County Cup: Winners 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001; runners up 2005
Current England internationals: Eniola Aluko, Ann-Marie Heatherson, Jo Fletcher, Josanne Potter, Sarah Snare, Casey Stoney.
England U21 internationals: Faye Cardin, Natasha Hughes, Michelle Hickmott, Katie Holtham.

In just 7 years that's the number of honours that the Charlton Ladies team have won since we took over Croydon Ladies in 2000 and in the past season they finished third in their own Premier League just missing out on going into Europe. OK, not an improvement really as they finished 2nd in the two previous years but certainly not relegation form either.

It's therefore a bit of a shock to everyone that the Charlton Management have decided to close what's known on the official website as the Women's Team. As yet there's no official word on the closure and in another display of mismanagement we have to read about it in the papers and on other peoples websites. Perhaps they think that nobody cares, and its obvious that they're mistaken there, but its clearly wrong that we have to read about on the bbc before the club sees fit to inform us.

We all knew that the reduced operating budget would affect many areas of the club and that priority would be given to those areas that would most benefit Pardew's work to get us back to up. So we're not surprised to see a despondent Peter Varney on the CAFC site announcing "Following the club's relegation to the Football League Championship, revised budgets have been implemented that have resulted in a significant level of cuts in all areas of the club's operations. Regrettably, with effect from today, several job functions have been made redundant. "

But not for the first time this season the management has once again come under fire. Seems that most people, even though they've never seen the Ladies play, see the decision as near-sighted and another example of continued mis-management. Turns out the Ladies have won more things in 7 years than the men have in 100. And having spent 7 years creating a team and its environment with its own Womens' Academy and Centre of Excellence its clearly bad business sense that having created it it all has to be thrown away because of the senior teams relegation.

Relegation for the Addicks ( the boys, that is ) was a yearly threat for a small club but to build up a parallel Womens section that even has its own honours section on its website which it turns out is totally dependent on the success of the real Addicks is quite obviously criminal. Its one thing to build up the administration of the club to cope with the demands of premiership football with its attendant staffing levels but quite another to create a footballing section for women that has to be tossed aside when the "core business" suffers a loss in income.

All the talk of work in the community and all the effort that has been spent in creating a family club has obviously been damaged by this decision as can be judged by the various forums everywhere. Finance is one thing but image these days is of vital importance too. We're not just selling football here. In so many areas its been acknowledged that we have to sell ourselves as a club, a name. And with this decision that name has, regretably, been tarnished. Short-sighted and a trifle sexist, that's what it's been called.

And how is it that the likes of Doncaster, Cardiff and recently liquidated Leeds United can run a Womens team and we cannot. We played in Spain a few weeks ago and narrowly lost to the best Spanish side Espanol with another close game against Barcelona for gods sake. Whenever did the real addicks give Barcelona a difficult game? Back in the 50's maybe...


Bob Miller said...

Well said and bang-on. The board is seemingly not looking beyond their collective noses. Women's team-sport in general is rapidly growing and while not necessarily being the case in Britain, women's football(soccer)is very popular in other European countries and most certainly on this side of the Atlantic. When the USA and Canada meet it's big crowds, lots of press and actually some pretty decent football. You have to see Canada's very talented Christine Sinclair unleash one of her rocket strikes from 30 yards out to appreciate what can emanate from the "girls."

Anonymous said...

I don't normally comment on blogs, but I feel incensed by this decision and completely agree with your comments. This is a very mean and short-sighted decision. The women's team have been a source of pride, kept CAFC's profile high and attracted new fans to the club. They've also been entertaining to watch. Potentially very damaging to our long-term interests. Let's hope it's not too late to reverse this poor, poor decision.

John (East Stand)

Ken Jennings said...

If what has been reported is accurate, its a mind boggler all right.

Given all the aggro associated with the takeover of the Croydon Ladies and the clubs firm commitment to develop the womens' side of things,(plus the success you have ably illustrated) this decision, after this short time once again opens the club management to ridicule. (Not the first time this past year, by any means).

But I have to believe they are well meaning people and if the club is in such a dire state financially, then they have to do what they see is necessary.

It just seems that in some instances,the blinkers are on and there's no realisation that there's a great big world market out here.