Chelsea football club change name to 'women' as players deem 'ladies' old fashioned

Olivia Rudgard
Chelsea Ladies - now Chelsea Football Club Women - celebrate winning the Women's Super League earlier this month  - Chelsea FC

Women footballers should not be called "ladies", Chelsea football club has said as it announced a change to a less "old fashioned" word.

The women's club has changed its name from Chelsea Ladies to Chelsea Football Club Women to reflect "a modern view on language and equality". 

Goalkeeper Carly Telford, who also plays for England, told the Daily Telegraph that "ladies" was outdated and the change would help them team attain equal prominence with the men's team. 

"When I think of 'ladies' I do think of afternoon tea somewhere," she said. 

"You wouldn't call it 'Chelsea gentlemen', so why would you call us ladies?

"If I was to describe myself as a 'strong independent lady' it probably wouldn't have as much punch as if I described myself as a 'strong independent woman'. 

"There are all those connotations of what a lady stands for as opposed to what a woman stands for. I think it will make people sit up, maybe take more notice."

The club is also set to stop calling the men's team the "first" team to put the female players on greater parity with their male counterparts. 

Chelsea FC Women manager, Emma Hayes, said: "This name change demonstrates the club’s desire to put women’s football at the front and centre of everything we do.

"Chelsea’s commitment to the women’s game is unwavering and this decision is something I fully support."

The move follows a similar decision made by rival team Arsenal last year, who became Arsenal Women, with the "women" part only used when necessary for clarity.

Nine teams in the Women's Super League, the highest women's league in England, now have "ladies" in their names, while seven have "women". 

Defender Anita Amma Ankyewah Asante. Chelsea Ladies F.C. become Chelsea F.C. Women while also celebrating their double winning season

Other teams such as Brighton & Hove Albion do not have either word in their official name, while teams such as the London Bees, Millwall Lionesses and Doncaster Rovers Belles have animals or other types of group name.

Ms Telford predicted that more teams would soon follow suit. "It was a matter of time before it happened - I think you'll see more and more clubs on board with it," she said. 

Deborah Cameron, professor of language and communication at the University of Oxford, said "ladies" was "old-fashioned, it's a bit snobbish and a bit patronising". 

"Some people might regret that Chelsea is abandoning a long and honourable tradition by switching to 'women', but I think it's a sign that we've got beyond the attitudes 'ladies' signified.

"It's emphasising the parallels rather than the differences between the men's and the women's game, acknowledging what we can all see on TV now, that the women are also highly skilled, very tough and very physical.

"'Lady' isn't the best word to capture that. I'm betting other clubs will follow Chelsea's example, and I'll welcome it if they do," she said.