Thornaby FC: Ex-chief executive Trevor Wing speaks out after club axes 'entire female section'

Thornaby FC and former chief executive Trevor Wing
-Credit: (Image: UGC)


The former chief executive of Thornaby FC has spoken out after the club announced it would be axing its entire women and girls’ teams.

Trevor Wing has now released a statement “to clarify the situation and address some misconceptions” after the Teesdale Park club came under fire for its decision. Mr Wing, along with five other board members, resigned on Monday, committee member Phillip Genery confirmed to Teesside Live.

In his letter, Mr Wing stated that the vote to remove “the entire female section” from the Acklam Road club leaving "over 100 girls” without a team” was “portrayed as a sweeping and callous move”. However, he stated that it was “more complex”, citing “financial constraints” on the club.

The former chief executive outlined that the Thornaby men’s team was established in 2000 so “the difficult decision was made to prioritise its continuity”. Mr Wing added that Thornaby FC does not have any boys junior teams.

Mr Wing also spoke of his commitment to women’s football and stated that he felt he had been “mischaracterised”.

Trevor Wing’s letter in full

“I am writing to address the recent coverage and public reaction concerning Thornaby Football Club’s decision to cut its girls' and women’s teams. As the former Chief Executive of Thornaby Football Club, I feel it is important to clarify the situation and address some misconceptions.

"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.

Thornaby FC
Thornaby FC -Credit:Ruby Hodgman

"It is important to note that the girl’s junior teams have historically operated independently, using the Thornaby FC name and badge only, while playing at various other venues. At no point during their tenure did any of the girl’s junior teams play or train at Teesdale Park. These teams were self-sufficient, and their operation could have continued under the same model. The committee’s decision should not have affected how the girls’ teams are run.

"Additionally, it should be recognised that Thornaby FC has not had boys 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 Football Club and 15 years with the North Riding CFA.

"Throughout my career, I have actively promoted women's football, serving as a coach, 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.

"This 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."

Announcement

Thornaby FC’s decision to remove the Under 7, Under 8, Under 10, Under 11, Under 15 and Women's teams was decided at an "emergency meeting" which “discussed the whole future of the club including the events over the last 12 months”. The club said its future was in doubt, citing “very low” staffing levels, and progressing without the women was the only way to continue. The decision thrust the club into the spotlight and being criticized by sportswomen and figureheads.

The news first broke with a post on Thornaby FC Women's Facebook page stating: "AND THAT'S WRAP... Yesterday we found out that a majority on the Thornaby FC committee, led by Trevor Wing, voted to remove the entire female section from the club.

"This leaves over 100 girls without a club. We would like to thank all of our Coaches, Volunteers, Players, Supporters and Sponsors for their dedication over the last 3 years, you are all AMAZING. We are are all devastated to hear of the Thornaby FC decision and would like to thank the members of the club who voted to keep female football."

At the time, chairman of the club Garry Morris said the decision to withdraw support for the women’s team is one he did not agree with. In a statement, Mr Morris said: "In light of the recent actions taken by the board of Thornaby FC of which I am chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify my thoughts at an extremely difficult time for the club and more importantly, the female players effected by these actions.

"The decision to withdraw support for the women’s team is one that I do not agree with, and along with another member of the committee, voted against it at yesterday’s emergency meeting. I have made my feelings known to the board, have asked them to reconsider their decision, and also 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.”

England footballer Beth Mead MBE offered her support to the club, whilst Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has stated that the “terrible decision needs reversing immediately ”.

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