CAST recognises and applauds the extremely positive steps that have been taken under Thomas's ownership of the women’s team, including bringing it into common ownership with the men’s club and turning professional ahead of the 2021/22 season. However, we are dismayed at the news that he is in the process of changing the name of the Charlton Women's team to Charlton Ladies. We take the view that this decision does harm to the public perception of both Charlton Athletic and women’s football more generally and we have conveyed our disappointment to Thomas directly.
A number of Charlton fans have expressed themselves puzzled about why there should be opposition to the use of the term "Ladies" and others have suggested that it is a fuss about nothing. Some have argued that "Lady" is a complimentary term and that they can't understand why it wouldn't be welcomed.
This is why we are opposed to the name change:
- We understand that it is the wish of our current women's team and the team hierarchy to continue to play as Charlton Women. In these circumstances a change can only damage morale.
- The term "ladylike" is used to describe behaviour that is considered appropriate for women, with connotations of politeness, deference and having lunch. It might be appropriate in some contexts but it is broadly patronising. It isn't associated with rolling up sleeves and working or being taken seriously in a professional environment. And it certainly doesn't include kicking a muddy football about.
- Understanding of the nuance of the term "Ladies" has been reflected in the changes in women's football over the last two decades. Our top teams compete in the Women's Super League. Our team is in the Women's Championship. There is a Women's World Cup and Women's Olympic football. We have an England Women's national team. The consistent use of the word "Women" reflects the progress that has been made in recent years towards a more inclusive and modern approach to women’s football. Changing the name of our team from Women to Ladies at this point in time will inevitably be viewed as a contrarian statement in opposition to such progress.
- The change would seem to be at odds with the club’s EDI strategy, where using appropriate terminology matters. It will cause disunity among Charlton supporters and will provoke a negative backlash with adverse publicity for the club. It will be an unhelpful distraction.
We understand that the decision has been taken for branding reasons rather than from any preference for the term "Ladies". The idea of a name change stems from a wish to emphasise the profound changes that Thomas Sandgaard's ownership has brought to the Charlton Women's set-up. We understand that but we respectfully suggest that it must be possible to find more positive and inclusive ways of making this point. We fear that reversion to the outdated term "Ladies" will provoke adverse reaction from players, supporters, the media, sponsors and the wider Women's game.
We urge Thomas Sandgaard to leave the name as it is.
At the CAST AGM in November members passed a resolution that the definition of the word "club" in the CAST constitution be amended to read: " Charlton Athletic Football Company Ltd and Charlton Athletic Womens Football Club Limited"