Gillingham ditch Women's team
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally | Photo by Paul Gilham - Getty Images

Gillingham have stopped operating their Women's team with immediate effect.

The side had been part of Gillingham Football Club since 2014, following a period as an independent outfit after being founded in 1995, but the club have announced that, once again, the team will have to be independent from Gillingham F.C. in order to continue competing.

The move comes after other girls teams were also cut.

The news

With money limited at the club because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gills have been cutting costs, and the women's team have suffered as a result.

A club statement issued last week read:

“In line with other measures taken, or in the process of being taken due to current circumstances, and in regards to the restructuring of the football club, it is with great regret we have decided to no longer operate our senior ladies football team with immediate effect, and for the foreseeable future.

“[We] would like to thank the ladies’, management and staff for their hard work and efforts over the past few years and wish them well for the future.”

Moving forward

In order to survive, the team will have to continue independently. The latest manager of the team, John Oatham, has set out to make sure that happens, although there is still a long way to go.

The club are, however, be set to retain the league status of Gillingham Ladies.

A statement read: “Josh Oatham has finalised an agreement that will see Gillingham Ladies Football Club become an independent entity, whilst maintaining their current status in the league.

“The ladies team are currently liaising with the league with regards to a name change, with the required documentation submitted. The new set up would be named ‘Gillingham Women’s Football Club’.

“The new women’s team would like to state their thanks to Gillingham Football Club and their executive management team for their foresight and cooperation in implementing a new future for them.”

Oatham said “Due to the current economic uncertainty, it was vital for the long-term set up of the ladies’ team that we were able to take this opportunity to continue the team’s current status. This now allows us to commit resources to the team that will help secure the club’s position in the FA Women’s National League Southern Premier Division.

“This is a hugely exciting time for everybody involved with the ladies’ setup, and I believe the club is in safe hands with our strategy to ensure a competitive sustainable future."

Reaction

The decision has caused plenty of debate on Twitter, with many arguing the team should have been protected in the current climate.

West Ham United captain Gilly Flaherty said the club should be “ashamed”, whilst Maidstone United skipper Nikki Waterman said “I thought this was a joke at first.”

Ellie Jeffkins, who played for the ladies team, tweeted "onwards and upwards". Meanwhile, captain Vicky Ashton-Jones reacted to the news of the new team by saying “start of a new chapter – can’t wait to get started”.

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