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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 June 2007, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Charlton shut down women's team
Exclusive by Tony Leighton

Charlton Athletic logo
Charlton Athletic are to announce the shock closure of their women's team.

The club's entire women's section - senior teams, academy and centre of excellence - are to be scrapped.

The decision is part of drastic cost-cutting measures being carried out following the club's relegation from the men's Premier League last season.

Women's team manager Keith Boanas confirmed to BBC Sport: "All the staff involved in the women's set-up have had their employment terminated."

An official club statement is to be made next week but on Friday, Charlton chief executive Peter Varney released a statement outlining a "significant level of cuts" at The Valley.

Boanas was at the helm from the time Charlton took the hugely successful Croydon women's team under their wing in 2000.

He said: "I'm devastated for the players and the many young girls who have had their dreams and aspirations shattered. I've been phoning round the players and some of them have been in tears."

Like Croydon, who in the 1990s twice achieved the Premier League and FA Cup Double, Charlton have provided the toughest opposition to all-conquering Arsenal.

Captain and England defender Casey Stoney, angry at the closure of the women's section, said: "I'm disgusted with the club - the men get relegated and we get punished.

"The club's only trophies in recent years have been won by the women's team - and in the last four seasons we were the only side apart from Arsenal to win major honours.

"Seven weeks ago we played in front of a record crowd at the FA Cup final - that's now our last match and I'm totally gutted for everyone involved on the women's side.

"I just hope that what has happened to us doesn't reverberate around the women's game - otherwise it will be in serious trouble."

There will be serious repercussions from Charlton's demise, including the reduction from 12 teams to an unwieldy 11 in next season's top flight.

Peter Hough, chairman of the FA Women's Premier League, confirmed: "The League's AGM has been held and, once that has gone, no adjustments can be made.

"It's a very sad day for women's football. We can do without losing any clubs, let alone one at the highest level, and this is terribly disappointing for the image of the game."



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