Chelsea Ditch ‘Old Fashioned’ Ladies Tag.

Change was in the air this week in Fulham as the Women’s Super League champions made the decision to change their name and, from now on, won’t be known anymore as the Chelsea Ladies. The club has opted to remove the word ‘Ladies’ from their title and have, instead, gone for ‘Women’ to take its place.

Chelsea FC Women are following on from their rivals Arsenal Women Football Club, who decided to also amend their name back in July 2017. Since Chelsea’s decision to drop the ladies tag, it now means that there are only nine teams left in the WSL that still have the word ‘Ladies’ in their name – of which, five are in the top flight.

Reasons for the name change

It will surely be just a matter of time before all of the teams in the league ditch the ladies tag for good. Chelsea FC Women shot-stopper Carly Telford was speaking about the changes this week and said, when she thinks about ladies, she “thinks about afternoon tea somewhere”. Telford makes a passionate point and one that most people can agree with. The connotations attached to the Ladies title in football seems to undermine the progress the women’s game has made and also doesn’t shine enough light on what a strong league the WSL has turned into.

Chelsea huddle

One of the official reasons the club gave that led to the change was a need to reflect “a modern view on language and equality”. It seems fitting that Chelsea Women would do that now after having enjoyed a season where they rewrote the history books. Winning the league and FA Cup had made this women’s outfit in South West London one of the finest in the continent and that was proved again after reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

Chelsea will get another crack at conquering Europe next season, as will Manchester City, after they both qualified for the 2018/2019 Champions League. It has been a remarkable season for Chelsea Women and that is thanks, in large part, to their star performer Fran Kirby.

Fran Kirby’s prolific season

The English forward hasn’t looked back since signing for Chelsea and has to be considered one of the most prolific strikers in the women’s game at the moment.

Kirby recently won the inaugural Football Writers’ Women’s Footballer of the Year award in late April. It’s been quite the month for Kirby as far as accolades go, with victory in the SSE Women’s FA Cup at Wembley in early May following that. This type of form will be pleasing England women’s manager Phil Neville and he will be watching Kirby closely over the next year with the Fifa Women’s World Cup in France only 12 months away.

Fran Kirby

The Three Lionesses are at better odds (11/1) to triumph in France than their male counterparts are to win in Russia. As of the 26th of May 2018, Betway has England at 16/1 to win the men’s World Cup this summer. Phil Neville was never able to win the World Cup whilst playing for England so he will be hoping that the Three Lionesses are able to give the nation the silverware they crave next year.

The significance of a name change

The women’s game in England is in terrific shape and is currently going from strength to strength with the talent pool becoming bigger by the day. Clubs like Chelsea Women are taking the game into the 21st century and turning it into a very marketable product. Nike has long been the biggest sponsor of women’s football and, with the continued growth of the game, bigger commercial deals are likely to take place over the next few seasons.

Subtle amendments like changing the name of a team can go a long way to putting women’s football on the map by commanding more respect. What Chelsea Women have done, like many others have as well, is begin to change the narrative on women’s football by having it recognised more as an elite sport that provides thrilling entertainment.

It really is an exhilarating time to be part of the women’s game as it continues to take bold step after bold step into the future. Chelsea Women can hold their heads up high after having enjoyed a season that did wonders for the WSL both on and off the pitch.

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