‘It has given us hope’ - Footballers want to form new team after dispute with former club

Former players of Thorpe St Andrews ladies team will now face a vote if they can form a women's team

Former players of Thorpe St Andrews ladies team will now face a vote if they can form a women's team at Mulbarton. Picture: Natasha Evans - Credit: Archant

A group of footballers who were facing not being able to play together again have been given fresh hope after a U-turn from their former club and Norfolk FA.

Thorpe St Andrews Ladies have been in dispute with the club and the local FA after 17 players said they would leave, only for 12 to be told they had signed on to the club because they expressed an interest to play on WhatsApp.

Tension had been building in the weeks prior after the introduction of a new team and the sacking of the team’s manager - leading to the players wishing to move together to start a team at Mulbarton.

An application was submitted to Norfolk FA on September 6, two weeks ahead of the new season, but was not put to a vote until October 2 with the league’s teams refusing the formation of the Mulbarton squad.

Concerns were raised the club would fold due to not enough players, as due to WhatsApp messages being taken as a form of consent, the 12 Thorpe St Andrew players would have to follow FA rules to be transferred, one every 28 days, to Mulbarton.

The squad had complained to the chief executive of Norfolk FA on September 19, which ruled consent via electronic means would be accepted.

Thorpe St Andrew has announced the players have been released to play for the club of their choice.

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It is not the end of the matter, with football teams set to vote next week for the second time to allow Mulbarton Belles’ formation.

Central midfielder Laura Hedtke said Thorpe’s decision to U-turn was the “first bit of good news” after it looked like their footballing family would have to go their separate ways,

The 29-year-old, from Hellesdon, said: “It has given us a bit of hope again. We are still at the mercy of other teams in the league, that’s the next big hurdle to get through. We have got to hope they reconsider.

“It would be amazing the thought we could all play football in the same team, we would be playing with our friends. That did not seem a possibility three or four days ago.”

In a statement Thorpe St Andrew Football Club said it regretted the situation had occurred.

A spokesman for the club said: “As far as the football club is concerned, the matter is now closed.

“The relevant players have been released from any connection they may have had with Thorpe St Andrew FC and, as they all know, they are free to play for any club of their choice.

“We have wished them well for their future in football.”