FROM Peterlee to Weymouth, from Beth Mead to Tanni Grey-Thompson, football clubs and players and indeed anyone interested in sport have united to condemn the decision by Thornaby FC to wipe out its entire female section.

Even the club’s own chairman has condemned the move.

The reasons behind the decision are unclear because the board members who voted for it have failed to explain their course of action, although a lack of volunteers is believed to be one.

It is true that many sports clubs, and community groups, rely on dedicated and tiny bands of volunteers to survive, and those bands are nearly always very thinly stretched.

But to effectively ban one sex from playing, leaving more than 100 girls and women with no teams, represents a thought process akin to the Football Association in 1921 when it ordered that no woman should play on a male professional ground – a ban that lasted until 1971.

It is wrong. It is discriminatory. It is old hat.

And Thornaby’s women seem to have been doing so well, winning a title only last weekend.

Not only has the club united the sport, the community and local politicians against it, but it has harmed its own future: grassroots sports clubs will struggle to survive if they prevent 50 per cent of the population from joining in.

Women and girls have as much right as men and boys to play football and to enjoy the benefits of an active and social lifestyle that goes with it. Indeed, they should be encouraged to get involved – and, in many cases, they are being inspired by successful Lionesses like Beth Mead.

Six members of Thornaby’s board have resigned. We hope the club is able to rebuild so that it can offer grassroots footballing facilities for everyone, irrespective of their sex, and so again play a vital role in its community.