In a move that took most of the women’s football world by surprise, this afternoon Charlton Athletic have announced the appointment of Karen Hills as Head Coach of the first-team. Hills returns to a club which she played for between 2001 and 2007.
This is a bold move by the club’s new owner, Thomas Sandgaard. In September Danish-American businessman, Sandgaard, completed the acquisition of Charlton Athletic men’s club. At the beginning of February Sandgaard announced that he was to take ownership of the women’s team also. The women’s team had been a separate organisation from the men’s team for more than a decade and the takeover brings the two clubs under the same ownership for the first time since 2007.
Hills playerd a key role in the growth of Tottenham Hotspur’s women’s team, managing the club between 2009 and 2020. During that period Hills presided over a series of promotions as the club moved from a completely amateur side to a full-time professional outfit playing in the English football’s top tier. Something that Sandgaard will be hoping that she can do with the Addicks as they prepare to go full time from July.
Sandgaard told the club’s official website, “I am delighted we have been able to appoint someone of Karen’s experience and pedigree. She has a great history with our club from her playing days and managed the transition to full-time at Tottenham Hotspur excellently. Our ambition is for Charlton to be challenging in that top tier of the FA Women’s Super League and I am looking forward to watching the team grow.”
Hills explained she was delighted to get the opportunity to Charlton. She said: “I am looking forward to adding my experience and knowledge to what is already a great staff and a fantastic group of players here are the group. We are looking to build something special with Charlton and I can’t wait to get started.”
Sandgaard added: “Charlton were one of the leading clubs in football in Karen’s playing days and that is where we want to get back to. Going full-time and the appointment of Karen are two real statements of intent as we look to move the team forwards.”
While the club had looked in danger of relegation, the now former head-coach Riteesh Mishra had guided the side off the bottom of the Women’s Championship into ninth place, following an impressive draw against Liverpool and a vital 2-0 victory against Coventry United. Earning himself the manager of the month award for February.
It remains to be seen how Mishra fits into all of this. The club suggests that he remains in place and Hills will meet the first team on Tuesday evening ahead of her first training session with the club.
It might not be the end for Mishra as Hills has shown that she can build a great working relationship with her team of coaches, as demonstrated by her great relationship with former Spurs colleague, Juan Carlos Amorós. When the pair left their roles at Spurs there was a huge outpouring of support and love from former players. Hills will be looking to immediately build a similar bond with her new set of players.
The future looks bright for the club and Hills will kick off her reign at the club with a league game against Crystal Palace on March 25th.