Another day, another former Football League giant relegated to League One.
It’s a worrying and predictable trend that we are seeing more and more in recent times, and Charlton Athletic’s demise this season has been ground-breaking.
They’ve arguably been the Aston Villa of the Championship, getting through managers like it’s going out of fashion, while dealing with off-the-field troubles that have plagued them for months.
But finally their exit from the second division was confirmed on Tuesday evening after they could only manage a 0-0 draw against already relegated Bolton Wanderers – another fallen Prem side. It was a pitiful game and showed in large parts why both teams will be travelling to places such as Fleetwood and Scunthorpe next season rather than remaining in the Championship.
Charlton have been in the bottom three since Christmas and have never looked like escaping. Whilst they’ve been poor on the pitch, it’s been the off-field troubles that have fatally damaged their season.
Fans have staged huge acts of dissent because they are unhappy with the running of the club, with flash protests, in-ground demos and mock funerals all being staged in an attempt to convince owner Roland Dunchatelet to sell the club. Fans have even accused him of ‘wanting the club to fail’, to which the controversial owner replied: “Whom would they expect the club to be sold to? How long would a sales process take? Is it easier to sell when the club is in League One rather than the Championship?”
In recent weeks fans have been throwing tennis balls on the pitch to disrupt proceedings, and the anger levels look set to spill over again in the coming weeks.
Beleaguered manager Jose Riga is back in the hot-seat after taking over in January. Guy Luzon and Karel Fraeye didn’t last long and fans began to quickly grow frustrated. Fan groups Spell it out and Voice of the Valley came together to try and organise protests, and using social media the word quickly spread. The CARD group was subsequently formed (Coalition against Roland Duchatelet) with the aim of eventually forcing him out of the club.
The club were lambasted once again when they issued a statement to fans via their website following demonstrations at home matches. They pleaded with supporters to stop and were widely ridiculed by the footballing community as they attempted to halt demonstrations.
Yet the Charlton faithful have had every right to protest and to be stopped is ultimately putting an end to the free speech we all have when it comes to supporting our beloved clubs.
It’s almost ironic that the Addicks began the campaign with a six game unbeaten streak. And as the players trudged off the field at the Macron Stadium on Tuesday night, you could tell what the boos really saying.