After the 6-0 thrashing at Hull City on Saturday, Charlton sit second from bottom in the Championship, with 20 points from 27 games. They are four points from safety, so it’s not over for the Addicks just yet, but their recent form is dreadful. No wins in six and four defeats sit amongst the underwhelming stats. It’s no surprise that they are in the relegation mire. League One awaits them, it would seem.
At points last year, the fans protested and with recent actions and more planned, the fans are clearly less than pleased with Belgian owner, Roland Duchatelet. According to the South London Press, the fans have formed a new group, CARD (Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet) that intends to bring an extra focus to their demands for Duchatelet to sell-up. Various unsettled supporter factions have joined under the flag of CARD to initiate short and medium term actions to impact the club. These combined actions over a period of time will, they hope, force change within the club’s senior management.
It’s difficult being a devoted fan of your club isn’t it? On the one hand you see the need for a change and the only way to vent your displeasure is to protest and begin actions you otherwise wouldn’t condone. On the other hand, you don’t want to damage the club you love. But, sometimes needs must and this is where your average Charlton fan now sits. Forced to watch the club being run by the hands of those that appear not to have a clue and seeing your team slide ever nearer to the next level in the football ladder isn’t easy at all
The former Addicks Chief Executive, Peter Varney, tried to bring in a new investor recently, but sadly for Charlton fans, that looks less likely now. The owners of the club are saying that the team is not for sale, this could drag on! Duchatelet bought the club two years ago, but despite what Varney had done in the past, neither Duchatelet or Chief Executive Katrien Meire will meet him to discuss the situation further.
In 2010, with Varney at the helm and Chris Powell as manager, Charlton won promotion to the Championship with a record points total and things started to look better. Fans sang that they had their Charlton back, but once again, they feel as though their club no longer belongs to them. We say fans, but those at the helm of the club described them as customers, never a good way of winning over the crowd. According to the Board in a recent statement, only 2% of the fan base are unhappy, a figure scorned at by supporters. Although three new faces have arrived at The Valley, the off-field activities seem to be unsettling the first-team and this is now reflected in the merry-go-round of managers and the decline in results.
Since Powell left in March 2014 and under Duchatelet’s stewardship, Charlton have seen five managers come and go. Jose Riga was appointed manager after Powell, but was not asked to stay once Charlton had fled from relegation issues that season. Whilst Riga moved on to Blackpool, the club turned to Bob Peeters, who lasted less than a year, then interim manager Damian Matthew – he lasted days before Guy Luzon, who steered the club to 12th place last season was replaced by Karel Fraeye, who was sacked in mid-January this year. Now Duchatelet has re-appointed Riga whose first game in charge was the 6-0 mauling at the the hands of Hull. Duchatelet and Riga have history. Not just previously at The Valley, but Duchatelet appointed Riga as manager of Belgian club, Standard Liege, before selling them in the summer of 2015. Yet again, fans there were unhappy at the sale of their star players, so this owner is used to unhappy ‘customers’. FYI, Duchatelet holds interest in five clubs across Europe in total.
So what next for the former family club that did so much to get back to The Valley in 1992? Further loan players could at least bolster the team’s depth and confidence, but this comes with a real element of risk. Once you start to get a couple of positive results under your belt, then there is often a continuation, so perhaps a win or two could breed some positivity. A current goal difference of -32 is unpleasant reading, but 10 remaining home games gives them a chance. In two weeks’ time, Charlton travel to another relegation side, Rotherham, and that will be a crunch game.
The club is in a state of flux at the moment and the fans are unhappy. However, at this moment, it is the team that needs all the help they can get.