Ownership timeline

CARD continue to demand that the owner sells the club. This is interesting, since it became clear that those leading the protesters don’t care who the club is sold to. Rick Everitt wrote recently (VOTV, June 7th) that “neither (Derek) Chappell nor I were ever aware of the interested party’s identity” when he led a campaign which saw thousands of fans demand the owner sell the club. 

From the beginning of 2016, Rick Everitt and others organised protests based on the claim that the owner had refused to meet with the intermediary (Peter Varney) who represented aforementioned buyer. Today it appears that Everitt wanted the club to get sold to somebody he didn’t know. 

Fans, who at the time were understandably very sensitive to the bad results of the team, were convinced that any owner would be better than Roland Duchatelet. It became a witch hunt to which the club failed to respond properly. There were protests during games, throwing of tennis balls and plastic toys on the pitch to stop games to make the owner sell to anyone.  

Posts on fan forums of that time show that some felt that those protests during games were accepted as a means to a higher objective, because even a relegation of Charlton from Championship to League One was seen by quite a few as a collateral damage to a higher objective, since it would increase the chance of driving out the owner out of the club.

When the current owner acquired the club early January 2014, the club was in the bottom positions of the league. Yet the club avoided relegation by averaging 1.5 points per game under the newly appointed Jose Riga. Charlton finished 18th in the 2013/14 season which left most Charlton fans happy.

In the 2014/15 season Charlton finished a very respectable 12th place.

The 2015/16 season started well, however we ran into serious injury problems early in the season. Dissatisfaction grew but there were no protests during 2015.

The protests started in January 2016, after two years of ownership. Varney, an ex-employee of the club, had approached the owner to talk about a prospective investor. The “investment” was not presented as a potential purchase of the club but as an undefined investment which may have been an investment in LED boarding for example - while the owner had no financial problems to finance all the needs of the club. All these confidential emails were published by Rick Everitt in VOTV on December 29th 2015. Only when an ex-director visited the owner in Belgium in February 2016, it became clear to the owner that there was a candidate buyer (and who he was). 

Therefore, it is interesting that Everitt wrote recently (VOTV article of June 7th 2019) that “neither Chappell nor I were ever aware of the interested party’s identity”. 

Everitt encouraged thousands of fans to demand the owner sell the club to somebody he didn’t know. 

The owner was willing to sell the club anyway then, because the EFL Financial Fair Play rules changed allowing Championship clubs to lose £13m per year rather than £6m per year, making owning a club in the Championship much less attractive. 

However, the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet did exactly the opposite of what was desirable to promote the sale of the club:

-     They urged fans not to buy season tickets to reduce income and thus increase the yearly losses of the club

-     They got in touch with sponsors to convince them to stop sponsoring our football club with the same objective

-     They heavily criticized measures to reduce costs

Some individuals have started a personal war against the owner which has nothing to do anymore with the wellbeing of the club. It is a personal feeling of hatred they developed and a personal feud. It seems that their main objective is to make the owner suffer as much as possible, while Duchatelet is locked into an undesired ownership.

Candidate owners do not only study the finances of the football club, they also have a close look at how the fans may treat them once they have bought the club. When the current owner did his due diligence, he found that Charlton had a very good, strong and vibrant fan base and a very good and strong social role in the local community. Will candidate buyers believe that the protests against the current owner are due to his incompetence? Maybe, who knows. Surely they would not like to be the victim of a similar treatment whilst pouring millions of pounds into the club every year.

Some are surprised that the owner is totally open with regards to the negative points of ownership, which might discourage some candidate buyers. There are two reasons for this: 

-      it is a matter of ethics 

-      it is also good business practice in order to strongly reduce the risk of claims by the buyer after the club has been sold

It is something the owner has done when selling three other clubs (Alcorcon, Standard Liege and St Truiden) which were not for sale as long as Charlton have been.