Last night the Fans' Forum met at The Valley.
The Fans’ Forum meet every three months and is made up of fan representatives. To find out more about the Fans’ Forum and contacting your fan representatives click here.
Since July, takeover specific Fans' Forum meetings have taken place in-between each meeting to keep fans updated with progress. Notes on the previous meetings can be found here.
Last night's meeting was attended by members of the Fans' Forum, club staff and Lieven De Turck (LDT), who is representing the club in takeover talks. The below notes were produced by the club and approved by fan representatives at the meeting.
These notes include a section of questions with the club's Head of Recruitment Steve Gallen (SG) and a takeover latest from LDT.
Other points were discussed in the meeting including season tickets, Player of the Year Dinner and the club's Armed Forces Day. Notes on the full meeting can now be found here.
Steve Clarke (CAST) asked why Charlton seemingly had budget to bring a player in on transfer deadline day, which they did not do, but weren't able to sign a free agent just a few weeks later.
SG said the transfer window started very well with the signings of Jonny Williams, Chris Maxwell and Ben Purrington. He said he hoped that would give a couple of weeks to work on a bit more. (The question was answered in more detail later in the meeting - details are further down the page)
Les Herbert (Maidstone Addicks) asked if the owner would have been happy to keep Karlan Grant if the player wanted to stay.
SG said he and Lee Bowyer (LB) desperately didn’t want to sell Karlan Grant and fought tooth and nail to keep him. He said that if Karlan had wanted to stay, he believes the owner would have kept him. He said he had no ill will to Karlan as he was going to play in the Premier League and getting a huge wage increase.
SG named four targets that the club had leading up to transfer deadline day and said none of them are playing for their club regularly now which hurts. He said they all wanted to come to the club and that the funds were there for one of those players but all parent clubs said ‘no’. He said they were working their way down a list of seven or eight and that they got to a stage where the players they were looking to bring in would not improve the squad. He said they were working right up until the deadline, to get someone else in, that would improve the squad, in addition to Josh Parker who signed for the club on deadline day.
SG said with every player that comes in Roland Duchatelet (RD) will look at him as will his adviser Thomas Driesen (TD). He said this was the same for all the transfer business in the summer. SG said he has a good relationship with TD. He said nearly every club he speaks to, nearly every chairman/owner has an adviser or a couple of advisers. He said part of his role is selling a player to TD. He said he doesn’t always agree with TD, like he doesn’t always agree with LB but that he respects the way he works.
SG said that he and LB have discussed that situation and said you either fight it and probably lose, or work with it and hopefully win and generally, he said, looking at the players coming in Krystian Bielik and Josh Cullen etc. – they’re good players.
Ian Wallis (Bromley Addicks) said he thought the standard of the signings this season has been excellent. SC agreed. SC said the fans respected LB and SG’s opinion as football people.
SG said he and Lee Bowyer were keen on an unnamed striker who had been released by his club. He said the player involved had not played a lot of football but he thought it was worth a gamble. He said that RD had pointed out that last season the club took a gamble on a free agent striker who hadn’t played for a while (Leon Best) and that the medical bill for him had been very expensive. SG said there is still budget available but he doesn’t think there is anything out there in the free transfer market that will make the squad stronger.
Barnie Razzell (City Addicks) said SG was getting great value this year. He said it doesn’t add up that there wasn’t a replacement striker.
SG said on transfer deadline night when it got to 11pm and a player didn’t come in, he was devastated. He said they did everything they could to get players in. He said him and LB were together at the deadline and were gutted.
He said he’s not overly involved in the finances of the club but he believes the player sales contribute towards some of what the club lose each year. He said he would have liked to have had some of the money to spend. He said once you’ve got blocked out of something, you have to move on and he says LB does that very well.
SG said they’ve brought the wage bill right down this year, he says that is not what fans want to hear about but the club was paying too much in the past.
SC asked where the club was with contract renewals on players.
SG said he is fully aware how many players are out of contract. He said some of them the club want to sign new contracts and some of them won’t be offered new contracts. He said this would be the case whatever division the club are in. He said the club having been paying too much. He said he has a fair idea of where the club is in comparison to other clubs. He said because Charlton are a big club and have come from where it was, the club are paying Championship wages to some players. He said that will partly change this summer and that is a good thing for the club.
SG said the agents have a lot of power and that you have to work with them.
SG said they have players they are talking to about new contracts with and he is confident the club will get the players he and LB want signed. He said all the times he’s gone to the owner on player contracts, he’s been supportive, particularly on the younger players.
SG said he had a chat with Pat Bauer (PB). He said how much PB loves Charlton Athletic. He said PB wants to play in the Championship. SG said getting promotion would make a big difference on players the club can keep.
SG said everyone is aware a club wanted to buy PB in the summer and RD said ‘No, we’re not doing it’. He said RD did well there and helped them out.
Christine Lawrie (Reminiscence) asked about Lee Bowyer and Johnnie Jackson’s (JJ) contracts for next season.
LDT said within the board (RD and Richard Murray) there is consensus on LB and JJ. He said conversations will start soon on their contracts as they are doing a good job.
SC asked how soon those conversations will start.
LDT said they will do it in a decent time period.
SC said the two of them are critical to the club.
LDT said the consensus in the board is to continue with LB and JJ. SG added that both LB and JJ are aware of that. He said they’ve both been talked to about it.
SG said he doesn't want it happening on his watch that the club pays too much. He doesn’t want someone coming in after him, whenever it is, and saying “What? He gave him that contract?” SG said: “We’re in League One, we pay fairly but we never pay over the odds”.
SG said the younger players have signed contracts – Dillon Phillips, Lewis Page, George Lapslie. He said these players are on a proper contract, no “stupid wages”.
SC asked about next year’s budget
SG said he’s had a few discussions with RD about next season already. He said they have a basis of a squad but they want to improve. He said irrespective of division they want to bring good players into the club. He said he knows he has to unearth some gems, so they have to look downwards, in League One, League Two, non-contract players. He said he doesn’t think they’ll be any big fees paid out but he thinks they can work with that. SG says he has five scouts that work with him and that LB loves the recruitment bit. He says Lee’s always telling him: “Steve knock them down a couple of quid”. SG said no matter what division we are in, we’ll make sure we have a good team put out.
SG said in terms of actual finances, he doesn’t know. He said: “I got told in the summer that we can’t go above a certain amount, Lyle Taylor became available and it was quite a bit more than the amount I was told. When you make the right case, for the right player Roland will adapt. That’s what he has done so far.” He said Jed Steer was above what he was told he could bring in for a goalkeeper but SG pushed him and he was allowed to bring him in.
SC asked for confirmation that if the takeover doesn’t take place, will the club put out a competitive team next season?
LDT said we have to see what division we are in. He said they will look to use a similar format next season in recruitment to this season. He added that SG is doing a magnificent job.
LH said after listening to SG he feels a lot happier.
BR asked if the club can keep Krystian Bielik (KB).
SG said they have a good relationship with Arsenal who have been really pleased with Bielik’s progress at Charlton. SG said KB loves it at Charlton. He said if the club get promotion Charlton have a good chance to get him again. He said that an Arsenal representative will meet him and LB next week.
SG said Steve Avory and his team continue to do a fantastic job producing players ready for the first team.
LDT said much of the takeover was discussed last week (in last week's Fans' Forum) and there has been no big changes since then. He said that the owner’s demand had been submitted to the EFL and that they heard back that the EFL have received the request.
He said RD is not willing to decrease the asking price. He said ideas are welcome from the Fans’ Forum to speed up the takeover process.
SC asked about rumours in the press that an offer of £35m had been turned down.
LDT said the only offers that have been refused have been ones where the new owners would pay rent for the stadium and training ground, which would have been separate from the club.
LDT said there had been no £35m offer received for the club.
LDT said RD is only looking to sell the club as a whole – training ground, stadium and the football club.
The next Fans' Forum takeover update, should it be required, will take place on April 24th.
The next full Fans' Forum meeting will take place on June 5th.