Football is becoming known as more and more of a business nowadays but when does it start becoming a joke? Charlton fans are starting to feel like it’s going too far, and have held this opinion pretty much from day one when our new owners took over back in January 2014. It started off with selling the odd star player and bringing in cheap replacements, to this season which has really highlighted major problems and lots of them – so many that . Instead, the salient points will be covered that have made all our fans want to unite against our Belgian owners.
Nearly every Charlton fan in the world; maybe even some neutrals, can see that the main objective of our owner; Roland Duchatelet, is to make a profit. This is fair enough, as no football club wants to go into any sort of financial problem but this has come at some fairly extreme costs so far, some of which are very frustrating. For example, as of the end of last year our main ticket office is now being used as an NHS call centre. Slowly we are watching the club we love being run into the ground and can only stand idly by.
It is evident that the owners are slowly draining our fans of passion and going by the team’s performances; with the exception of one or two games, that passion is being drained out of the players too. Everything we once prided ourselves on is now being ruined one by one. One of the less extreme examples is our match-day programme. Some people may say it’s not a big thing but every team has one and Charlton’s was awarded the runner-up for the best match-day programme of 2015. Now fast forward to this season and our owners are planning to scrap the publication in favour of a small booklet pretty much filled with adverts, inevitably incentivised by increased revenue.
Our CEO; Katrien Meire, has ignored a number of pleas from Charlton fans which has led us to these protests you have all probably heard about one way or another. She has annoyed supporters on many occasions by referring to us simply as “customers” and that it is “very weird that we should complain”, then proceeding to compare a football club to a restaurant. She also said after our first major protest that it was only “2%” of fans who were protesting and that it apparently made her cry with people shouting at her when the people there could clearly see her with a smile on her face. The final straw for many is her ability to make up utter nonsense and expecting us to believe it when it is clearly wrong. For example, recently she said in response to us going through too many managers: “We’ve got better with every manager we’ve had”. Considering The Addicks lie second bottom in the Championship at the moment and at the end of the 2014/2015 season we finished 12th, either she can’t admit she’s wrong or she genuinely believes that.
Richard Murray; our non-executive chairman, has been with us since our Premier League years and instead of sticking up for us fans, he has defended our owners saying “no one would intentionally run a football club into the ground”, and followed that up by saying: ’It doesn’t make any sense’. He may well be right but we were never saying that he was doing it on purpose anyway. The fact is simple – Duchatelet is ruining our club and doesn’t look like changing his strategies so Murray needs to stop being a naive ‘yes man’ and stick up for the fans.
So there is the hate triangle that all of our fans are protesting about. It seems that we are getting close to the point of no return so we need to hope these owners take our protests on board and get out of our club before they ‘unintentionally’ run it into the ground.
By Edward Segrue
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Rory