Date: 20th January 2016 at 10:57am
Written by:

“At the moment whatever strategy Charlton have got, it is getting us relegated.”

That is the damning assessment from Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust Chairman Steve Clarke.

A club on the slide, the Addicks’ season has gone from the briefly good, to the very bad, and now the consistently ugly.

The last fortnight has been one of the worst in recent memory with two humiliating Championship losses, conceding five to Huddersfield and six at Hull, leaving the club four points from safety.

28 November 2015 Football League Championship - Charlton Athletic v Ipswich Town: Charlton fans protest about a remark by a club owner which stated that only 2% of supporters were unhappy. Photo: Mark Leech

It’s currently a very unhappy Valley. Fans hold up ‘We are the 2%’ signs after Katrien Meire said 98% of fans are happy with how the club is being run.

Charlton have been under ownership of Roland Duchatelet and chief executive Katrien Meire for two years now, but many fans feel that their side has taken a backwards step since he took over.

Born out of the frustration of fans from all sides of The Valley is the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD).

According to Clarke, the coalition has been created to maximise the voices of Charlton supporters through protests.

“What CARD ultimately want to achieve is for Charlton to return to a competitive and normal football club, at the moment the only way we believe this will happen is if Roland Duchâtelet sells,” said Clarke.

“CARD and I want to make clear that it does not support personal abuse, xenophobia and violence, we want to hold respectful, peaceful and meaningful protests at every home game to show our concern with how our club is being run.”

The main problem for Clarke, who says CARD have also planned midday tweets on game days to announce a surprise protest to increase awareness of their situation to others, is the board’s failure to communicate regularly or properly with the same fans who helped save the club when they went into administration and had to relocate from The Valley between 1985-1992.

“We are struggling to communicate with the board and the few messages that have come out have been extremely negative,” he said.

“Communication has not been good for some time now and we do think there is a lack of understanding from the board.

“Back in November we had the fans forum with Katrien’s presentation, but we have had nothing substantial since then.

“From the club’s point of view maybe silence would be better at the moment but a main issue for fans is we do not know what the strategy is.

“If Roland is not going to sell then he needs to start talking to us because we cannot walk away from our club.”

The managerial debacle has been equally unstable. Interim manager Karel Fraeye took charge of a remarkably long 14 games, winning two, before being dismissed last week, allowing José Riga back into the hot seat 18 months after being shown the door.

riga2

The reappointment of Jose Riga is the fifth managerial change Charlton have made in the two years Roland Duchatelet has owned the club.

Like Duchatelet, CEO Meire, who has previously referred to fans as “customers”, seems to have no interest in running a recruitment process, instead hiring coaches within the Belgian businessman’s network of clubs.

When Fraeye was eventually shown the door, Clarke believes the reappointment of Riga was a wasted opportunity for the owner to start building bridges with fans.

“Let me be clear, what Riga achieved last time was brilliant but this time he will have a much more difficult task,” stressed Clarke.

“For all he did, I thought this would be the time to finally get a proper experienced manager with knowledge of this tough league.

“We needed a Mick McCarthy or a Nigel Pearson, someone who could have sorted this team out.

“Our main problem on the pitch is a lack of Championship experience and I don’t think we have that in our manager or our players.”

The magnitude of the defeat against Huddersfield prompted Charlton skipper Johnnie Jackson and the players to reimburse fans that travelled.

And although the sentiment was appreciated by the supporters, Clarke hopes this will not become regular scenario.

“It was a nice gesture from Jackson and the players but it doesn’t stop the fact it was another loss.

“I am certain that fans would rather see their money spent on Championship players rather then seeing their money returned each week.

“My concern is who would want to come and play for Charlton at the moment? You won’t get many offers.”

It is quickly becoming clear that the Addicks may have to settle for third-tier football next season, a possibility most fans are already preparing for.

Clarke said: “I think our problems cannot be solved in one transfer window.

“Our goal difference (-32) must be a record for this stage of the season and I don’t think we can recover from that.”

Fans of Charlton simply want their ongoing nightmare to end but with confidence in the club sinking faster then their crowd numbers and the board unwilling to listen or communicate, the toxic situation at The Valley looks as if it’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

We have asked Charlton Athletic to comment on the matter but they have yet to respond.

 
Brought to you by Shoot!