Details to come
Pre Roland Duchâtelet
Roland Duchâtelet took over Charlton in January 2014, Duchâtelet was already the owner of a few football clubs including Standard Liege in Belgium where Duchâtelet is from. Duchâtelet bought Charlton from previous owners Tony Jimenez and Kevin Cash. The pair had bought the club in 2011 and achieved promotion Championship in 2011-12.
In the last years of ownership money provided by Cash started to dry up and it was clear that a new owner was required. The majority of time under the ownership of Jimenez and Cash was a turbulent time at the club and even during the promotion season problems started to surface. Details are are covered in the first episode of the Getting to know the network podcast.
The first season back in the Championship was tough for Charlton, however after a slow start manager Chris Powell guided the team to 9th spot only 3 points off the playoffs.
In the 2013/14 season there wasn’t a vast amount of investment in the squad over the summer and the team struggled on the pitch with only 5 wins by the end of the year. Off the pitch wages were late for players and staff. Someone needed to take over, that’s where Duchâtelet came in.
Roland Duchâtelet buys the club
Duchâtelet’s company Staprix NV paid around £18 million for 100% of the shares in the club. Katrien Meire was brought in as chief executive. At the time the purchase was welcomed after the problems under previous owners, but it wasn’t long until new problems arose under the new regime.
With the takeover conducted in the January transfer window players started to be brought into the club from Duchâtelet’s others clubs from Belgium and Hungary, this often being not at the request or knowledge of Chris Powell. This is was the first signs of “The Network”
Some players were brought in with the understanding they would have a minimum of games to play. Duchâtelet even emailed manager Chris Powell questioning his selection of goal keeper Ben Alnwick over Yohann Thuram. Another email went to suggest selection, formation and tactic changes to Powell. The emails can be read online.
Chris Powell didn’t last long as manager and was sacked in early March to be replaced by José Riga. Duchâtelet had previously employed Riga before at Standard Liege.
Charlton ended the season in 18th place under Riga. However at the end of the season Riga wasn’t given a long-term contract. Duchâtelet appointed his 3 manager is less than a year, fellow Belgian Bob Peeters.
Peeters didn’t last the season, he stayed till January 2015. Peeters was in charge of 28 games, winning 7, drawing 13 and losing 8. Peeters felt that there was no investment in the squad in January after a good start to the season one of the reasons behind his departure.
Peeter has problems with chief executive Katrien Meire who previous to Charlton was a lawyer and had worked with Duchâtelet at Standard Liege as a legal and international relations manager. Many felt that her work on the football side of things wasn’t up to the standard required and her views on fans caused more friction with Charlton supporters – see the section below on Meire.
Next in the hot seat was Guy Luzon, another former Standard Liege manager. His start as manager wasn’t ideal as his work permit wasn’t granted in time and he wasn’t able to attend his first match against Watford.
Luzon would finish the season as manager and Charlton finished mid-table in 12th position thanks to a great run in February and March. However, they finished the season with only one win in the last seven games.
In 2015 Duchâtelet sold Standard Liege which resulted no access to Standard Liege players on loan and a cut in his scouting network that had provided players for the club. Protests from Standard Liege fans were cited as one of the reasons for the sale of the club.
The form from the end of the season continued in the 2015-16 season with only 4 wins from the start of the season till the new year. Guy Luzon was sacked on the 24 October 2015, to be replaced by Karel Fraeye as interim manager who had been Jose Riga’s assistant. Fraeye was sacked in January with only 2 wins in 14.
To replace him? Jose Riga came back for for more. Under Riga form picked up but it wasn’t enough and Charlton were relegated back to League One after four seasons in the Championship. Riga left leaving Duchâtelet looking for his 7th manager.
2016-17 started with Russell Slade as manager. Slade only lasted 21 games only winning 5. Kevin Nugent came in as caretaker for 3 games and then Karl Robinson was appointed as manager in November. Robinson steered Charlton to a mid-table finish in League One in position 13.
CARD – Coalition Against Roland Duchâtelet
In 2016 various supporter groups (Supporters from Anti Roland Demos, Spell It Out and Voice of The Valley) came together to increase the pressure on Duchâtelet to put the club up for sale. Since then CARD have been at the forefront of the protests.
Black and White – During protests fans have worn black and white a nod to the colours worn in the team’s 1947 FA Cup final win over Burnley and that fans wanted a clear “Black and White” answer to what was happening at the club.
Protests have included a billboard outside of the site with the statement “here before you and long after you’ve gone.
7th of May the home game against Burnley which was Charlton’s last game in the champion ship saw mass protests in the stadium with flares thrown onto the pitch along with mini black and white footballs. A huge “Liar” sign was held above chief executive Katrien Meire in the directors’ box. At the end of the match fans tried to rip up a sofa which had been installed at the ground as a marketing stunt by the club.
Visit to Belgium – on the 12th of November 2016 fans visited St. Truiden in Belgium on Duchâtelet 70th birthday to continue the protests on Duchâtelet doorstep. 5,000 leaflets were distributed around the town to explain the situation at the club.
The protest ended with a banner being hung outside of the restaurant where Duchâtelet was having a meal.
Katrien Meire was brought in as chief executive of the club when Duchâtelet bought the club. A couple of incidents have stood out during her time at the club. Meire was at the Web Summit conference in December 2015 talking about Charlton and her role. During the interview she mentioned that fans don’t see themselves as customers. The conversation went onto explain her view on supporters at football clubs. See the video below.
In a meeting in later 2015 Meire mentioned that only “two percent” of Charlton fans were unhappy with the situation at the club. This comment resulted in the stand up for the two percent protest at the home game against Ipswich live on Sky with the majority of the home support showing it was more than 2% unhappy with the running of the club.
The Guardian produced a video in April 2017 explaining the situation at the club.
http://www.gettingtoknowthenetwork.com – 4 part podcast about whats going on at the club
https://charltoncard.tumblr.com/ – All about CARD activity
http://www.votvonline.com/ – Voice of the Valley fanzine
http://www.castrust.org/ – Charlton Athletic Supporters Club