Supporters are demanding assurances about takeover negotiations and transfer funds from club director Richard Murray, with Duchatelet still absent
19 January ~ The Charlton Athletic pressure group Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) have announced that their “period of truce is over”.
A planned protest outside The Valley before Saturday’s home fixture against Walsall will see supporters demand assurances from club director Richard Murray regarding the status of takeover negotiations and the potential reinvestment of incoming transfer funds. Duchatelet’s continuing absenteeism, having not attended a game since 2014, and the recent resignation of chief executive Katrien Meire make Murray the club’s sole match-going director, and hence the immediate target of attention.
It looks likely that two of the club’s most prized playing assets will have departed by the end of the January transfer window, and with an opaque ownership situation clouding the mitigation of those losses, some fans are beginning to resign themselves to a third consecutive season in League One. After a strong start to the season results have deteriorated in recent months, with the Addicks’ position in the play-off places looking increasingly precarious.
The losses of two first-team regulars in the form of last season’s top scorer Ricky Holmes to Sheffield United and highly touted academy product Ezri Konsa to Everton for a reported £400,000 and £4 million respectively will be keenly felt in a threadbare squad that have gone into two of their last five league games without a full cohort of seven substitutes.
This week’s official confirmation of the Holmes sale came accompanied by a brief statement from Murray that the ongoing takeover talks between Duchatelet and “various parties” will prohibit the ability of manager Karl Robinson to bring in permanent squad additions this window, and has understandably done little to ease the frustrations of fans.
A CARD spokesperson confirmed that their long-running protest campaign, which has previously seen lawful direct action take place in both south-east London and Duchatelet’s native Belgium, had been on hold for the season so as not to derail either the club’s promotion push or a potential takeover bid.
With the club having “damaged that prospect itself”, CARD have made their intention clear that, should Murray not be shortly forthcoming with clarity on the situation, a timeline for takeover negotiations, and a guarantee that transfer funds be made available should those discussions founder, “the gloves are coming off”. Ffion Thomas
Update: CARD have since suspended the protest after Richard Murray agreed to meet Charlton fans
Photo by Simon Gill/WSC Photos: A tattered flag at The Valley, home to Charlton Athletic