Statement from Charlton SUPPORTERS’ Trust – CAS Trust, 14.1.15

Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust is extremely disappointed in how the managerial changes at Charlton Athletic Football Club have been handled and presented to the fans. The response of our members and the wider fan base (as evidenced in social media) has been extremely negative at a time when recent team performances have already disappointed.

The Supporters' Trust is not in a position to demand that the owner (or any owner) invest money in the Club. It is not party to the circumstances surrounding the dismissal of Bob Peeters, nor is it qualified to assess whether Guy Luzon has the necessary skills to improve the team performance. It does however have a good understanding of the opinions of fans; not just through daily informal conversation but through professionally executed research.

The single most upsetting, and potentially dangerous perception that the Club has created in the last 48 hours is that it has deliberately misled the fanbase over the recruitment of a new Head Coach. A club statement issued on Monday had said that the decision to replace Peeters had been taken on Saturday evening, that Messrs. Matthew and Roberts had been put in charge of the team, and that a new appointment would be made of a Head Coach “for the long term”. Just 24 hours later, Guy Luzon had been appointed as the new Head Coach of Charlton Athletic, on an 18 month contract. In today’s press conference it was even stated that Luzon had been identified as the ”favourite” on Saturday evening.

The result is that fans overwhelmingly feel they have been misled by the Club. The Supporters' Trust believes this was wholly unnecessary and highly damaging to the business of Charlton Athletic Football Club. Fans are now talking about “falling out of love” and feeling “a disconnect” with the Club. Football is a purchase driven by emotion. There is now a high risk that many fans will feel less inclined to make that purchase. In a league where match-day, rather than TV derived revenue remains the most important source, we believe the owner should be concerned about this risk.

In the short term the Supporters' Trust urges the owner to take steps to explain honestly the rationale behind the change in Head Coach, the expectations he has of the new Coach, and the resources he may be given to fulfil those expectations. Charlton Athletic supporters do not have misplaced expectations of grand success. Indeed we have a recent history of supporting the Club most when it was financially crippled. But that period was marked by open and frank explanations by the Board of the business situation.

The Trust aims to rekindle that relationship between the fans and the Club. We believe that mutual trust and openness will help channel the fans’ passion in a way which is positive financially for the club and emotionally for the fans. We have consistently sought dialogue with the Club, with this aim. We believe that such dialogue could have helped avoid a number of issues which have disappointed fans in the preceding months.

Therefore for the long term, the Supporters’ Trust strongly urges the club to prioritise meaningful and sincere engagement with its fans, since we believe their involvement accompanied by transparency and a shared vision will bring the greatest security and success to Charlton Athletic. We repeat our offer for open, ongoing dialogue with the owner and the board. We also urge the club to explain to supporters the current strategy, how it engages the owner’s network of clubs, and how it will secure Charlton Athletic for the long term.