CAST survey: The anxiety beneath the jubiliation

The results of CAST's annual season ticket intentions survey are out:

Charlton supporters returning from Doncaster on Sunday were jubilant. The experience of being in a vociferous crowd in the spring sunshine watching a skillful and committed team reminded us all how uplifting football fandom can be. The extraordinary level of ticket sales for the second leg on Friday suggests a fan base brimming with optimism and belief thanks to the team spirit that Lee Bowyer and co have built. The potential for our club is there for all to see.

However, the results of CAST's annual season ticket intentions survey demonstrate the levels of anxiety and pessimism that lurk just below the surface. The importance of promotion is vital and it is almost as if Charlton fans are determined to make the very most of the current euphoria because of their uncertainty about the future.

94 % of respondents said that they felt negative (71% very negative) about the future of the club if Roland Duchatelet remains the owner and the team does not win promotion. Even if the club is in The Championship next season 77% felt negative (32% very negative) if Duchatelet remains. 

Responses do show a positive shift in supporting patterns:

40% of respondents say they will buy a season ticket for next season. This compares with 31% at this point last season and 29% in 2017 and 2016. 88% of those buying a season ticket intended to do so before the early bird deadline. A further 37% stated that they would definitely (27%) or possibly (10%) buy a season ticket if there was a change of ownership.

In terms of match day attendance 42% said that they did not support Duchatelet's ownership but continued to attend games as often as before. This is an increase from 35% last season. The number reporting that they did not support Duchatelet and attended less often fell to 23% from 26%. Those boycotting home games fell from 21% at this point last season to 17% now. This is in contrast with the 32% who declared themselves boycotting home games in our attitudes survey in October last year. 

Support for protests was at its highest in 2017. This year's survey shows a slight dip but nevertheless confirms that over three quarters of fans remain clearly opposed to the owner and willing to back protests.

77% of respondents said that they would support future protests at The Valley if Duchatelet remained the owner. This is a reduction from 81% last year and 89% in 2017. 47% said they would support protests in Belgium compared with 53% last year and 88% in 2017.

(NB - there might be some confusion about the meaning of the word "support". Some respondents might have interpreted it to mean actively take part).

The survey was completed by 503 supporters of whom 65% were CAST members. This is a  reduction in the number of respondents to previous surveys - there were 927 respondents in May 2018 and 1463 in May 2017. Some supporters have undoubtedly drifted away from all things Charlton but, as match day attendance has remained largely the same in the last twelve months, we interpret the lower respondent numbers as being evidence more of a sense of fatigue and powerlessness among supporters about the ownership situation rather than apathy about the club.