Our response to Duchatelet statement about sale of club

The following message from Charlton Athletic owner Roland Duchatelet was placed on the club website on Friday 7th June. CAST comments are in blue italics.

RD:  "Our win at Wembley was fantastic and, as I mentioned, a credit to all involved. Following the win, I was filled with hope as one of the parties interested in buying the club wanted to move forward quickly to complete the purchase of the club. They want to solve the issue of the ex-directors loans first, which I can understand but may take time. In this respect I would like to thank Richard Murray, Sir Maurice Hatter, David White and David Hughes for their cooperation during this process."

CAST:  This is interesting. Duchatelet's representative Lieven de Turck has up until now consistently maintained that the former directors' loans have not been an issue in the sale process. If what he has been saying is true then we can only assume either that the interested party mentioned above is new to the process and has not been covered in de Turck's previous summaries or that Duchatelet has changed the terms of a previously agreed deal.

We assume that "co-operation"  means that the former directors named above have indicated a readiness to reach a deal over their loans (which are only repayable if the club reaches The Premier League). The other three former directors (Bob Whitehand, Derek Chapple and David Sumners) have issued a statement reiterating that their charges "remain over the club assets until our loans are repaid in full". They continue: "We are neither in a position to block any sale of the club (and would not want to) nor to resist the repayment of our loans (and the subsequent lifting of the charges)"

Voice of The Valley has reported that the former directors were contacted by Gerard Murphy for "The Australian Consortium" and an offer was made to buy out their loans for half of their value. This would amount to £1.33m - "significant to them but loose change in the context of the sale of the club and funding required for Championship football"

RD "The delay is frustrating, because the fact Charlton are now back in the Championship should increase our chances of being sold and now, with the summer transfer window opening, is the right time to acquire a club.  The past few years, I have continued to pay everything at the club, despite the way some of our staff members, their family, my friends, my family and myself have been treated by individuals who claim they act in the best interest of the club."

CAST:  Duchatelet hasn't paid everything at the club. Supporters have put in quite a bit through ticket purchasing and Valley Gold and there has been commercial and broadcast income. But he has indeed funded the losses -  albeit in the form of loans - and we do not find ourselves in the position of Bolton or Bury. But failure to fund the losses would have surely led to administration and to far greater financial loss for Duchatelet, as well as further devaluation of the club.

RD: "I do not intend to do otherwise until the club has been sold. However, I want to bring the yearly losses to a more reasonable level. Operating on a small budget will limit our chances of promotion to the Premier League, which are already obstructed by the large, unsustainable, overspending by some other clubs in the division. Does it mean we have no chance? No."

"Does it mean we will be relegated? Not at all. We have good players, good staff and the fans seem to be united behind the team again."

CAST: It is not unreasonable to wish to limit yearly losses. Even though a few football club owners are prepared to gamble, most - up and down the league and all over the country -  are trying to restrict their losses. But, in the light of the sums of money that some owners in The Championship are prepared to invest, a reduction of Charlton's current losses to a "more reasonable level" inevitable means that promotion to The Premier League will be well nigh impossible, notwithstanding how brilliant the team management is.

Relegation is indeed not inevitable. We all want to win games but there is also a pleasure in a backs to-the-wall against-the-odds struggle. Millwall have been an example of this in the last two seasons. Some fans will drift away if the team is struggling but most will be fully behind the team if they feel an affiliation with the manager and players.

"The fans seem to be united behind the team again".  They always have been, Roland.

RD: "Nevertheless, it is unlikely we will win as many games as we did in League One, where we had one of the largest wage budgets and we will need everyone behind the team as you were this season."

"Once again there have been some brilliant players to come through our academy this season and we will continue to bring players through next year. Our staff have already begun preparations for additions to our squad for next season and we have some good players at the club already as we look to build on last season."

"The club first spoke to Lee Bowyer about a contract extension earlier in the season. There is a trigger in his contract for a contract extension, which we exercised in May, and he needs to agree to this for his contract to be extended as per the current agreement. He has done a fantastic job and therefore talks about improving Lee’s contract are scheduled for next week. Both the club and Lee want him to be the Charlton Athletic manager next season."

CAST:  It is good to hear that "talks about improving Lee's contract are scheduled for next week" but we simply don't understand why the club's star asset was not secured months ago or, at the very least, immediately after promotion was gained.  We shudder to think how fans would react to the news that he has accepted an offer from another club because nothing appropriate was forthcoming from Charlton.

RD: "Stability is essential, even if the club gets sold soon."

"I have been trying to sell the club for nearly two years now. Many English football clubs are for sale and many of those have been for a long time. The main reason is that nearly all Championship club owners face huge yearly losses. It is unclear how long this can continue, with clubs losing tens of millions of pounds each year. It has become unaffordable for nearly anyone to own a football club in the Championship meaning it is not easy to find a suitable buyer."

CAST: Is it really true that "many English football clubs are for sale and many of those have been for a long time"? It is telling that they are not listed. We have been informed by Lieven de Turck that four or five credible buyers have been in talks about a take over in the last two years. He has never described them as "unsuitable"

RD: "For example, it is debatable whether the first candidate for buying the club, who was pushed, with the very best intentions, by ex-CEO Peter Varney, ex-director Derek Chappell and Rick Everitt (VOV from 29 12 15), the current owner of Ebbsfleet football club, would have been the right fit for Charlton."

CAST:  This has been categorically denied by the individuals concerned. It looks rather like an attempt to discredit them by linking them to the recent unfortunate events at Ebbsfleet.

RD: "A specific issue in relation to the sale of Charlton is that while a club in London is very attractive, the value of land and buildings is high because the stadium and the training ground are located in London. This wouldn’t be a problem for rich enough acquirors but we have had quite a few interested parties who wanted to buy the club while renting the stadium and the training ground."

CAST: In the end the value of the club is the amount someone is prepared to pay for it, not a professional's estimate of the book value of the land. As Accrington owner Andy Holt has said - " any value of land comes with the liability of a football club"

RD: "Being back in the Championship will be of help to a takeover because it is one step less to the ultimate goal: getting into the Premier League. In the meantime owner and fans are stuck together. Please make the best of it. Let’s try to win games and enjoy those moments at The Valley."

CAST: "Owner and fans are stuck together" is a memorable phrase and Charlton fans will surely try to "make the best of it".  But the idea that owner and fans are together facing some intractable external opposition is pretty far-fetched. Most fans are clear who has the ability to unstick the situation and reach the conclusion that we all (including Duchatelet) want.

The former directors' statement can be seen here: