The EFL responds at last

We have at last received a response from the EFL about the review they have been conducting of the situation at Charlton Athletic. John Nagle (EFL Head of Policy) wrote this week on behalf of Shaun Harvey (former CEO of EFL)  as follows:

Apologies, once again, for the delay in getting back to you on this.

Before his departure from the EFL, I discussed the situation at Charlton with Shaun and he supplied the following note for me to pass on to you:

“The story of the breakdown in relationships at the club is a sad one. The fact that promotion to the Championship was achieved against this backdrop is therefore a credit to Lee Bowyer and the players.

“While reference has been made to Charlton being a club in crisis, it is important to note that the EFL is not aware of any substantiated debt to other clubs, the football family or in unpaid taxes.

“I remain satisfied that Mr. Duchâtelet is committed to finding a buyer for the club and will do so when an appropriate offer is made. He is the only person that can make that decision. The EFL obviously cannot condone any actions by supporters that have had a direct impact on Mr. Duchâtelet and his family.

“On the issue of outstanding bonuses to staff. I have no doubt that the relevant employees genuinely believe that they are owed the payments. What I have not had presented to me is any evidence that doesn’t rely on an individual’s account of what was promised. The club did make significant losses during the period which I recognise would have been even greater had it not been for the efforts of all the club’s staff. I have raised the matter with Mr. Duchâtelet who is firmly of the view that there is no obligation to make the payments and despite my representations that doing so would be a positive gesture from him that may help repair some of the differences that exist more generally.

“I wish everyone associated with the club every success in the future.”

Shaun Harvey

Our comment is as follows:

It was the EFL who stated on their website in late August last year that they were to meet with the club and CAST to "gain a full understanding of the situation which surrounds the club".

The club subsequently requested that the EFL "examine the communications by the club, CARD, CAST and on various social media platforms" in order to "make recommendations on how the club and the other groups can improve this"

The EFL met with Roland Duchatelet; CAST; club staff; and representatives of CARD between October 2018 and January 2019.

It may well be the case that the EFL, as a result of these meetings, did indeed "gain a full understanding of the situation which surrounds the club" but we are disappointed that the response we have finally received seems to make no effort to shed any light on or make any observations about why the club has experienced so much turmoil under Duchatelet's ownership and why so many long-term supporters have felt disillusioned and alienated.

We had hoped for a slightly more incisive analysis of the conflict at the club between the owner and  staff and supporters than "the story of the breakdown in relationships at the club is a sad one". Could Harvey not have brought himself to consider whether some of Duchatelet's public statements might have played a part, along with his refusal in five years to meet with bona fide supporter representatives? We fully understand the limitations of the EFL's regulatory powers over its member clubs, but we are disappointed to see that Harvey does not respond at all to our request that he consider whether some of Duchatelet's actions and statements might have served to bring both the club and the EFL into disrepute. We asked him about the Owners & Directors Test and the EFL Club Charter and in what ways these might be strengthened to protect clubs but his response is silent on the matter.

Furthermore, we consider the statement that "The EFL obviously cannot condone any actions by supporters that have had a direct impact on Mr. Duchâtelet and his family" is both unnecessary and insulting to Charlton fans.

We are grateful to John Nagle for ensuring that Shaun Harvey did at least make a response before he left the EFL but the nature of the response only serves to reinforce our view that it remains a top priority to press the FA and the EFL for the appointment of an independent regulator to oversee a licensing system for all clubs.