CAST shares the disappointment and sadness felt by all Charlton Athletic fans following our relegation on Wednesday night. For many, these are the worst times they have known as Charlton fans. For others, grim memories of the lowest points in the club’s history will be resurfacing. It is hard to overstate just how dire the situation in which we now find ourselves is.
Alongside the devastation of relegation, however, we feel a real sense of pride and gratitude for the way Lee Bowyer, his backroom staff, and our players have conducted themselves this season - a sentiment we know the vast majority of Charlton fans will share. Simply put, without the commitment and loyalty shown by Lee and his team, as well as those players who stuck with us until the end of the season, we would have been down and out a long time ago. They – and Lee, in particular – kept us in with a chance, all while working under near-impossible conditions.
It is clear to CAST that, had Charlton Athletic Football Club at any time this season had owners with the club’s best interests at heart, we would be playing Championship football next season. The blame for our relegation, and the associated, potentially disastrous, consequences, lies squarely at the door of: (1) Roland Duchâtelet who, because of his absurd overestimate of the value of the club and its assets, has driven away a number of reputable buyers; (2) East Street Investments, which signed up to liabilities to Duchâtelet which no sensible party willing to buy the club would consider taking on; and (3) some of the individuals behind East Street Investments, and their associates, who have done their level best to bleed the club dry for their own gain. None of them seem to care about the past, present, or future of Charlton Athletic.
It is the role of the EFL to ensure that those who seek to own our football clubs – these crucial community assets which mean so much to so many – are fit to do so. They have failed to discharge their duties to protect our clubs, and Charlton and Wigan Athletic are the latest casualties in what is becoming a long list of failings. We look to and call upon our elected representatives and government, which ran on a manifesto including footballing reform, to make good on its promises, and give football fans a governing body which is fit for purpose, and which prevents the various footballing travesties of the past twelve months from ever being repeated.
Matters may develop quickly with regard to Charlton over the coming days. We still, many months on from the events which triggered them, await the outcome of the EFL’s investigations into Charlton, Derby County, and Sheffield Wednesday - any or all of which may still have a material bearing on the outcome of this season, as well as the next. But, even if our club did manage to avoid relegation, the fundamental issue remains the same: that we are currently owned by a company which, over a period of nearly eight months has failed to satisfy the EFL of its source and sufficiency of funds. The outcome has been a deeply damaging transfer embargo and the alarming prospect of expulsion from the league.
CAST’s recent efforts have been concentrated on lobbying the EFL to recognise the jeopardy our club is in and to bring pressure to bear via our local MPs and the press. We have also supported a petition for a review of the owners and directors test . We have surveyed our supporters' attitudes about the club to ensure that we can represent them accurately and we have continued to build links with other supporter groups. We have built a database of over 3000 supporters willing to get involved if some sort of supporter ownership is needed. We have expressed our support to Peter Varney. We are determined, in conjunction with all Charlton fans, to do everything in our power to ensure that the club passes into the hands of owners who have the best interests of the club at heart, as well as the financial capability to ensure its future. We believe that Andrew Barclay and Peter Varney could deliver that vision but we also believe that the ability to bring it to fruition or to frustrate it still lies squarely with one man in Belgium.
Over 1000 Charlton supporters have joined CAST in the last two months - no doubt motivated by the parlous state of affairs at our club. This has pushed our total membership over 2500 making us one of the largest supporters' trusts in the country. Together we are stronger. You can join here:
If you are concerned about the future of our club sign up to the OUR CLUB campaign here: