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HAPPY WITH TOUGH TIMES AT THE VALLEY 

Now for those of you who are Addicks I’m sorry to go into some details here but for those of you who aren’t and haven’t heard any of this before, I wish I could say I’m making this up but unfortunately this is entirely true. So let’s look at what is going on at The Valley. 

Wow, where else can I begin besides asking. What in the hell is happening at Charlton Athletic? After going through some of arguably the worst owners in football we finally got to a point where we for some reason got our hopes up yet we are in our worst position ever, but why?

As I just said we have had some of the worst owners recently, and through no lack of trying on behalf of the last owners we are still alive and kicking. You could be mistaken should you not be an Addick supporter for wondering why we are still so ardent on the fact we can be in the premier league again soon, don’t get me wrong with how this season has gone so far Ive had doubts myself but given the position we had been in just over 12 months ago, this is nothing for us to deal with.

Charlton fans in attendance last season during the defeat by Doncaster
(Getty Images)

I can’t talk about this not being a major issue without mentioning those previous owners. First off was Roland Duchâtelet and what a piece of work he was and in some ways still is and as far as I am aware he still owns our ground The Valley and our training facilities in Sparrows Lane. However that is how he was able to sell us and still be controlling us at the same time but it still doesn’t explain some of the other issues from his ownership reign.

During the period of time in which we happened to be under his control, our beloved club was just used as little pawn in his game of chess. Now I know this may sound farcical but we were not the only team he owned, we then became almost a development club for his other sides, it sounds even more ludicrous than I think as I write it down but it’s unfortunately the truth.

At the same time that still doesn’t cover other issues with the way he decided to run our club. Throughout his time in charge I kid you not to count the amount of times he attended a game at The Valley you could use 1 hand. How about that the owner of a club over the course of a 5 year period attended as little as was physically possible. But the icing on the cake was when someone who he had brought in to Charlton referred to us the fans and supporters of the club as and I’m not lying “customers” if that doesn’t show how little we were thought of I don’t know what does.

Previous owner Roland Dichatelet who sold the club for £1 despite initially wanting £60 million Credit: Corbis – Getty

Then finally we feel like we get our club back when after attempting to sell us for what felt like an eternity and after offers that didn’t allegedly meet his expectations Duchatelet at long last accepted an offer from ESI (East Street Investments). To their credit they came in with all these speeches about how they were going to do so much for the club and that we would be one of the new rich clubs in football. 

All that talk worked in the beginning as I’m sure I can say I’m not the only person who fell for it all hook line and sinker. Before to long things started to seem murky and as it turned out all they did was blow a whole load of smoke up everyone an nearly brought our club down to its knees and out of existence. 

Despite all of this smoke blowing and talk of the money that ESI had in their accounts they continually found ways to dodge the EFL owners and directors test, it was at this point I feel we all started to wonder, What the fuck is going on? We didn’t have to wait as long as with the rat to find out we had been done over again.

3 that’s right 3 of the prospective owners had failed the test, no wonder they kept trying to avoid it. Funny enough that’s not even the worst part of these alleged owners as it came out that we had actually only been sold for £1 or for those in Australia using the current exchange rate that is $1.84 and boy oh boy it gets even sillier from there. 

Members of ESI the previous ownership team

One of the main people in with ESI had begun to show up to the ground and training facilities in brand new cars and not just any cars, the cars were either 1 of 6 Range Rovers or a Merc that had been paid for with the clubs money. Yes you read the end of that right they purchased the vehicle’s with the clubs money almost £1 million worth, how can that be normal we are a club who are attempting to get promoted up the league’s and we are treated with such contempt by our ownership party.

Following on from all of these issues it finally appeared we would be able to move on with Thomas Sandgaard who as wanting to take over as the new owner. However in true Charlton fashion we had another spanner thrown in the works with a lawsuit filled to prevent the sale of the club from occurring. What else could go wrong?

While all this was going on despite being under a transfer embargo due to those wonderful people at ESI, we had to attempt to build ourselves back up following a disappointing end to to our previous season that saw us get relegated from the Championship back into League 1. After a slow start to the season that would eventually hurt us we found form and started to get the results we needed but unfortunately the magic man in charge Lee Bowyer resigned as manger and moved on to pastures new.

Thomas Sandgaard will take the lead as Charlton search for a new manager/ Getty Images

That leads us to now after Bowyer left we brought in Nigel Adkins who did a miraculous job to have us pushing for the playoffs but only missing out on goal differential. However coming into the new season on that form at the end of last season and with Adkins being in charge all summer and getting the squad going his way you’d be mistaken for believing that we would be pushing for automatic promotion this campaign. 

Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case this season as we are sitting in the relegation zone after 13 games and only 2 wins 3 draws Adkins has been shown the door with former captain and previous assistant Johnnie Jackson taking charge on an interim basis. While we aren’t happy with the results I for one writing this post am looking back through the struggles we have seen not just recently but over our history and I’m happy. 

Yes that might sound crazy but look at where we are as a club now compared to 6 or so years ago in terms of a future. We have an owner who is constantly going out of his way to attend games, interact with fans whenever possible and isn’t just using us to fill their pockets. And for me the major thing compared to only just almost 12 months ago we are now not more worried about if we will still have a team to support we are now more worried about results and how the team is performing and that is why I’m happy all the while not overly happy to be where we are. 

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