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Takeover. Part 564 in a very long series

Charles Sale of the Daily Mail was first out of the traps again with a Charlton takeover story this morning suggesting that Standard Liège owner Roland Duchatelet has bought the club for £14m. The OS later issued a short statement in which Michael Slater was quoted as saying that the current owners are in “very constructive discussions that we hope to conclude soon.”

Since The Mail’s latest tip off the proposed takeover has been widely reported in many media outlets both here and in Belgium, although a later online edition of Flanders News said that there was still a number of conditions to be met, which sounds eerily similar to the Josh Harris offer.

That deal was considerably under the radar compared to the Duchâtelet one, albeit this has appeared from nowhere. The price is £4m less than that allegedly agreed with Harris, which may speak of the urgency in which Jimenez and Slater want to rid themselves of the club, or more likely a combination of that and growing pressure from Kevin Cash to get some of his investment back.

Roland Duchâtelet is a very interesting character. The 67-year old has a high profile in Belgium politics and made his money in the electronics industry as the owner of semiconductor manufacturer Melexis amongst others.

Duchâtelet has been on a bit of a spending spree recently and has quite a collection of football clubs. He bought Standard Liège in 2011 for £35m. Before that Duchâtelet owned Belgian 2nd Division club Sint-Truiden, but after the purchase of Liège, Duchatelet was forced to relinquish them to his business partner. Very recently he bought the famous old (East) German club Carl Zeiss Jena for £2m. These days the one time UEFA Cup Winners Cup finalists play in the regional 4th division of German football and in Hungary one of his sons, Roderick, owns Újpest.

When Duchâtelet first took over at Liege, their fans demonstrating in the streets, and in fact broke into his office, following the fireside sale of the team’s best players, presumably to make them more financially viable, but their current position two seasons on is not to be sniffed at, top of the Belgium Pro League by 4 points after thrashing KV Kortrijk 5-1 on Friday night.

A complete generalization, but I would rather us owned by a football loving European than a megalomaniac billionaire whose riches and intent are very difficult to quantify. One concerns is that Duchâtelet adds Charlton to his stable and we are nothing more than a feeder club, similar to how Udinese and Watford are run. Mind you, I think English football has reached that point when a closer cooperation between clubs might well be beneficial to all parties if carefully and mutually guarded, and of course morally right. That’s a discussion for another day.

Back to Duchâtelet’s offer and word has it that Richard Murray and his family will retain 10%, but all ex-directors need to sign off any deal. Conspiracy theorists are suggesting that this is just another ploy by Jimenez and Slater to hurry up another interested party and why Charles Sales was given a valuation. One thing is for sure, there is still a lot that can go wrong, as well we know.

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