Finally. Good riddance
Good riddance to old fruit loop rubbish. 6 years to the day that Roland Duchatelet added Charlton to his football club collection, we are rid of the old scroat after the EFL finally ratified East Street Investments purchase for a sum guessed to be in the £50m range.
After the narcissist ownership of Tony Jimenez and Michael Slater backed by the secretive and shall we say complicated assets of Kevin Cash, we were very glad then to see a new owner with fresh ideas take the club on in January 2014. Especially after Cash cut Jimenez’s credit card up and for the longest time the club survived on a shoestring.
Yet, there were very early warning signs that despite some good intentions, specifically surrounding changes to FFP rules, Duchatelet was a man not opened to anyone else’s ideas and had less of a clue about the culture of English football than he did in Belgium where he was rapidly making a pigs ear of owning the famed Standard Liege.
After buying Standard he sold his local club St Truiden to his wife, although he retained ownership of the stadium. Duchatelet also owned at that point FC Brussels, Carl Zeiss Jena and was soon to buy Spanish 2nd Division club AD Alcorcón. He also had an investment in another Belgium club AFC Tubize. In Hungary his son Roderick was the owner of Újpest FC. M. Duchatelet’s dream of a football player factory was on.
I noted a few days after the introduction of Duchatelet that there had been a worrying trend of revolving coaches and managers and lots of player turnover at his other clubs. I ended that post with this line: “Roland Duchâtelet. Nutter or trailblazer? I guess we’ll find out!“ We did.
A week after Duchatelet took over he showed that he had no desire to be involved other than as a puppeteer, when he put Katrien Meire in place as CEO. Meire wasn’t just a puppet but Pinocchio and The Land Oz’s Scarecrow all rolled into one, and time has told her legacy to English football. Currently under a misconduct charge by the EFL.
In those first few weeks a fair few of us were starting to ask questions. The first interview with Duchatelet and Meire was behind a pay wall on the Official Site, which was a small but telling expectation of the fan engagement we were going to discover. Then Chris Powell, who was busy keeping us in The Championship and getting us to the Quarter Finals of the FA Cup, had goalkeeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien foisted on him, and a confusion that later was superbly told on the Getting to Know The Network podcast, started to reign.
Before the first month of Duchatelet stewardship was over there was heartbreak for Addicks as Duchatelet sold hero Yann Kermorgant for next to nothing.Addicks and Powell were livid. Dale Stephens was also cashed in on transfer deadline day, a traumatic day that was to become all too familiar under the Belgian’s reign.
There were very worrying similarities between Standard Liege and Charlton I wrote. The alarm bells were ringing and Chris Powell stood and watched as Loic Nego signed a three and a half year contract, Piotr Parzyszek signed a four year one and Reza Ghoochannejhad two and a half. All fees undisclosed and all three players along with Thuram-Ulien became poster child’s for Roly’s fantasy network.
The re-writing of the first four weeks of Duchatelet’s reign has sent shivers down my spine. I’m going to stop there because others much, much closer to it will, I hope, one day tell the story so much more brutally than me.
Duchatelet is gone and good riddance to him and Thomas Drieson and all the other sycophants who fall for his lunacy and beliefs.
On these pages I simply tried initially to understand Duchatelet’s attentions always pushing for what his and Meire’s objectives and plans were for OUR famous football club. When it became obvious, although not to all, that his destructive and pig-headed actions were a long term disaster for Charlton Athletic I attempted to write informed and at least candid options of his ownership supporting others in anyway I could to rid ourselves of the cancer that had afflicted OUR historic club.
We prevailed, we won. Again.