ROLAND OUT: Charlton fans celebrate as hated owner Duchâtelet finally sells up

Fans United Protest - The Valley - October 2016
Charlton fans held a protest march with Coventry City fans in October 2016 (photo: Neil Clasper)

An Abu Dhabi-based consortium has bought Charlton Athletic, ending five years off calamitous ownership by the Belgian electronics magnate Roland Duchâtelet.

East Street Investments – named after the street (now Eastmoor Street) near the Thames Barrier where the Addicks were founded in 1905 – have bought out Duchâtelet, who alienated fans by interfering in team selection, sacking much-loved manager Chris Powell, drafting in unsuitable players from other clubs he owned, and mocking unhappy supporters as “vinegar pissers”.

Fans threw plastic pigs onto the pitch and travelled to Duchâtelet’s home town of Sint-Truiden to protest at a regime which saw the club relegated to League One in 2016. While the Addicks regained their Championship status this spring after winning a play-off final at Wembley, the future of the club – and especially manager Lee Bowyer – remained uncertain with key players and the manager himself only retained on short-term contracts. Now many fans are ending lengthy boycotts of the club.

The new chairman, Matt Stratford, said in a statement: “While we may be the club owners, truly we are only the custodians. The true spirit of this football club rests with the fans, it is nothing without them. Their support throughout some difficult times both recently and in the past has been inspirational and we intend to build on that loyalty. Our priority will be immediate contact with fan groups in order that their views play a major role in the club going forward.”

Stratford’s fellow director is Tahnoon Nimer, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Business Development, the private office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, a member of one of the six ruling families of Abu Dhabi. The company oversees the running of more than 60 companies including energy, insurance, broadcasting, shipping and sports businesses.

Charlton fans will be hoping it is third time lucky with new owners – Duchâtelet was preceded by Michael Slater and Tony Jiminez, whose reign foundered when promised financial backing was withdrawn. The new owners’ plans for The Valley and the club’s training ground at Sparrows Lane in Eltham will also be closely scrutinised.

The team are next in action tomorrow against Sheffield Wednesday, with tickets on sale from The Valley.


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Metro Bank gets go-ahead for Charlton retail park branch

Metro Bank design
The bank plans a glass-fronted building

Metro Bank has been given permission by Greenwich Council to build a new branch to replace the McDonald’s drive-through restaurant on Bugsby’s Way.

Only two objections were received by the council to the scheme, which was reported on this website in September.

The site is on land designated for long-term housing development, with the council’s own Charlton Riverside masterplan stating that the Bugsby’s Way retail strip does not conform with the council’s “policy to promote Woolwich as a metropolitan town centre”.

With only two objections, the decision can be made by council officers without the application going to councillors to discuss. There is no report by planning officers, so the council’s response to the objections remains a mystery.

Metro Bank – which has had well-reported difficulties in recent months – is aiming for a 25-year lease on the site. The planning permission is valid for three years.

One council condition is that 12 “secure and dry” cycle parking spaces must be provided, on a site that is one of the most intimidating for cyclists in the borough.

McDonald’s has a lease on the land until October 2021 – when contacted by The Charlton Champion in September, it was unable to answer questions about its future plans.


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Charlton House switches on its Christmas lights on Thursday

Charlton House
Charlton House is switching on its Christmas lights this Thursday, 28 November. It’s hosting a festive market too, with local traders selling gifts and Christmas decorations. It runs from 4pm to 6pm, and there are more details on its website.


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