Charlton Athletic has joined forces with Fans Supporting Foodbanks to help locals in need over Christmas. Supporters will again be able to donate non-perishable food at The Valley before Charlton’s home game against Gillingham this Saturday, after a successful collection event before the game against AFC Wimbledon last weekend.
The items collected by Fans Supporting Foodbanks will be given to Greenwich Foodbank, which operates eight foodbanks in the borough, and is in desperate need during the busy Christmas period.
Last year, Greenwich Foodbank fed 7,505 people. This year it looks like numbers could be as much as 20 per cent higher, meaning a constant supply of food is crucial.
Charlton fan Samuel Spong created Fans Supporting Foodbanks after being inspired by a similar initiative in Liverpool. He said: “The aim is to utilise the collective power of football fans to help vulnerable local residents get through Christmas. This is the first time we have done something like this and Charlton, given its long-standing commitment to community work, seemed like a natural partner.”
Alan Robinson of Greenwich Foodbank said: “We are very excited by this initiative. We know that Charlton Athletic and their fans care deeply about our community and to partner with them to explore a new source of food at a time when demand is increasing gives us confidence for the future.”
Greenwich Council’s leader has stepped into the crisis engulfing Charlton Athletic, writing to the football club’s owner Roland Duchâtelet urging him to pay staff the bonuses they have earned.
Backroom staff at The Valley and at the club’s training ground in Sparrows Lane, Eltham – many of whom are poorly-paid and work long hours on matchdays – have been told by the Belgian electronics magnate that they will not be receiving promised performance bonus payments because the club is in financial trouble.
Staff are considering legal action against Duchâtelet, whose four-year tenure at the club has seen the team relegated to League One amid a backdrop of instability, with a huge drop in income with the loss of TV rights money and fans staying away from The Valley.
“There is a huge groundswell of concern over this issue and is is a testament to the strong feelings… that so many fans are set to take part in a protest which could disrupt the match on Saturday,” he said.
He added that the club was “a source of great pride” in Greenwich borough.
A promised takeover of the club has, after many months, still not materialised, and Duchâtelet has instigated a cost-cutting regime, including denying academy players bottled water, cutting the use of electricity and taping up paper dispensers in toilets.
Thorpe’s intervention is the first time the council has got involved in the long-running saga at Charlton, although local MP Matt Pennycook has written to Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and the English Football League about the issue.
Two years ago, Thorpe’s predecessor Denise Hyland refused a request from a fan to talk to Duchâtelet about fans’ worries about the club’s future. The following year she even took part in a photocall with Eltham MP Clive Efford and Duchâtelet’s former chief executive to promote the redevelopment of the club’s training ground.
Last summer, the station broadcast from a studio inside the Valley Central community centre run by the Charlton Athletic Community Trust. Weekly Addicks radio show Charlton Live also appeared on the station, which plays a mix of music from the 1980s to the present day with local news coverage and events listings.
Founder and presenter Duncan Martin said: “It’s great to know that next time we go on the air, it will be full-time! The previous seasonal broadcasts were a huge success and our team strongly believe that we could deliver a radio service to Greenwich on a full-time basis. We’re thrilled that Ofcom also share our opinion!”
The station says it had 7,000 listeners during its 2016 run. It hopes to go on air in the first half of 2018, and is looking for advertisers to help fund its output.
Saturday saw fans of Charlton Athletic and Coventry City march together to protest about the running of their clubs.
Charlton fans are angry at the stewardship of Roland Duchâtelet, who has not attended a match at The Valley in two years, and his chief executive Katrien Meire, which has seen the club go through seven managers, an exodus of experienced backroom staff and the team relegated to League One. Coventry fans face losing their ground for a second time under the ownership of a mysterious hedge fund, Sisu.
Charlton Athletic fans protesting against the club’s controversial owner have raised £3,500 for Charlton Park Riding for the Disabled Association after selling nearly 1,000 protest t-shirts.
The black and white shirts – loosely based on the kit the Addicks won the 1947 FA Cup in – have been sold as an alternative to the club’s official shirts for fans who are boycotting official merchandise while Belgian electronics magnate Roland Duchâtelet remains in charge.
Duchâtelet and his chief executive, Katrien Meire, have overseen the club’s collapse into League One and a 40% drop in season ticket sales since taking over in January 2014. They are now on their seventh team manager, Russell Slade, and are 14th in League One.
Fans clubbed together on the Charlton Life forum to get the shirts made – even getting them sponsored by technology company Data Techniques, which pulled its own backing from the club in protest at its mismanagement.
They have now made enough money from sales to donate cash to local good causes. A further £3,500 is going to the Demelza children’s charity, which operates a hospice in Eltham.
Other proceeds from sales will help fund further protests against Duchâtelet, which have included disrupting matches with black and white beach balls and protesting in the tycoon’s home town of Sint-Truiden.
John Furlonger, chair of the trustees of Charlton Park Riding for the Disabled Association, said: “The group is run entirely by a happy, dedicated team of volunteers getting disabled children on horseback, so it’s very dependent on its community. The same volunteers also work astonishingly hard at everything else in between, from mucking out the horses to fundraising. No charges are made for riding.
“This wonderful donation will go a very long way indeed in making a real difference helping local disabled children to reach their true life potential. Heartfelt thanks are sent from everyone at Charlton Group to each and every Charlton fan who contributed for your kindness.”
Bob Jacobs, who runs Data Techniques, said: “Over the past 20 years we have spent in the region of £200,000 with Charlton as match sponsors, executive box holders and on corporate events at The Valley.
“For us it’s always been about ‘our’ team, not the owners of the club. By sponsoring the protest shirt, we took the opportunity to publicly express our opinion on what is happening to the club and support such a good cause as Demelza.”
Although Duchâtelet has finally appointed a manager with British experience after trying a succession of failed “head coaches” from Belgium, fans and the club’s owners remain bitterly divided. Recent developments include:
The disclosure that much of Charlton’s transfer policy was being run by an inexperienced Belgian, Thomas Driesen, over the heads of the club’s coaches and scouts. Driesen remains involved in Duchâtelet’s set-up.
The grandson of Jimmy Seed, the manager that won Charlton the FA Cup in 1947, has disassociated his family from plans to renew the faded “Jimmy Seed Stand” sign that adorns The Valley’s south stand. “He would be horrified to hear about the scouting ‘system’ imposed on the club by Roland Duchâtelet over the last four years”, Jim Dutton said.
Season ticket sales are down to 6,297, compared with 10,278 at the same stage last season – the lowest figure in nearly two decades – as long-term fans stay away.
A rare visit to London by Duchâtelet saw the club boast he had met a “fan group” set up by the owners, Target 20,000 – but even that stage-managed show of harmony ended in disarray after one of its members was told to resign after discussing the meeting on Twitter.
Duchâtelet told the group he rarely visits the club as it only accounts for 1.5% of his investments, and that he wished rival football fans would mingle together, as they do at rugby. Ironically, Charlton fans have been joined by rivals in their protests – including those of AFC Wimbledon, who beat the Addicks 2-1 at The Valley last Saturday.
The Addicks’ decline doesn’t just affect the club, it affects the area too, which is why this website will continue to cover the protests. Locally-based fan Dave Thomson and The Valley Cafe’s Mehmat Mantery discuss the impact of decline and Duchâtelet on the club and the community in this short video.
Tickets have been cut to £5 for next Saturday’s match against Rochdale. The Football for a Fiver match has traditionally attracted crowds of well over 20,000 – but with fans having withdrawn goodwill from the club, this season’s match is likely to see renewed protests as well as a fall in sales.
A limited number of protest shirts are still available for £25 adults and £19.05 for children – visit coveredendchoir.co.uk for more.
Update: The club has removed the £2.50 charge following “fan feedback”, but the £3 surcharge for buying in the two hours before kick-off remains.
Football fans who buy their match tickets from Charlton Athletic’s ticket office at The Valley face having to pay an extra £2.50, it has emerged.
The club – run by unpopular Belgian electronics magnate Roland Duchâtelet – has slapped the extra sum onto the cost of each transaction to encourage fans to buy their tickets online instead.
Duchâtelet’s management, led by chief executive Katrien Meire, is also levying a £3 charge on each ticket bought in the two hours before kick-off.
They say supporters can escape the charges by buying in advance and printing their tickets at home, or using a smartphone. Fans can order online and have tickets posted to them for £1, while telephone orders now also cost £2.50.
But fans, who invaded the Valley pitch at the end of last season to protest at the way Duchâtelet and Meire run the Addicks, have complained that the club’s ticketing website is unreliable and does not offer a full range of ticketing options.
The charge also affects casual supporters, such as people who live close to the club who may decide at the last minute to watch a match, or opt to buy in person because it is more convenient than using online methods.
Arrangements for away matches – which are supplied by the host club and cannot be printed at home – are also unclear. The club’s ticket office implied on Twitter this afternoon that the charge would apply for away tickets, but fans could escape the charge by ordering online and then collecting from The Valley. When asked to confirm this, the club did not respond.
It has long been believed that Duchâtelet and Meire are running down the club’s ticket office to persuade fans to switch to online ticketing, saving money and creating a potentially lucrative marketing database. It is already only open to personal callers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
The club could be in breach of consumer law if it does not offer a way of buying tickets that does not result in an additional booking fee.
Fans uncovered the fiasco today as tickets for the first away match of the club’s League One season, against Bury, went on sale. Many may now just simply bypass Charlton and buy their tickets directly from the Greater Manchester club on 6 August, the day of the match, if they are available there.
Following the club’s relegation to League One, life at The Valley had appeared to be more stable since the appointment of new manager Russell Slade, a reversal of Duchâtelet’s past policy of employing “head coaches” who he was already familiar with.
But season ticket sales are widely believed to be well down on last season as fans boycott the club. Duchâtelet and Meire’s decision to levy extra charges on individual match tickets is expected to further hit attendances at The Valley, which were already set to drop to their smallest level for two decades.
Look out for this symbol in shop windows around Charlton this weekend – football fans are being urged to use local shops and pubs today instead of using facilities at The Valley as protests against absentee Charlton Athletic owner Roland Duchâtelet continue.
The Coalition Against Roland Duchâtelet want the Belgian, who has not attended a match since October 2014, to suffer as much financial damage as possible in protest at his stewardship of the side, which is almost certain to be relegated to League One.
The Addicks face Derby County at home at 3pm, and fans of both clubs are being urged to use local outlets to put a financial squeeze on the unpopular owner.
“Throughout this week, CARD has been talking to local pubs, takeaways, newsagents and more, and encouraging them to display special endorsement posters in the windows of their stores,”the group says.
“Now it’s your turn. We want you to use those local companies prior to the Derby game. We want you tell the shopkeepers and till operators why you are spending money in their stores.
“Unlike Roland Duchâtelet’s current regime, these local businesses are here for Charlton supporters for the long term. We’re asking you to support them, and in the process hit the regime financially and put pressure on its relationships with business partners.”
Fans are asked to highlight their boycott on social media with the hashtag #cafcboycott.
Now, inspired by Duchâtelet’s chief executive Katrien Meire taking a 10-day holiday to Dubai instead of overseeing the struggling side’s loss to QPR last weekend, CARD has decided to hold a “beach party” outside The Valley at 1.30pm.
There are two more home matches left this season, with CARD promising “a big protest party” ahead of next Saturday’s match against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Charlton fans have raised more than £20,000 to fund their campaign to force Duchâtelet out, with a protest song, More Than Just A Toy, released last Monday. It’s available via Bandcamp with all profits going to the protest fund.