Saturday, 4 January 2014

A Fresh Start...

I was sat in a gem of a pub in deepest Islington yesterday when the club finally put the speculation to bed and announced that Belgian entrepreneur Roland Duchâtelet had completed his purchase of Charlton. My gut reaction was to raise my glass and smile, but despite the renewed hope and obvious excitement of what we all hope will be a positive step forward, I also can't deny I'm nervous to see how it will all pan out. Mr. Duchâtelet comes with a reputation of being a very tough businessman first and foremost, but he also has experience of owning numerous football clubs and perhaps most significantly, great personal wealth. Quite how much of that he will invest in the club only time will tell, but he will be well aware that to get any return on his investment he will need to provide the funds to push this club back up this division or, dare I dream, beyond it!
But lets not kid ourselves, Duchâtelet is not a Charlton fan so we can not expect him to act like one. His investment will be his driving force and one we can only hope we benefit from going forward. That's not to say he won't become Addickted further down the line; this club has a habit of drawing you in slowly and not letting you go as I can vouch for as well as anyone.
With the January transfer window now open some new additions to the squad will be essential if we are to pull away from the bottom reaches of the league. Already an attacking midfielder has been bought in on-loan from Standard Liège, the Belgian club owned by Duchâtelet. Like most Addicks, I would prefer to see players arrive at our club on contracts rather than loans, and all without the need to sell any of our prize assets. 
Equally as important, I would like to see the new owner recognise the importance of our current manager by renewing his expiring contract. The same can be said for the majority of the 1st team squad (or at least, those Powell wants to keep). I do not even want to contemplate a time without Powell as our manager. He may still have much to learn, but he is Charlton to the core. There will never be a time I have as much respect, admiration and love for a Charlton manager as I do for Chris Powell.  
So what of the previous owners? In the past I've resisted the temptation to have a dig a Jimenez and Slater, mainly as I'm the type of person that prefers make up my own mind on a subject based on 'known facts' rather than the endless negative rumours or speculation flying around. I realise I've been more patient with them than the majority have and perhaps more than they deserved, especially given the fact they made no credible attempts to communicate with us (despite occasionally referring to a '5 year plan'). They undoubtedly saved us from administration when they took control of the club almost three years ago and they must take some of the credit for us winning League One and returning to the Championship in such fine style (quite how much I couldn't say), but it is their own fault if those facts are overlooked or dismissed by the majority of Addicks unable to look beyond the downsides to their ownership and the perception of arrogance towards us, the fan. 
It has been clear for some time Jimenez and Slater lacked the financial clout to back Charlton and we was slipping alarmingly backwards. Let's hope the demise has ended and a new, more positive chapter is about to be written. I can only hope Mr. Duchâtelet's management team are a little more transparent. 
Earlier in the day Charlton's FAC game against Oxford United was unsurprisingly called off due to the recent adverse weather rendering our awful quagmire of a pitch unplayable. It is embarrassing to say the least, but thankfully the poor state of the Valley surface has already been recognised by the new owner where it had been neglected by the previous and work will begin shortly to address the problems. Let hope this quick and decisive action is a good sign.

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