Charlton owner Roland Duchatelet has “demanded” that the English Football League buys the south London club and rents the stadium and training ground back from him.
The bizarre proposal was first aired in a fans’ forum on Wednesday by Lieven De Turck, the man Duchatelet has placed in charge of talks to sell the League One club.
But despite fans unanimously rejecting the idea, dismissing it as “unfeasible”, the 72-year-old Belgian has doubled down by putting the demand in a statement on the club website.
In it, Duchatelet blames the league for changing the rules of the game during his first year in charge by letting Championship clubs make bigger annual losses than when he bought the club.
This meant, he claims, Charlton went from competing with teams that could lose 50-60 per cent of the Addicks’ turnover in 2014/15, to struggling against teams suddenly able to lose 108 per cent of his club’s annual revenue.
“Under these new rules, the EFL is allowing or actually forcing shareholders to double their investments and thus dramatically increasing the financial burden,” the statement said.
“While the attractiveness of the Championship competition has always been that it’s the most competitive league in the world, it is now becoming renowned for being the biggest financial graveyard or black hole in football.”
The statement goes on to claim that after finishing 18th and 10th in his first two seasons at The Valley, Charlton’s small squad was ravaged by “too many injuries”, leading to protests from fans, “which didn’t help”, and relegation.
The “damaging and sometimes criminal protests”, coupled with the “changed financial climate”, persuaded Duchatelet to put the club up for sale at the end of 2017.
But despite agreeing terms with two potential buyers, the sale has stalled, something Duchatelet blames on “fake news” about him scrimping on water for players or withholding staff bonuses.
Asking which “foreign candidate owner” would put up with this treatment, the statement finishes by saying “therefore the owner demands that the EFL acquires his football club”.
This astonishing outburst follows a radio interview Duchatelet gave to TalkSPORT on Tuesday in which he said buying Charlton had been a “major mistake”; warned foreign investors against buying into English clubs, and blamed disaffected Addicks fans for the vandalism.
But he also said he was willing to facilitate the sale of the club by giving it away for £1, although he would retain ownership of the property assets, further suggesting a “proposal” would be made at the fans’ meeting.
It led Charlton fans, many of whom have been protesting against Duchatelet’s reign for several years, to wonder if they were going to be given the chance to buy the club.
But at the forum, his representative De Turck explained the proposal was more an idea Duchatelet wanted to run by the fans for their feedback.
In “notes” from the forum published on the Charlton website, the club explained De Turck “is looking to think outside the box at other options”.
According to the notes, De Turck asked fans what they thought about offering the club to the EFL.
“He said they would pass the EFL Fit and Proper Persons test, they understand the monthly losses as they have the financial figures of the club and they have the football know-how to run it,” the notes explained.
The idea, however, was given short shrift by supporters present at the meeting, who told Duchatelet to lower his asking price. The response to the idea on social media on Thursday has been vitriolic.
The Belgian millionaire also owns majority shareholdings in clubs in Germany, Hungary and Spain, and previously owned Belgium’s Standard Liege and Sint-Truidense.
But his time at Charlton has been dominated by disputes with the fans, relegation and a revolving-door approach to managers. Despite this, the club is enjoying its best season for years as it currently sits fifth in League One.
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