Monday, 14 January 2019

The Boycotter's Dilemma

As Lee Bowyer continues his determined push to win promotion, I find myself in an increasingly difficult and uncomfortable position as an affirmed 'boycotter.' 

The last five years have totally convinced me that the club cannot be successful under an owner who has zero positive emotional attachment or interest to the club and whose track record has been to ultimately prioritise operational finance decisions above football ambitions. There is a growing argument that, so far, this season may look different come April, but there should be no doubt about the previous four and half years.

My decision to stop attending matches after 39 years of loyal home and away support (practically every home game, albeit less away matches in more recent years as I have aged and completed over 100 league grounds) was borne out of total frustration with Duchatelet (and Meire who carries a large chunk of the can) and a realisation that money was his only driver and that the sooner he knew he had lost the majority of the fans, the quicker he would finally get real and sell up. I don't buy the lazy view that he couldn't care less because he's a billionaire. The facts don't support this. He has been clear since day one that he was never going to throw money at ownership (I didn't have a problem with that and was actually quite impressed he was upfront and didn't pretend otherwise). 

However, he has repeatedly sold the better players to reduce his operating losses, regardless of the impact to each season and the success of the football team. Remember, he sold our top scorer in Kermogant within weeks of taking over and at a time when we were in relegation trouble and struggling to get goals. He has continued in this approach and the only real difference was his decision to hang on to Ademola Lookman for another window which won him a much larger fee. I won't list all the others because we all know them. If we add to this the early days 'network players' who, for the most part, were very poor and the long list of subsequent loanees and free transfers, it's also clear that the overall squad has been impoverished. Remember too that this has been in League one for the most part.

In addition to the deliberate lack of first team funding - I am sure we might have done better with the budget had we had competent management (Katrien Meire's complete lack of experience combined with reliance upon that ridiculous Belgian schoolboy who convinced Duchatelet he could pick players from playing Football Manager in his bedroom) - Duchatelet has exposed himself in the last couple of years with his pointless penny pinching and open focus on minimising his operational losses. I could go on about all the other cost-cutting, like his decision not to replace departing members of the senior management team and run the club on a skeleton crew but again, I would hope we all know and understand this.

So in summary, I have been convinced that we cannot progress whilst he owns the club and that only a continued drop in revenues was the only thing left open to us, as supporters, to get the futility of his situation through to him and speed his exit.

During the last two seasons as more supporters have joined the 'boycott' we have also seen a corresponding rise in the numbers of those who 'just want to support the team' and who have been keen to urge the stay-aways to come back to support the side. This has caused a lively internet debate and some friction between supporters although I am pleased to say that hasn't really surfaced at games, where clearly, anyone present is supporting team, home and away.

Back to the Boycotters Dilemma, we now reach half-way in a season where Lee Bowyer has continued to defy the odds of his budget and unfortunate injuries to be sitting handily placed in fourth with hopes of a hitherto unlikely promotion. The team are playing good football and we actually have a scoring front pair which is also encouraging the 'just support the team' crowd to continue to advocate for a Boycotters return.

I should also add, at this stage, that many Boycotters (including me) have also found themselves in the hard-to-believe situation of, for the first time ever, not caring too much if the side loses or slides on the basis that the quicker we fail under Duchatelet the sooner he was likely to pull stumps and the recovery process could begin. News earlier this year that he was now ready to sell the club and his acknowledgement that he had made a big mistake buying us because he had little interest, underlined the Boycotter's beliefs and allowed many to move on from the lack of concern about results thing although it still remains a case of 'only when he's gone.'

We still need to negotiate the January window intact but the decision to bring three bodies in to strengthen the squad, including the surprising addition of Jonny Williams, has all fans looking up and the lure of possibly watching a promotion redemption story increasingly attractive. No doubt many will return simply because they want to witness it if continues to be a possibility or looks even more likely, however, there will remain the risk that they are again contributing to Duchatelet's losses with the possibility that there will still be no sale.

The most recent takeover speculation has also fuelled this debate and, to some extent, both increased the call 'to return' as well as almost inevitable disappointment that there is still no end in sight and that to some extent expectations are once again being managed.

Personally, I will continue my boycott until the club is under new ownership but I am firmly rooting for Bowyer and the boys because, ultimately, I want the club to be successful and if there is a chance we could be taken over as a Championship side or a Championship side-in-waiting, then that would be too good a slice of fortune to turn-down. 

I also find myself reflecting that Duchatelet's ownership has permanently damaged my life-long love affair with Charlton Athletic so things may never be the same again after he has finally shuffled off. Pretty sure I am not alone and that, ultimately, will be Duchatelet's legacy.


  1. I n arf glad you aint goin cos less face it the fans goin now support the team and yourn the exenophobe boo boys don't n we don't need yourn dahn our gaff atm. Look ow well ourn are doin withahrt your mob urlin abuse n insults at CAFC staff so iss so much better withahrt yourn. Less face it you want ourn to lose in any case n couldn't care less wot appens to results to stay away n go to some other gaff. The rest of us will carry on supportin King Roland who is doin a great job n keepin by appoint King Lee who is takin the club forwards unlike yourn with all your negative blogs who are takin it backwards. Also them players like Kermorgant and them others wanted to leave cos they ad better offers n ourn can't keep onto a player if they want to go to another club, juss ask their agents. Oh I forgot yourn don't do facts nahadays just insults.

  2. During the last 3 years I have attended more away games than in the previous 30 years. This is mainly due to not wanting to help fund RD's losses but let's face it The Valley has been a depressing place to visit - half full and negative vibes. I'm looking forward to joining the other 2400 Addicks at Peterborough in a couple of weeks in what is a crucial game.

  3. a2c - you really are as thick as you sound, aren't you.

  4. Tuesday - Nicki Ajose offloaded on loan with a view to a permanent move if he can actually prove his value at Mansfield Town. I don't count this as a big loss but plenty of time yet for Duchatelet to cash in some chips.

  5. It's definitely time to end the boycott. Just check the reasons why you boycotted in the first place against the current situation and you might find that the only item is RD's ownership, which is now almost sterile. In fact it could be argued that it has now become positive, given that all the "rubbish" that has been going on for the first 3 years has now gone and RD's involvement/Influence on football matters is now nil and he is bankrolling the club to the tune of £0.5m per month.

  6. Don't let a2c wind you up, his posts have always been garbage, trying to be funny with his "mockney", he's just a troll.
    You know I feel the same way that you do. To your last point, What will be most interesting to me is if he offloads some of the family silver this month


Go on, you know you want to....