Monday 22 January 2018

Two things Roland

After a rare weekend of relative satisfaction on the Charlton-supporting front - Richard Murray shared what he could in terms of the takeover as well as likely activity during the January transfer window and we won again at home - there are two points that I am left reflecting on and Roland Duchatelet would do well to consider more seriously than he may be appear to be doing.

1. Chances of Promotion

Richard Murray stated the bleedin' obvious in that the club would be worth more in the Championship than as a League One side. This was trotted out as part of the discussion about timing of a sale and, possibly, in response to a question about his commitment to the success of the side during a sale - maybe both. We aren't party to a transcript of the conservation but both topics were covered and Richard made this point. The inference was that Roland may choose to wait three months post-January to see if he can command a Championship price for the club. There was an apparent contradiction in a related point Murray made and that was that Roland doesn't want to be holding the baby come August when he will head into another season of operating losses (c £7m) which effectively increases the price Roland needs to break even and would lower the value of the club to any sane buyer.

The point about Duchatelet's commitment to the success of the side during a sale was clearly around his refusal thus far to sanction any significant strengthening of the side following Holmes sale and the decision to take cash instead of a part-exchange for Carruthers. Richard tried to convince us that he believes Roland will support incoming player deals if Richard pushes the point but I think he failed in convincing his audience at large that there is any realistic chance of this beyond robbing Peter to pay Paul.

That leaves the irony of a man clinging to the prospect of potentially maximising his sale of the club by millions based on a possible play-off promotion but refusing to spend a smaller part of what he might recoup this month to help achieve it. I am reminded of the person who would love to win the lottery but never buys a ticket.

2. Sale Price of the Club

This wasn't covered in the summary and it may be that the Trust knew it was probably pointless asking it, given confidentiality and ongoing negotiations. However, the figure of £55m has been rumoured by more than one party supposedly in the know and the sum fits closely with the idea that Roland's game plan has always been to pile the running costs of the club onto the existing debt and to recover that as a minimum sale price. 

Any notion of the club being worth treble what he paid for it (including debt) given his disastrous period of ownership is laughable. The club has been reduced from a stable Championship side to a League One outfit and the relationship with it's supporters is at a historic low-point with season tickets at giveaway prices and merchandising, hospitality and advertising revenues stunted. Personally, I can't see any reason why it would be worth any more than he paid for it (£18m?) and the hot rumour is no-one will pay much more than half of Duchatelet's asking price in any event.

Richard Murray made the point well that an interested investor will have to have funds to cover two years losses (£14m) but that they will typically have a five year plan to make the purchase a success and that short-term timescales, like missing a transfer window, aren't serious concerns on that timeline. Similarly, if a price cannot be agreed and Roland holds on to determine which division we will be playing in next season, the tide will turn from a Sellers to a Buyers market if we aren't promoted.

There is also a debate about Duchatelet constructing a sale whereby he gets what he wants for the club but over a period of time as and when the debt can be repaid based upon the idea that we become very successful and reach the PL. Why would any buyer agree to share their possible future success with Roland? He wouldn't construct a deal to underwrite future losses so why would anyone give him money in future over and above what the club was worth at the point of sale?

In summary, I see very little chance that the side will be strengthened during January and that we will be overtaken by at least one other club to finish just outside the play-off positions. Duchatelet will have to face the dilemma of either trying to grow the value of the club himself by actually running it properly and investing heavily or having to take the best price he can get for the club. He clearly isn't interested in the first option so sadly for him, that is likely to result in a significant and humiliating loss for him which, frankly, is the only to be expected given the way this club has been run for four years under Duchatelet (and Meire). 

Using the house-buying analogy we all love, when you have your house valued and all the estimates are close, it's pretty pointless trying to flog it for twice what it's worth. Not even I believe Duchatelet is thick enough not to have to see logic and cut a deal.

1 comment:

  1. Sciurus Carolinensis Nemesis22 January 2018 at 16:28

    "...Not even I believe Duchatelet is thick enough..."

    That is such a generous sentiment, Dave, it does you enormous credit but, sadly, flies in the face of the mountain of evidence piled up over the last 4 years. There is not one atom of evidence to support any notion of roly "seeing sense", "cutting his losses". For him, either is admission of defeat.
    He's repeated often 'he knows business, huh'. I desperately wanna believe that he'll have a moment of clarity but now I can't conceive the scale of the trauma required to shift him on this. Devastating trauma of some kind there will have to be.
    I'm sure he'd sell at a price but that price is so many multiples of anything earthbound that the buyer would have to be psychologically unfit for the purpose.


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