Name: Charlton Athletic Football Club
Nickname(s): The Addicks, Red Robins, The Valiants
Stadium: The Valley
Distance: 127 miles from Bristol.
Last season: 22nd in the Championship (relegated).
In the Premier League as recently as 2006, Charlton Athletic are another big club that The Gas will find themselves up against next season in League One.
Charlton have been marred by off-the-field issues for a number of years. Back in 2008, the club recorded a net loss of over £13-million for that financial year, an unstable position that was reflected upon the pitch, as they found themselves relegated to League One for the 2009-2010 season.
It took until the appointment of Chris Powell back in January 2011 to turn their fortunes around, and after a busy summer recruiting 19 new players in 2011, The Addicks returned to the Championship as League One champions. Powell’s side also set a new club record, breaking their highest ever league points score of 101, which was also the highest of any European league club that year.
Powell and his team continued to progress, and in their first season back in the Championship, they finished in 9th place – only 3 points short of the play-off places to the premier league. A promising position to finish in upon their return to the second tier, which saw fans optimistic for a promotion push the following year.
Belgian businessman Roland Duchâtelet became the new owner of the club, and began his ownership by recruiting several players from Standard Liege, another club he owned. And the owner did not shy away from making big decisions, as Powell was sacked 2 months later, with the club sitting at the bottom of the table in March 2014.
Duchâtelet began to put his stamp on Charlton with his choice of replacement, as Belgian José Riga was appointed as Powell’s successor. Though the transfer window was closed, Riga managed to steer the club clear of relegation in his first few months in charge. A glimmer of hope for the Addicks fans, though they saw their manager depart over the summer, to join Blackpool.
The 2014-2015 season saw more upheaval at the club with the arrival of Bob Peeters as manager, and though they started the season well, Riga’s successor was dismissed by January – with the club sitting in 14th. Israeli Guy Luzon took the reins to see the remainder of the season out, and they finished in a respectable 12th.
That brings us to last season, one that the Charlton fans will certainly be hoping to forget. Though the aforementioned Guy Luzon remained in his post, he found himself sacked by October. The manager’s job at Charlton was beginning to look a poisoned chalice, much to the supporters’ dismay. A flying visit from Karel Fraeye as head coach saw him sacked after just 14 games, in January, with Charlton sat 2nd bottom of the Championship.
The managerial merry-go-round left supporters angry, and a number of organised protest groups began to form at The Valley. Fans citing their owner, Roland Duchâtelet, as the root of their problems began to put pressure on the club with the aim of forcing the owners out. Fans vented their anger at games, staging protests such as ‘Voice of The Valley’, in what quite quickly became an incredibly negative atmosphere at the club.
The club appointed previous manager José Riga in a bid to survive the drop, but it wasn’t to be. The fans’ fears were realised as the club dropped to League One – Riga resigning at the end of the season.
For next season, there will be only one goal for Charlton Athletic – return to The Championship. But with such uncertainty surrounding the club, and unwanted media attention sure to be focused upon them, their next manager will have a tough task on his hands.
The then manager of Northampton Town Chris Wilder was offered the managers position, but opted to turn it down in favour of Sheffield United. A blow which has done little to reassure fans that the ownership is capable of uniting, and stopping the rot at, the club. A hard summer is ahead, and if they do not come out fighting, the supporters are unlikely to show much patience.