BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Andrew Muir’s consortium are hoping this could finally be the week for their Charlton Athletic takeover to be completed.
The Australian multi-millionaire has been in negotiations to buy the South London club for months – with the final hurdle passing the EFL’s ‘fit and proper’ test.
Muir flew back into the UK over the weekend and sources close to the takeover bid have indicated they are looking to get the deal over the line so that planning can begin in earnest for the 2018-19 League One season.
A deal has been agreed with Roland Duchatelet, who is desperate to offload – especially with the Addicks facing another campaign in English football’s third tier.
If Charlton had been promoted via the play-offs, it could quite conceivably have opened the door to other bidders being attracted into the mix – especially with the cash-laden Premier League becoming an even more tangible target.
But now Duchatelet wants out. Season ticket sales are set to be low and he has not filled a raft of key positions – chairman, chief executive, finance officer and manager – as he waits to sell up.
Muir has brought together other investors and a five-year business plan is in place for the Addicks, detailing the spend needed over that period to try and get the club back into the top flight.
The takeover needs to happen soon for Charlton not to be left playing catch-up in terms of boosting their prospects of only facing a three-year stay in League One.
Muir’s consortium know that priority number one will be appointing a full-time manager. Lee Bowyer did the role in a caretaker capacity following the March exit of Karl Robinson.
Bowyer, who initially arrived in SE7 as assistant boss a year ago, has spelled out that he will only stay with the Addicks if he is given the top job.
Bowyer will definitely be on the shortlist for the interview process and it is also understood that their have been approaches from other interested parties.
The consortium also know Chris Powell would be a hugely popular appointment but the former England international is employed at Southend United – he was a free agent when they first began their talks to acquire Charlton.
The Muir-led group would buy the whole club – dismissing claims of Duchatelet leasing some of the land – and are keen to push ahead with developing the Sparrows Lane training ground and investing fully in an academy which has regularly supplied players to the first-team.