BY RICHARD CAWLEY
The chances of Lee Bowyer leaving Charlton Athletic this month have increased – with a deadline of Friday for a new contract to be agreed.
If the Addicks cannot strike a deal by the end of this week then the highly-rated manager is able to leave for nothing.
And the South London Press understands that negotiations are only kicking off properly today – making it a race against time to put together an attractive package for the 42-year-old.
Bowyer has privately expressed his disappointment at how long it has taken for talks to start to earnest.
He flew away for a week-long family holiday in Dubai a couple of days after the League One play-off final win over Sunderland.
But Charlton made no attempt to kick off dialogue before the former midfielder jetted away. And there has been a complete lack of urgency about the issue since Bowyer returned to the UK last Tuesday.
Addicks owner Roland Duchatelet revealed last week that he had triggered a contract extension clause in the manager’s contract last month – but Bowyer has to sign off for it to be activated.
After subsequently gaining promotion to English football’s second tier the normal practise would be for an upgrade to the terms.
Quite why Duchatelet and Lieven De Turck, who has been fronting up the negotiations from the club side, did not also agree a deal in the event the SE7 outfit ended their three-year stay in League One is puzzling.
If Bowyer were to step down then it would be just the latest in a succession of damaging setbacks endured under Duchatelet.
It is now over a fortnight since Charlton won at Wembley, with only about the same period of time before the players are due to report back for pre-season training.
Charlton head of recruitment Steve Gallen revealed last week that transfer deals are bubbling away and it is thought that up to four could be close to completion.
But it is unlikely those moves can be rubber-stamped until Bowyer’s position is addressed.
Duchatelet has at least said that he wants the manager to stay – even if the club’s actions don’t make it seem like it is a matter of urgency.
“He has done a fantastic job and therefore talks about improving Lee’s contract are scheduled for next week,” said Duchatelet on Friday.
“Both the club and Lee want him to be the Charlton Athletic manager next season.
“Stability is essential, even if the club gets sold soon.”