BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Charlton’s Belgian owner Roland Duchatelet has called for foreign investors to stay away from English football – and has said he should be left alone by protesters.
The electronics tycoon has also implied he is ready to give the club away for “free,” so long as any new investor pays for the land that the club owns.
The unpopular Belgian, who has been looking to offload the South Londoners for well over a year without any tangible signs of progress, was reacting after some properties he owns in his home town of Sint Truiden were vandalised with Addicks-related graffiti.
“Many buildings and private houses of people have been damaged by this graffiti,” Duchatelet told talkSPORT.
“I think the problem is, the whole system in my mind in England with football is wrong. They should not invite people like myself to become owners of clubs like Charlton or of any other clubs by the way. Because in fact I do spend maybe two per cent of my time on Charlton, I have so many other things to do. I’m not the only one, an owner of a big club, who doesn’t have the time to take care of this.
“I didn’t know [when I purchased the club] it was going to be the case. That’s the reason why I believe that the EFL shouldn’t sell clubs to foreign owners who do not know this kind of thing can happen. For my life it’s been a major mistake to do that. It’s annoying it. It’s not nice. I think it’s totally wrong that foreign people get involved with football.
“The thing that happened is that my press people were very wrong at the time in managing the situation. That’s the main thing I can say. So in that sense the thing is you cannot control everything. Every club makes mistakes, every manager makes mistakes. So that’s not the problem. The problem is that the situation is just not healthy. It’s just not healthy this approach. I don’t think that foreign owners who have a lot of money should be involved in English football. They should leave these people alone. Leave me alone that’s what I say. I didn’t ask for this. I wanted to have a nice club. The thing is it’s not the fans in general, it’s just a few fans. I don’t know how many. There were two who did [the graffiti] now. Two people. It could be fans I’m not sure. They were pretending in any case.”
Duchatelet has so far failed to complete his sale of the club to an Australian consortium and claims that a protest by supporters over six months ago has hindered his progress.
“In my mind what is happening, due to the protests that happened in August, certainly that has put off to some extent some of the people what would have been in the investor club. Due to this they will probably put themselves in my shoes and say when we are the owners what is the likelihood they will do the same to me.
“We had an agreement since February. There was an agreement between both parties on the economics. We made agreements, we invested another one hundred thousand or more in legal fees to make the agreements. They just had to submit the agreement to the EFL and then the deal was done.
“We give the club for free. In addition they get another 20 million if you just look at the value of the land and buildings. The value of the land and the building is so high. It’s not very high comparatively to what you have to pay in London. The real estate, the building and the land, that’s what they have to pay to some extent. Not completely, but to some extent.
“The basis of the way this system works in England is not healthy for foreign investors. That is my main concern. Where I am a foreign investor, why would I want to bring another foreign investor into this mess? That is not my mentality. I am against that.”