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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

Are feeder clubs the wave of the future?


Many Charlton fans were upset yesterday at the replacement of their popular manager Chris Powell by a Belgian coach, although in some cases that was tempered by the realisation that football remains a results business.

There was also resentment at the conversion of Charlton in what is perceived to be a feeder club for the Belgian Pro league leaders, Standard Liege. However, given the state of football finances and the difficulty of achieving success without a wealthy benefactor, could that be the way ahead for smaller clubs? Are Charlton ahead of the curve?

Another Charlton fan has written about the positive case for being a feeder club:

'Manchester United and Chelsea both use Belgian clubs as training clubs. If we are to be a proving ground for SL players this is not a lot different. There is no reason why the feeder system should not operate both ways.

'I do not think that the concept of being a proving round is necessarily an indication that things will take a turn for the worse. If SL prosper, as we have to hope they will in the circumstances, it is likely to result in their attracting ever better young players that will be loaned to us for development.

'The Belgian teams working with MU and Chelsea are stronger for the loans and it is perfectly conceivable that within a short period we will also be receiving quality players on loan to work with our own home-grown talent. The chance to have a strong squad with little need to buy in has a lot of attraction to me and the owner's idea of running without loss becomes perfectly realistic.

'The only downside is that the best players will always be cherry-picked during transfer windows, but I see nothing in this scenario to prevent us becoming a decent Premiership club once the system starts to work as every cherry-picked player will be replaced by a decent replacement in the ideal scenario. [Possibly this is a little too optimistic].

Part of that scenario requires the management of feeder clubs to give playing time to youngsters that have been sent over for development. The rumours suggest that [Chris] Powell was not prepared to be told who should be playing, but although that goes to his credit for his principles it does suggest a certain failure to recognise the reality of the motive behind the takeover and when has had a chance to reflect it may be that he may feel he could have handled it better.

'If the owner has a bought a club as part of a plan he is entitled to require that the manager, as an employee, buy into that plan. If that means that he be required to accommodate certain players then so be it.I am sure there will be disagreement but I do not see that the owner is totally in the wrong here.'


To build on the article about the role of feeder clubs we need to recognise certain circumstances:

-  any selling club, e.g. Charlton, has effectively been an informal feeder club for years.  The most extreme example was the sale of Scott Parker at a time Charlton were in a Champoins League, place half way through the season.

-    Charlton fans who fear players of 'Champions League quality' will be sold to Standard Liege at the first opportunity have a romantic view. Unless Charlton reach a regular top half Premier League place, then players who do show that sort of quality will be snapped up by higher placed clubs anyway, regardless of ownership. 

-  the Man Utd/Belgian relationships are between two separately owned entities, and presumably have contractual relationships that have a time limit and/or a break clause.

-  the process of player recruitment being out of the hands of the manager/coach is hardly new in the UK, and one can imagine at different clubs (largely those with foreign owners) this operates on a range of bases from close liaison/veto of the manager on players being delivered each window with whom the manager has to work.

-  the Duchatelet model of owning a stable of clubs adds a further level of control and suggests there is some form of 'management committee' that will decide on the allocation of resources, with questionable concern for the impact on the lower ranked/valued clubs in the group. 

In reality, it is debatable whether, in say two years time, the casual observer will notice any substantial difference in operations across the Duchatelet empire from many other internationally run clubs in England. 

The fear is of clinical loan moves, for example if Diego Poyet's development continues apace, how long before he is loaned to, say, Duchatelet's Spanish club, to help 'improve his overall game'. 

For Charlton fans it is certainly a time of upheaval and uncertainty, and relegation looms.  There does not seem to be much reason for optimism, but in truth, we just don't know!

Feeder Club

You bet as a Charlton fan I'm upset at becoming a feeder club!  

What an insult!  Charlton presently have a crop of decent acadamy players who could benefit Charlton either by playing for us or by grossing the club millions of pounds on the open market.  With the coffers filling up a decent manager (like Chris Powell) could then target replacements from the World market place.  As it stands we have had some pretty lightweight players arrive from Standard Liege and a couple of others from within the 'network' - Ujest Kickabal - what a joke!  

Administraters within the game talk about players progressing - but that aint going to happen if there is no club to develop in.  Not all football fans are mugs - why pay good money to develop players for the financial gain of a millionaire owner and his first love Standard Liege?  Charlton have a successful scheme called Valley Gold where fans pay £10 a month to develop youth players for our benefit - this may as well be renamed Standard Liege Gold! Yeah good luck.

While the so called 'experts' ponder the good of the game it seems to me the football dream is being wrenched from the supporters.  There are countless stories of clubs rising from the ashes to punch above their weight - we even have our own story at Charlton.  When that dream is removed you may as well give up.  I'd rather be hard up and happy than enslaved to a businessman's plaything network. Believe me Duchelet is a danger to football and I'm astonished that he has been allowed to enter the Championship league with the game plan he has.  It is a disgrace.

My new dream is for Duchelet to bore of this project, pack his bags and go back to producing micro chips - he clearly knows nothing about football

Raith C Chattonell (Irate Fan) 

RIP Charlton Athletic