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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

Static turnover at Charlton but club under threat

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Charlton Athletic owner Roland Duchatelet is far from popular with fans of the South-East London club. Yesterday he authorised the sacking of the third manager from his European 'network', Guy Luzon. Charlton are currently in the relegation positions in the Championship.

Moreover, the club has a history of fan involvement and engagement which stemmed from the successful 'Back to the Valley' campaign.  Fans are unhappy about the distance of the present management from them.  There seems to be an emerging narrative that the club would be better rid of older fans who are perennial grumblers.   No doubt many of them are, and the club does have a problem with an ageing support base, but they are still a core element of the support.

In a prescient analysis in the latest edition of fanzine Voice of the Valley, editor Rick Everitt points to the growing threats to the club's support base, much of which is now located in Kent as fans moved out from the home boroughs of Bexley and Greenwich.   There has been concern that a resurgent West Ham United will attract fans from Kent to the Olympic Stadium given the availability of fast rail links.

However, Ramsgate resident Everitt says that 'right across the Addicks' catchment area, additional competiion for future loyalty is emerging ... So time is not on Charlton's side.'  He points to the success of Crystal Palace, the fact that Gillingham top League One, while Bromley and Dover Athletic 'have been performing impressively two divisions further down.'

'Ebbsfleet United are likely to reach that level next season and have both the financial muscle and in-house expertise to push for the Football League.   Reborn Maidstone United are not far behind them. Even their sixth-tier rivals Margate have a wealthy and ambitious owner hungry to create a more senior club in East Kent.'

The management of the club sought to defend their position in yesterday's programme for the game against Brentford.  It is noted in the first 20 months of Belgian ownership the club has received £21.2m in funds.  This is made up of £8.6m in player acquisitions, £2.4m in infrastructure (such as renewing the pich which was in a bad way), £4.1m in external loan repayments and £6.1m to fund operating losses. Like almost all Championship clubs, Charlton is losing money, although not as much as some.

Rick Everitt has responded in a tweet that these figures are somewhat disingenuous as the £8.6m spent on player acquistions does not take account of the fees received for Joe Gomez, Yann Kermorgant and other players.  Indeed, the sale of Gomez to Liverpool boosted income from player trading to £4.4m in 2014-15, compared with £1.7m in the preceding financiall year.

There will be further investment in the next 18 months, in particular £12m on the training ground with the Academy seen as key to the club's future.

The financial results show turnover broadly static over the last three years in the £10.7m to £11.6m range.  Special factors in 2013-14 gave it a boost, in particular £0.9m from a run to the FA Cup quarter finals.

Football costs increased by £0.9m primarily due to higher wages.   Football costs are not far short of 100 per cent of turnover, nearly twice the level recommended by accountants Deloitte, although such a high level is not unusual in the Championship.   It is noted that higher wage costs 'is to be expected given the better quality of [the] starting eleven in the 14/15 season'.   This quality has not been evident in performances on the pitch.

The club has driven down non-football costs by £1.7m, due to 'various efficiencies'.   Chief executive Kartrien Meire took great pride in a recent interview in having withdrawn free cups of tea and coffee, implying these were available to all fans.   In fact they were only available to those fans who had paid a premium price in the lounges.

The bottom line loss for 2014-15 is £3.8m.   This allows the club to claim that it is operating with financial prudence, given that average retained losses in the Championship in the preceding year were £10m.   It's a hard league to get out of and an easy one to slip out of which may be Charlton's fate.

Nail on head

 

Thanks Wyn, very clear and informative. And a helpful update for those of us like myself not attending  the Valley currently, unwilling to fund player wages especially while the Belgian experiment (whatever that is) continues.