TAXI FOR ROLANDProtesting Charlton fans determined to get absentee owner Roland Duchatelet out of their club are taking their message across the Channel emblazoned on a black cab.
To mark the Belgian businessman’s 70th birthday on Monday, the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) has had a traditional London taxi covered with many of the well-known visual images of the protests at The Valley over the last year. The cab will head a small convoy of vehicles carrying CARD activists on a three-day tour of Belgium, targeting locations that represent Duchatelet’s key interest areas of football, politics and business.The taxi will be on display behind the north stand at The Valley from 10.30am on Sunday and will then leave for Belgium following a brief service of remembrance outside the west stand at 11am.
A CARD spokesperson said: “We are taking the protests to Belgium in this unusual way to gain maximum exposure of Duchatelet's incompetence and destruction of our club in his home nation. It is intended to be engaging and non-threatening - but also embarrassing for him and chief executive Katrien Meire to have their disastrous regime laid bare before the Belgian public and media.”
Over the last week CARD has been unveiling a different birthday present for Duchatelet every day. These have been:
• A ticket for the Sheffield United match at The Valley on November 26th
• A map of SE London so he can find his way there after failing to attend a match for more than two years
• An alternative protest football shirt produced by fans
• A DVD with edited highlights of all the protests to date
• A pack of duck tape, which the millionaire once famously used to repair his shoes
• A black and white scarf – the club’s 1947 FA Cup final colours adopted by protesting fans
• A bumper pack of items thrown to interrupt matches at The Valley in 2016, including a beach ball, a stress ball and a little pink pig.
CARD plans to display all the birthday presents in the main square of Sint-Truiden, home to the Belgian club Duchatelet also owns, on Monday morning, his 70th birthday. It will also be handing out black and white beach balls and balloons to the local people, while explaining to them why we are protesting against Duchatelet’s regime. The DVD of the protests will be running on iPads to show the people the strength of feeling among thousands of Charlton fans of all ages. Later, the taxi and the protest group will “deliver” the presents to Duchatelet, together with a suitably worded birthday card and a petition calling on him to sell the club, at the KSTVV Stadion in Sint-Truiden, before moving on to further public destinations to be disclosed in due course.
CARD will be keeping fans and media informed of their progress by means of social media. The taxi and the protesters are due back at The Valley at around 5pm on Tuesday for a final photoshoot.The protest wrap will then remain on the taxi – owned and driven by a boycotting Charlton fan - for three months and thus will be seen on the streets of London in the busy Christmas and new year period.
CARD added: “The driver will be able to explain to his passengers what is going on at Charlton throughout this time. We intend to cause Duchatelet maximum embarrassment at home and abroad until he sells the club.”Note: The cost of branding the taxi and taking it to Belgium is being paid for by the Charlton protest fund from supporters' donations and fundraising. All CARD volunteers' and other vehicles' expenses are being met by the individuals involved.