Attention: Please take a moment to consider our terms and conditions before posting.

New Article: Roland Duchatelet - fact or fiction?

As we wait impatiently to find out whether this latest takeover alert turns out finally to be fact or yet more fiction, I thought it would be useful to summarise what we do know for certain about Mr Duchatelet. Whilst not quite following BBC principles of two independent sources to corroborate every fact, I have tried to look a bit beyond instant claims, Google Translate and Wikipedia. Understanding both Dutch and French hopefully qualifies me a little to get under the skin of this Belgian gentleman.

I was once told, by someone from that country, that there is no such thing as a Belgian – you are either Flemish (speaking a dialect of Dutch) or Walloon (speaking French). And rarely shall the twain meet. The name Duchatelet sounds more French, whilst Roland is a common first name in both languages. In articles he is sometimes described as a Flemish businessman, and in a Youtube profile of him as a politician he speaks fluent Dutch. However, his French sounds just as good in an end of season Standard Liege press conference. So maybe he is that rare specimen – a genuine Belgian?

Aged 67, he is a family man, married for more than 17 years to his second wife, Marieke, with whom he has two teenage daughters. He has four further offspring from his first marriage, two sons and two daughters, now in their thirties, and several grandchildren. The family home is in Sint Truiden, also the base of the first club he owned, of which he was president from 2003 until he had to step down on taking over Standard Liege. He enjoys DIY, helps out with the cleaning at home, plays tennis, has a swimming pool and thinks it is rude of people to contact him out of business hours on his mobile phone – preferring email.

He has made his money principally through electrical engineering, building up an empire of companies. He founded one of the most successful, Melexis, which makes sensors for cars – like the ones that turn your lights on in the rain and make the windscreen wipers go faster or slower without you lifting a finger. He employs 5,000 worldwide, including 500 in Belgium. His net worth is about half a billion Euros, but I imagine much of that is tied up in the value of the companies – it seems he had to make a few disposals to raise the cash to buy Standard Liege.

I am no expert on Belgian politics, so will stick to the facts here. Initially he backed a new party called Banaan (yes, it is Dutch for banana) – with the principle, “Better to look for alternatives than do nothing.” He then founded his own party, Vivant, in the mid 90s, which later merged with the Flemish Liberal Democrats (VLD) to become Open VLD. He was a senator from 2007 – 2010, proud to serve his country during difficult economic times. He believes in sustainable global development and a living basic wage.

He’s written a couple of books along the way, one in 1994 and one in 2004, so perhaps he’s busy working on another for next year – but don’t expect blockbusters with titles such as ‘Belgium PLC, a report to shareholders’ and ‘The road to more net domestic happiness’. If you are really curious, there’s a used copy of the former available on Amazon – for a meagre £899!

He comes across on Youtube clips (well, if it was good enough for Pardew...) as a calm, self-assured and thoughtful individual. He is not afraid of controversy, though, especially in the realm of football. He has proposed that the Belgian league should merge with the Dutch to become a more attractive TV proposition, and he may think he has the answer to The Valley’s pitch problems – he introduced artificial grass at Sint Truiden in 2011, saying, “Laying an artificial grass surface offers numerous advantages. First of all a FIFA 2STAR approved artificial grass surface has the same technical playing properties as an ideal natural grass pitch. You can also play the whole year through on an artificial grass surface. Football days can be organised on artificial grass, with in the afternoons women or young people playing and the first-division team in the evening. That isn't possible on a natural grass pitch: it would just be played to ruin. Finally, an artificial grass pitch can be played on in all weather conditions. There are no water logging problems with artificial grass. The water is drained away perfectly so the pitch can always be played on.”

His takeover of Standard Liege was a surprise and his arrival was followed by a lot of upheaval, with players sold. The previous manager had already resigned before the takeover. The first manager appointed by Duchatelet, Jose Riga, lasted one season, and the next one, Dutchman Ron Jans, just six months. Former player Romanian Mircea Rednic followed, and took Standard into the Europa League, but was then sacked at the end of the season, and claims Duchatelet wanted a puppet not a coach. The current coach is former Israeli U21 manager, Guy Luzon, who has taken them to the top of the league in his first season. So it has not been a smooth ride. There was still unrest this summer, with 5,000 fans breaking into the stadium to demonstrate at the AGM, accusing Duchatelet of taking money out of the club for personal use. He called their bluff in an interview in which he said he would not tolerate violence and would step down provided 90% of the clubs sponsors (a major income stream) approved of whoever became the new shareholders. Things seem to have calmed down, and there is certainly support for him too on message boards, so perhaps our somewhat controversial new Lawrie Wilson song lyrics might even apply in this case?

Just two weeks ago our potential new owner bought Carl Zeiss Jena, former European Cup Winners Cup winners in 1981 now languishing in the German fourth division, for just 2M Euros. In October 2011 his elder son, Roderick, took control of Hungarian sleeping giants Ujpest – who famously won nine championships in 11 years in the 1970s. They have always had a reputation for developing young players, and, after flirting with relegation in 2011/12, are now more stable financially and in mid-table. The new owner appointed a Belgian coach in July 2012, but he left after a 6-0 defeat in March 2013, and the current manager is Hungarian.

So make of this and Roland Duchatelet what you will – only time will tell – but he’s a bit easier to research than a certain Mr Jiminez!
«13

Comments

  • Fascinating insight, Thanks Weegie. I feel i already know more about this man than Slater, Jimenez and Cash combined and I'm sure that's no bad thing.
  • ^^^^^ this ...
  • interesting stuff Weegie. Thanks.
  • Excellent stuff Weegs, many thanks.
  • Fantastic post Weegie
  • I also been told by my Liege supporting friend he isn't with us for the long run, Simply to make a quick buck.

    Clear our poor fiances and get us in the green, Invest in the squad and get us hopefully in the top 10 of the championship aiming for promotion for the premier league, Then sell for a profit.

    Weather things shall work out like this we shall see. But Liege are his main focus. That's for sure
  • Wow ! You've been a busy girl, Weegie !

    Well done.
  • I bet Paddy Powell's not pleased.
  • I also been told by my Liege supporting friend he isn't with us for the long run, Simply to make a quick buck.

    Clear our poor fiances and get us in the green, Invest in the squad and get us hopefully in the top 10 of the championship aiming for promotion for the premier league, Then sell for a profit.

    Weather things shall work out like this we shall see. But Liege are his main focus. That's for sure

    well, he would say that wouldn't he, fear of a new favourite perhaps?

    It's Charlton, impossible not to fall in love...
  • Good sleuthing Weegie. Very interesting.
  • Sponsored links:


  • I think this still has a long way to run - as with other rumours, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Good to dream but.... He has a habit of changing managers, doesn't invest loads and loads plus Liege will be his main interest as it brings CL exposure and income. Who knows whether it's better or not, although , I believe we'd be more stable and can rejuvenate our squad.... Let's calm down a bit and hold our breath for a bit.
  • As he believes in a living basic wage, will it be football for a fiver all the time?
  • edited December 2013
    Thanks for the comments, everyone. I enjoyed researching and writing it - could probably have dug a bit deeper, and might yet, but Mr W wanted his dinner!

    The thing that still puzzles me a bit is whether RD and family have any ongoing interest in Sint Truiden football club - reports suggested that he had to give that up when he bought Standard, and there is no mention of him or other family members under the directors on the club's website, so I am presuming that is in the past now. Open to being corrected, though!

    Further footnote- his current wife might better be described as partner - not sure if they are married. Marieke is Dutch and works in marketing. A few years ago she took over the shares in Sint Truiden when RD was elected as a local politician to solve conflict issues...or get round the rules...Also think some of the more personal info in paragraph three is from an article a few years ago, so his children are a bit older than stated there.

    Also came across a quote by RD about the beautiful game, "Football fascinates me, because it is socially relevant. It is a place where all grades, classes, races and beliefs unite. All over the world you see football fanaticism. In the light of the world's problems, it is almost idiotic to be happy about a nice victory for Standard, but in the microcosm of football it makes me very happy."
  • He sounds like a very thoughtful and socially aware person. Hope he is equally adept at communicating with the fans who form the social fabric of the club.
  • well done weegie
  • Nothing in the red tops about Lady Duchatelet's lover ?
  • Belgian women don't often change their surname in marriage that might just be flemish women but its what I've been told by a few Belgians. And belgians are notoriously awful with money, always relying on the government/eu to get them (as individuals not as a nation) out of the cack
  • Thanks for the insightful post Weeg.
  • Roland Duchatelet

    rearrange the letters

    =

    Le Chaarltton Dude

    Le dude at Charlton

  • Sponsored links:


  • Weegie

    Brilliant work, fascinating info.

    Regarding Sint Truiden, SHG says a Belgian guy posted on ITTV that he got round the rule by "giving it to his woman" . But you say there's no sign of his current partners name there, so...one for later
  • Excellent work,Weegie.
    I'm starting to feel a little bit worried about the fact that he has changed the manager three times since he took over in 2011.That's four managers in just three years' time....
  • Im just looking forward to a beer and waffles at HT
  • I also been told by my Liege supporting friend he isn't with us for the long run, Simply to make a quick buck.

    Clear our poor fiances and get us in the green, Invest in the squad and get us hopefully in the top 10 of the championship aiming for promotion for the premier league, Then sell for a profit.

    Weather things shall work out like this we shall see. But Liege are his main focus. That's for sure

    For me, the most interesting thing in this useful synopsis is the guy's age: it rather indicates that he won't be "with us for the long run"!
  • edited December 2013
    He has the same view as me in regards to artificial pitches and leans to the left. I like.
  • I was reading about his attempts to form a political party - Vivant. It all struck me as totally unrealistic and I concluded that he is either a naive lefty who remained lodged in the Paris 1968 idealism, or he is a megalomaniac. Interestingly a lot of commentators seem to remain puzzled about his intentions. There's a lot of scope for conspiracy theorists!
  • edited December 2013

    I was reading about his attempts to form a political party - Vivant. It all struck me as totally unrealistic and I concluded that he is either a naive lefty who remained lodged in the Paris 1968 idealism, or he is a megalomaniac. Interestingly a lot of commentators seem to remain puzzled about his intentions. There's a lot of scope for conspiracy theorists!

    Didn't he form Vivant and then successfully get elected senator for the next 15 years though ?

    Belgian politics is all over the place, don't blame someone for trying todo something.
  • Reading that I fear for chris powell.

    With his contract situation he can be easily paid off and they can get their own bloke in.
  • Reading that I fear for chris powell.

    With his contract situation he can be easily paid off and they can get their own bloke in.

    I think if the general consensus, with the board and fans, is that CP is doing well, I think they won't sack him.

    In light of the events at Cardiff, I don't think he will want to get off an awful start.

    I believe CP will be here until the summer, at least, unless results deteriorate badly.
  • se9addick said:

    I was reading about his attempts to form a political party - Vivant. It all struck me as totally unrealistic and I concluded that he is either a naive lefty who remained lodged in the Paris 1968 idealism, or he is a megalomaniac. Interestingly a lot of commentators seem to remain puzzled about his intentions. There's a lot of scope for conspiracy theorists!

    Didn't he form Vivant and then successfully get elected senator for the next 15 years though ?

    Belgian politics is all over the place, don't blame someone for trying todo something.
    I think I was being a bit tongue in cheek. Belgium does indeed have problems, two competing languages and a rich north that is fed up with subsidising what it sees a wasteful South. I'm not blaming him at all. Anyone who tries to draw together a progressive middle left coalition is to be be applauded. But his views seem to be at odds with his business style which is what has attracted some interest in Belgium.
Sign In or Register to comment.

Roland Out!