Charlton fans protesting against the relegated club’s owner Roland Duchatelet and chief executive Katrien Meire have pledged not to disrupt the team’s opening matches in League One this season, but vowed to continue their campaign against the regime.
The Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) staged a series of interventions in the closing months of last season, interrupting play on multiple occasions by throwing beach balls and other soft items onto the pitch.
It also organised a series of protests outside the stadium, involving thousands of Charlton supporters angry at the way the club has been run since the current owner took control in early 2014.
Russell Slade became Duchatelet’s sixth managerial appointment over the summer, while the club continues to see a huge turnover of players. Duchatelet himself has not attended a home match since October 2014. And around half of last year’s season-ticket holders have so far failed to renew, leaving the club with its lowest season-ticket sales for two decades.
A CARD spokesperson said: “While we welcome Russell Slade’s appointment, we have seen a number of false dawns under Duchatelet already and can have no confidence that Slade or any other manager will be allowed to succeed while Katrien Meire remains as chief executive, in particular. We also see failings on the pitch as a symptom of a much deeper problem, and therefore our campaign will continue regardless.
“However, we do recognise that there is a risk that disrupting games to protest at the very start of Slade’s tenure and of a new season without seeing how things unfold could be seen to be destructive of itself. As fans, we all want the team to succeed and that will always inform our actions. Unlike the club we have also listened to the views of Charlton supporters generally, and there is a quite reasonable desire to give Slade a fair wind. Therefore we are making it clear at this stage that we do not plan to disrupt any of the club’s League One or League Cup matches in August.
“This should not give the administration any comfort. We have shown what we can do and this does not mean there will be no protests of any kind, simply that we will not seek to interfere with the matches themselves. We can and will embarrass the regime time and again this season. We will review the overall position and our tactics again in September, part of which process will involve listening to the views of our hundreds of volunteers and activists on the best way forward."
CARD has also declared its intention to oppose the imposition of extra charges to use the club’s ticket office, with a new £2.50 fee for buying in person and a £3 increase in adult and senior concession prices on a matchday.
The club already turns away personal callers wanting to buy tickets on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The spokesperson added: “We are not aware of any other professional football club in the country that will not serve supporters at its ground during normal business hours and the £2.50 punishment charge at the window also appears to be unique - and indeed weird.
“These charges are symptomatic of the incompetent approach of the club’s administration and coupled with its confusing and inadequate online booking facility are only likely to damage Charlton further.”
CARD does not support any protests that involve xenophobia or misogyny and does not encourage or endorse the throwing of flares and smoke bombs in any context. It will continue to liaise closely with the Metropolitan Police this season in the interests of public safety.