Roland Duchatelet needs to sell Charlton Athletic – and before the end of month – if the Addicks are to achieve a top-six finish in League One.
The team currently occupy the final play-off place following back-to-back wins against Oldham and then away at Bury. But those wins came after a torrid end to 2017 which saw their grasp on the play-off positions weakened.
Before their win against the Latics on January 6th, Charlton had collected just three points from a possible 24, losing six times in a damaging run from the end of November.
Following their 2-1 victory over Rochdale at The Valley on November 21st Karl Robinson’s men sat fourth in the table, just five points off the automatic promotion places.
But now they find themselves in a battle just to ensure they are in the play-offs mix at the end of the season.
Duchatelet needs to do a deal
CEO Katrien Meire left the club last month to take up a similar role at Sheffield Wednesday.
As Duchatelet’s right-hand woman, fans disliked her almost as much as their Belgian owner, whose four-year tenure has been hugely unpopular among the Valley faithful.
Reports suggested he was upset about Meire’s departure and ready to cut his losses and move on.
But whilst he plays hard ball over his asking price for the former Premier League outfit, he is significantly damaging their prospects of success.
With the club up for sale, Duchatelet is refusing to sanction spending during the January transfer window.
However, he was happy to see 2016-17 player of the season Ricky Holmes – who has scored six goals so far – sold to Sheffield United for around £400,000, while blocking a move by Samir Curruthers in the other direction.
So Charlton lose one of their best players and aren’t allowed to buy a replacement, even as their promotion rivals are strengthening their squads.
Robinson has already stated he had four or five targets who were ready to sign in SE7 but deterred by Charlton’s current situation.
That’s why Duchatelet must sell quickly if a new owner is to come in and fund the deals Robinson needs to strengthen his side.
If they don’t, then Charlton will struggle to gain promotion and be doomed to spending at least another season in the third tier.
Injuries and slump
A succession of injuries was a major factor in Charlton’s mid-season slump. First teamers Holmes, Jason Pearce, Tariqe Fosu, Ahmed Kashi, Mark Marshall, Jake Forster-Caskey and Patrick Bauer, amongst others, have all been injured at various stages.
Lewis Page, Leon Best and Billy Clarke are all sidelined for the remainder of the campaign, leaving Robinson with a huge headache.
Manchester City managed Pep Guardiola recently bemoaned having a couple of injuries in his star-studded title-chasing squad, so imagine how hard it must have been for Robinson.
No club would have been able to keep up a viable promotion challenge while dealing with that kind of mid-season injury crisis.
That is why January is so important for former MK Dons boss Robinson – it gives him a chance to bolster a squad already stretched to the limits.
The only issue with that is that he can’t – at least surely not in a way that will significantly impact on his team’s fortunes.
Yes, Charlton have managed to bring in Stephy Mavididi on loan from Arsenal, with the 19-year-old striker scoring the winner on his debut against Oldham.
But they can’t bring in anyone in permanently whilst Duchatelet is pursuing the sale of the club, as he won’t agree to finance it.
Reports have suggested that an Australian-based consortium, as well as a group of British buyers, are interested in taking over from him at the Valley.
For Charlton’s long-suffering supporters, any deal that sees Duchatelet cutting his ties with the South London club can’t come a moment too soon…
Feature image courtesy of adam.webb2 via Flickr Creative Commons.