Richard Murray defends Charlton owner Roland Duchatelet

Roland Duchatelet
Roland Duchatelet has been Charlton Athletic owner since January 2014

Charlton director Richard Murray insists owner Roland Duchatelet is committed to the club but the Belgian has "underestimated" the Championship.

Fans protested against Duchatelet's ownership of the Addicks both before and after Saturday's draw against Nottingham Forest at The Valley.

"Through Roland's backing we have become financially stable," non-executive chairman Murray said.

"No owner wants to run down a football club - it defies logic."

Clarifying Duchatelet's goals

In a statement posted on the Charlton website, Murray said the club's strategy was to be financially stable, competitive in the Championship and have ambitions of reaching the Premier League.

However, Charlton fans have questioned Duchatelet's motives since his takeover of the club in January 2014; criticising the turnover of managers, the club's player recruitment and comments made by chief executive Katrien Meire.

Supporters were angered when a video emerged of Meire saying it was "weird" fans felt a sense of ownership of the club when "the bills are paid by someone else".

The Addicks are currently 23rd in the Championship, with inexperienced Belgian Karel Fraeye taking on the role of interim head coach since 24 October, when Guy Luzon was sacked.

Supporters 'want owners out'

Charlton fans have held protests directed at Duchatelet and Meire at recent home games, both from the stands and outside the boardroom at The Valley.

Saturday's protest was the largest yet and the Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust said Murray's statement does not address "the real issues that are prompting the protests".

Charlton fans protesting at The Valley
Charlton fans displayed a banner reading "Made in Charlton, destroyed by Belgians" on Saturday

They added: "The club's soft and pre-prepared answers are clearly designed to influence the media positively, but they are misdirecting readers about the truth of the current situation.

"It's fine that Murray admits the squad isn't good enough and that two years after Duchatelet took over the club is still underestimating the Championship.

"But it's somewhat indefensible - it's the result of the owner's plans and Katrien Meire's execution of them."

'No club gets all things right'

Murray defended Duchatelet's financial approach - pointing to a 40% increase in the playing budget, tying players to long-term contracts and investment in the stadium.

"Roland's philosophy is that we should try and keep our losses to a reasonable level," Murray added.

"The strategy is to have a mix of academy-produced players, young overseas talent with some experienced British players.

"This is a very competitive league and we have put a little too much faith in our overseas players to suddenly come in and play 46 games a year."

Murray also admits the club need to improve their communications with supporters.

"The board accepts it's not been as good as it could and they are taking a number of steps to improve that," he said.

"But it's important to realise that no football club gets all things right."

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