DODGY DEALS: THE GAME THAT NEARLY DIDN'T HAPPEN
Yesterday I watched as my beloved Charlton completed their crawl away from drama with a 1-0 win over Wigan Athletic.
In all honesty, it was a bit of a scrappy game that Wigan will have seen themselves unfortunate not to have taken something away from. A game with lots of fouls, interesting decisions and a bit of a fluke freekick, this game was quite a battle. What’s more impressive, by far, is that this game even occurred at all, as only a month ago, both clubs looked like they were going to cease to exist.
Both Charlton Athletic and Wigan Athletic have been through the mincer and both were threatened with expulsion. Wigan’s story was cruel. Their owner, who had inquired about the possibility of administration before buying a 51% stake in the club, decided to put the club into immediate administration last season. It made The Latics drop 123 points and basically secured relegation, though the team nearly did the impossible. There was no need for administration and it is alleged that this was done so that the owner could sort out some extreme gambling debts.
So down they went to League One. But it didn’t stop there, the club was gutted by the administrators, with lots of top talent moving away for near to nothing. It was a shame for a club that had been doing fairly well and had built carefully and had invested in infrastructure over the last few years, for all of this to be undone by one greedy businessman.
I am more familiar with the crazy story of Charlton Athletic and the near expulsion from League football that they survived over the summer after being sold to dodgy businessmen - many of whom were involved with the expulsion of Bury. I would go into more about how Roland Duchatelet took the club from the frying pan to the fire but that would take a series of articles in itself.
Luckily Charlton were saved by some savvy business from new owner Thomas Sandgaard and were able to invest in a squad after nearly a year stuck in a transfer embargo. This culminated in a new-look squad that faced Wigan.
Wigan themselves look to have turned a corner, with news of new owners in the pipeline and the squad able to pull together a decent looking team despite the best efforts of those behind the scenes.
What saved both these clubs was the hard work of those behind the scenes, working against the various snake-oil businessmen looking to profiteer and suck the cash from two strong community clubs. That and the veracity of the fans from both clubs and from other concerned teams that made themselves known to the wider footballing world.
If covid wasn’t around there would’ve been a joint protest against the EFL for their role in allowing such a thing to occur. Only last week David Baldwin announced his resignation as CEO from the EFL. His shoes will be needing to be filled by someone that can take on three threats to the EFL. The first being the selfishness of the EPL, the second being Covid and the third is these disaster capitalists that have taken advantage of many league clubs.
So it's poignant to remember that while we were watching, and in the case of Charlton fans, enjoying, the on-field antics. That it could’ve been so different and this game might’ve never have happened and there is still much to worry about in the EFL.