Charlton fans are optimistic a takeover could rescue the club from the troubled reign of the current owner.

Speculation has been mounting over an Australian consortium making a takeover bid for the south London side, who currently sit 16th in League One – five points off the relegation zone.

Owner Roland Duchatelet has been in charge at The Valley since buying the club in January 2014, with the three years since his arrival beset by manager sackings, fan protests and plummeting attendances.

The club have been through nine different managers in Duchatelet's time at the helm, including Jose Riga twice, plus two caretaker bosses, and have gone dangerously close to slipping into the fourth tier of English football.

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Fans have also been critical of chief executive Katrien Meire, who has gone to war with supporters when she complained some were committing "criminal offences" when they sent her abuse and visited her village in Belgium.

A petition delivered to acting chairman of the FA, David Gill, last August, with nearly 4,000 signatures, called for Meire to be removed.

Australian Football Consortium Ltd (AFC) are reportedly attempting to raise the capital necessary to buy out the Belgian, who holds 100 per cent of the shares via his holding company Staprix NV.

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AFC, who have their sights on making Charlton the breeding ground for talent from Down Under, have undertaken initial due diligence with plans to turn Karl Robinson's side into "Australia's football club".

Former Fulham and Chelsea goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer has reportedly been brought on board with the consortium.

Paul Manning, who comes from a family of Charlton supporters, said fans were hopeful a takeover would be a fresh start for the club, but were weary of another false dawn.

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The 34-year-old added: “When we heard the news we thought it was a good thing, a lot of people might be punching the air because something has to change and it shows a willingness to depart by the owners.

“They were adamant they weren’t going to sell the club, so to get to the point where them selling is a possibility is really good.

“But the club can’t take another bad owner, we just can’t sustain it, that would really finish us off.

“From what I’ve heard about the consortium it could be a really positive move. They say they want to get us back in the Premiership, which is fantastic, but we have been here before with the previous owners and we can’t take another bad one.

“So we are cautiously optimistic, but we need to know more about this consortium and what they plan for the club.

“We’ve got one last chance in terms of owners. Any new owners wouldn’t be able to make a mistake or put a foot wrong or we could seriously go out of business.

“I’ve heard Duchatelet might retain ownership of the ground and lease it back to the club.

“That would be a really bad state and could leave us in a similar situation to Coventry.

“The current leadership has been a failure to communicate and a failure of management to tell fans what is going on.

“So if the new owners could communicate well that would put them two steps ahead of the current owners already.”

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Addicks fans have protested Duchatelet's reign on numerous occasions, throwing plastic pigs onto the pitch, staging a mock funeral and having a joint protest with Coventry City supports.

On March 4 the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) group marched with fans of Belgian club Sint-Truiden, who is also owned by Duchatelet, in a joint protest against his ownership.

Rick Everitt, editor of the club’s fanzine, The Voice of the Valley, said: “The long-awaited news isn’t all good.

“There is worrying mention of Charlton acting as a 'feeder club' for Australian talent – although feeding whom is unclear.

“The larger question is why this story has appeared now and whose interest that serves. In any case, it provides a reminder that there are risks as well as opportunities in the change of control that nevertheless remains the club’s only realistic route to recovery.”

A Charlton spokesman said the club is "not for sale" and that their only focus at the moment is on remaining in League One.