The message to Charlton’s owners was loud and clear from tonight’s packed Supporters Trust meeting in Woolwich: Start talking to the fans now and listen to what we have to say.

Opening invited speaker Geoff Doyle from Essex Addicks admitted his fear that apathy would grip the club’s fanbase if there is no sense of ambition from the owner.

Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt, a veteran of the campaign to return the club to SE7, began by pointing out: “Here we go again 25 years on.”

Everitt believes there is no reason why success can’t be delivered if Roland Duchatelet entered into a partnership with the fans but at the moment that simply isn’t happening.

“People can see the damage being done to all the good things that have been done over the past 25 years,” he said.

Everitt also questioned how representative the current Fans’ Forum, which does meet with the club, was of the wider Charlton following.

He ended a well received speech by saying: “History shows if Charlton fans organise they can make a difference.

“I believe we can do it again if that is what it takes.”

Kevin Messere from the Into the Valley online forum claimed  at the moment the fans feel on the periphery of the club, while Craig Sloman from the CAS Trust refused to accept Meire’s reasons for not meeting their organisation on the grounds it would look like favouritism.

“I don’t think we’ve ever felt as alienated from our club as now,” he said before concluding by once again demanding better communication from Meire.

Steve Dixon summed the issue up by posing the question: “Do you want to support an independent football club or do you want to support the London franchise of a European sports network?”

Dixon then called for Duchatelet to sell up and go, a sentiment which was well received by those present.

Online contributions from those unable to attend were read out, the overwhelming majority of which were highly critical of the Belgian owners.

The meeting was then thrown open to the floor.

One season ticket holder who had once been interviewed for the now defunct fan on the board position called for the role to be restored as a way of improving the link between the owners and supporters.

Another stressed the importance of attracting the next generation of supporters to the Trust, going on to say the short-term aim of calling the meeting tonight was a positive step while the long-term aim should be to get a fan back on the board.

A season ticket holder since 1971 said: “None of us here have x millions of pounds to buy the club so we are stuck with Roland,” before revealing all he really wants is to go to The Valley and see Charlton winning again.

“I’m not interested in better communication,” he added.

“To me that is just fluff and nonsense.”

The next speaker was not convinced by that argument: “Roland has to go. Let’s get our Charlton back.”

The issue of what had gone on behind the scenes at Blackburn and Cardiff was raised, with the speaker acknowledging although the owners remained in place, there were still lessons for the Trust to learn from campaigns waged at those two clubs.

A fan told the room although he was no fan of Duchatelet or Meire, people needed to put the current situation in perspective by looking at what has happened to Coventry City and Portsmouth.

An example to potentially follow of how to run the club was that of Swansea City according to one man who has been following the Addicks since 1994, while a 16-year-old revealed he had recently had a critical banner removed while trying to enter The Valley.

A vote by hand was taken where only a handful agreed no further action should be taken by the Trust, with the overwhelming majority in favour of continuing even if Charlton eased their relegation fears by winning the next five games.

The majority, slightly smaller, then raised their hands when asked if they should try and continue asking for better dialogue with the Belgians.

One agreed suggestion from tonight was to use the good will of Richard Murray as a potential way of opening up a direct line of communication with the owners.

It was also decided to establish better links with other supporters groups from Duchatelet’s network of clubs, as well as setting a deadline for when talks with the club should happen.

One idea was to put financial pressure on Duchaetelet’s business interests, while the next speaker proposed a similar targeting of Charlton’s current backers and sponsors.

The upcoming Huddersfield Football for a Fiver game was identified as an ideal occasion to hold some form of protest.

Proceedings ended on a light note with an idea to form the ‘Talk to us Roland’ party and stand candidates in the upcoming general election .

That might not trouble Posh Dave or Red Ed too much between now and May but the current owners of Charlton Athletic would be very unwise to just ignore the genuine anger expressed by the 400+ audience at tonight’s debate.

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