‘Scary’ rebuild, a firesale and protests – Charlton, Wigan and Hull all head for League One in a state of turmoil
- Credit: Archant
Charlton, Wigan and Hull are preparing for life in League One following relegation. STUART WATSON takes a look at three clubs all facing off-field turmoil.
The Addicks’ fate was sealed with a 4-0 final day thrashing at the hands of champions Leeds. They return to League One just one year on from promotion.
Star man Lyle Taylor and long-serving defender Chris Solly, who both turned down short contract extensions after the coronavirus restart, have departed, along with loan regulars such as Aiden McGeady, Josh Cullen, Conor Gallagher, Jonathan Leko and Sam Field.
Earlier this month, a consortium led by the Manchester-based businessman Paul Elliott saw the South London club change ownership for the third time in a year. Elliott assumed control of East Street Investments, who had acquired the club from Roland Duchâtelet for £1 in January. Duchâtelet, who was deeply unpopular among fans, still owns the freehold to The Valley and training ground.
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Speaking on talkSPORT in the wake of relegation, manager Lee Bowyer said: “We are losing so many players, loan players and players who are out of contract. How are we meant to rebuild? I don’t know what is going to happen. I just feel for everybody at the club.
“The game last night was frightening. The difference between the two teams was unreal.
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“I don’t know (about my future). It’s not the right time to talk about my situation. The most important thing is I speak to Paul and see where we go. I have never felt so low in my life.
“We have had to juggle a lot. There is so much that has gone on that no one even knows about. It has been frightening really, it is scary to see that things like this happen behind the scenes at a football club.
“I feel for everyone behind the scenes. We have a group of players and fans that care so much. All we wanted was to be given a fair chance but it felt like backs against walls all the time and the rug getting pulled from beneath us.
“We couldn’t bring players in this January when we desperately needed help. We had no help. If you keep cutting corners, this is what happens.”
Paul Cook’s men only lost two of their last 18 games (W10 D6) and would have comfortably finished in mid-table had it not been for the 12-point deduction which accompanied a bolt from the blue administration announcement at the start of July.
It’s a murky story. Former chairman Dave Whelan sold his share to Hong Kong-based International Entertainment Corporation back in November 2018, then in June the club was sold on to Next Leader Fund (NLF). Within one month of that deal being completed, the Latics were placed into administration. EFL chairman Rick Parry has been secretly filmed suggesting it could be linked to ‘a bet in the Philippines on them being relegated’.
It completely undid the work manager Cook had done in galvanising a side that were bottom of the table at the start of 2020.
The Greater Manchester club has already made 75 staff redundant and now the vultures circle for their best players.
Highly-rated young defender Antonee Robinson, who came close to joining AC Milan in January, is a sellable asset, while QPR and Millwall have reportedly had bids accepted for 10-goal topscorer Kieffer Moore. Tottenham are said to be close to agreeing a deal for the Latics’ 15-year-old ‘wonderkid’ Alfie Devine, while Celtic have been linked to winger Jamal Lowe.
Administrator Gerald Krasner confirmed on Wednesday that he had already sold one player to pay outstanding wages until June and that another two players were likely to be sold by the end of the week.
Key loan men Leon Balogun (Brighton) and Kieran Dowell (Everton) will be misses too.
Cook – who led Chesterfield, Portsmouth (both League Two) and Wigan (League One) to promotions – said: “We’ve just got to keep hold of our dignity at the minute because it’s painful. I feel physically sick for everyone.
“I’ve just got to say how proud I am of the players. The disappointment that they’re feeling is because they feel they’ve done something wrong, which is so sad for the dressing room because they’ve done nothing wrong.”
Relegation is not completely assured yet because the club have appealed the points deduction. Fourth-bottom Barnsley facing a nervous wait on that decision, which is set for next Friday (July 31).
A collapse of epic proportions.
The Tigers were on the edge of the play-offs come the turn of the year. In January, they sold key duo Jarrod Bowen (West Ham, £18m) and Kamil Grosicki (West Brom, £800k).
They finished the campaign rock bottom after claiming just six points from their final 20 games (W1 D3 L16). A six-game losing streak finish included an 8-0 humiliation at home to Wigan.
That’s two relegations in four years for a club who were playing in Europe as recently as 2014/15.
The Allam family, who are coming up for a decade of ownership, have been looking for a buyer since 2014. Supporters are planning protests over the coming days.
Manager Grant McCann, who managed Peterborough and Doncaster in League One, says the club will ‘reset and regroup’.
Players signed for a cumulative £20m have been released in order to salsh the wage bill, with Eric Lichaj, Jackson Irvine, Kevin Stewart, Jon Toral, Markus Henriksen and Nouha Dicko among those departing.
George Long, Angus MacDonald, Callum Elder, Jordy de Wijis, Ryan Tafazolli, Daniel Batty, Leonardo Da Silva Lopez, George Honeyman, Josh Magennis, Tom Eaves and Mallik Wilks – many of whom have League One experience – are among the core left.
“It’s going to be difficult – League One is a tough league,” said McCann. “We’re all devastated at this point but over these next two or three weeks the hard work starts now to regroup, rebuild, to bring characters into this football club to try and have a push next year.
“We’ve got 18 players contracted to this club next year so we’ve got a good base to work from.
“The owners have been brilliant with me. I hope I get the chance to stay on. I haven’t heard otherwise. I feel as though I know League One inside and out and I’m probably the best man to do that.
“I know I’m going to be recruiting players and characters who want to win and fight and run to try and get out of League One next year.”