Into the Valley: Abu Dhabi’s East Street ends Duchâtelet era at Charlton

By David Owen

November 29 – Nearly two years after he put the club up for sale, the Roland Duchâtelet era at Charlton Athletic finally looks to be over.

The famous old East London club, FA Cup winners in 1947, announced today that an Abu Dhabi-controlled venture named East Street Investments had agreed the purchase of tier-two Charlton. The deal is subject to EFL approval and no price was disclosed.

Mindful perhaps of the Belgian investor’s difficult relationship with Charlton fans, a lengthy statement disclosing the deal sought to underline the importance of football club supporters.

“While we may be the club owners, truly we are only the custodians,” the statement proclaimed purplishly. “The true spirit of this football club rests with the fans, it is nothing without them. Their support throughout some difficult times both recently and in the past has been inspirational and we intend to build on that loyalty. Our priority will be immediate contact with fan groups in order that their views play a major role in the club going forward.”

A businessman called Tahnoon Nimer is said to be majority shareholder of East Street Investments, through Abu Dhabi-based Panorama Magic General Contracting. Nimer is also chairman of Abu Dhabi Business Development. It is intended that he will sit on the new Charlton board.

Two other involved individuals are named in today’s statement. Matt Southall, East Street’s chairman, is said to have spent the past five years advising on mergers and acquisitions between the UK and the Middle East. Previous activities have included e-commerce and sports management, “working alongside high profile sports agencies and their clients”. He was once a student at the Blackburn Rovers school of excellence.

Jonathan Heller is chief executive of Abu Dhabi Business Development. Heller is said to have held “prominent positions” in the UK nuclear industry before becoming head of European development for Prudential Investments.

After promotion last season and a strong start to life in the Championship, the Addicks have slipped off the pace in recent weeks and currently lie 17th, albeit with a bigger gap separating them from 18th-placed Reading than eighth-placed Brentford.

East Street expressed confidence in manager and former Charlton player Lee Bowyer, saying it believed the “football side of the club is in excellent hands” and pledging to do “everything possible” to support him.

It also thanked Duchâtelet for “helping to facilitate a quick and smooth sale”, adding that the Belgian and his team “leave the club with solid foundations on which we can invest and build”.

The new era begins with a home game against another famous old club, Sheffield Wednesday, at the Valley tomorrow.

Contact the writer if this story, David Owen, at moc.l1601328927labto1601328927ofdlr1601328927owedi1601328927sni@o1601328927fni1601328927