Seems like we’re going to have to put back in the box all the Monty Python jokes about Belgians, with the indications being that our own Dutch auction is about to be won by one of their number, one based in the French-speaking Walloon area, much to the delight of my French partner Suzanne (who being French is ideologically close to communist, so she applauds Vivant’s proposal of a basic income guarantee for all citizens).
As usual, anyone looking for insight, actual information (inside or not) etc should not look here. As has been pointed out by others, we’ll believe a deal has been done when one is confirmed but the fact that the club has put a brief statement on the official site is a fair indication that either this deal, or another one to be flushed out, will become a reality soon. Presumably the fact that a purchase price of 14m has been released lays the base amount for any other offers, although it’s reasonable to suppose that there are accompanying elements involving debt, past deals etc that make an actual figure somewhat meaningless.
I know nothing about Roland Duchatelet other than the thumbnails that have been published elsewhere; and it’s been many moons since I wrote about Belgian politics (there was a time I could name both linguistic wings of the major parties and know which combination formed the incumbent government). The reports suggest he isn’t obscenely rich but has pockets deep enough. And let’s face it if our current supply of funds has dried up completely they don’t need to be that deep to compare favourably. It’s tempting to say that he has a clear interest in football (ie a plus), but buying a team (Standard Liege) in your own backyard can be an astute move for a guy with political ambitions. Just why he might be interested in branching out into south-east London remains to be seen (other than the obvious fact that we are the finest club in the country). Perhaps more negatively, someone who’s made decent money in a growing industry and has gone on to form his own political party, as well as buying a football club, is unlikely to be short on ego. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, provided it’s not tipped over into the realms of despotism (viz Cardiff).
The bottom line I think we’d all agree is that our current owners can’t or don’t want the current situation (ie their funding of the levels of losses necessary for us to compete in the Championship) to continue. From the failure to date to conclude possible deals it can be inferred that the price and/or conditions previously demanded for a sale have been unacceptable to the other party/parties, such that our owners are now more inclined to take whatever’s on the table. And if there are no concrete alternative offers materialising pretty soon it looks like Monsieur Duchatelet will take over.
Of course we have concerns. Wouldn’t it be just wonderful if a new owner opens up with “there will be no move away from The Valley and my first priority is to agree a new contract with Sir Chris, followed by signing extensions for key players; and by the way there will be funds made available to strengthen the squad in January if the manager feels this is desirable”. Something along those lines and I’ll eat chips and drink lager for the rest of my life, perhaps even learn to love that silly peeing statue (I know that’s Brussels but it’s close enough to Liege in global terms). I will even try to become a more committed pro-European than I already am (it was Brussels for the last new year, Amsterdam this time around, not long after we extend our winning home run tomorrow). Bring it on.