BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Lee Bowyer is set for talks with Charlton Athletic’s board at the start of next week – with the lack of numbers in his first-team squad a major concern.
There has been speculation that the Addicks manager could be set to leave as the trials and tribulations over the club’s ownership continue to overshadow his attempts to bring success in SE7.
It is understood the EFL met with East Street Investments on Wednesday in an attempt to get to the bottom of the ownership situation surrounding the South London club.
ESI took control of Charlton in January but have still not met all of the governing body’s requirements to see their takeover approved.
The EFL released a statement on Monday evening which appeared to threaten further sanctions – with supporters fearing that could lead to the club being expelled from the league.
There was a statement on Charlton’s website announcing Paul Elliott as the new owner of ESI at the start of June but Companies House lists no change to the current structure.
The EFL have enforced a registration embargo since the start of 2020 which puts major restrictions in place on signing players.
Charlton’s inability to majorly strengthen their squad in the previous window was a key factor in their relegation to League One.
Bowyer is yet to make any promises that he will still be at the helm for the extensive rebuilding job that lies ahead. He attracted heavy interest from Huddersfield Town last season but snubbed their overtures as there was the promise of major investment from ESI.
The 43-year-old had also been linked with the managerial vacancies at Bristol City and Birmingham.
“I’ll meet them [ESI] at the start of the week and see what we’re going to be doing moving forward as a club,” said the Addicks boss.
Luton have already tried their luck with a low bid for Alfie Doughty but there are bigger Championship clubs in the mix for the 20-year-old.
Goalkeeper Dillon Phillips is also a wanted man and, like Doughty, has less than 12 months to run on his contract. Striker Macauley Bonne has been linked with a move.
“The prospective new ownership group want to make it clear that there is no intention to sell any of the club’s key contracted players,” said a statement on Charlton’s official website earlier this week.
Bowyer is hoping that message is backed up by actions.
He said: “I can only go on what the owner [Elliott] is saying. If he said no-one is for sale, he’s the one going to be in charge of whether people go or not. I’ll have an input, but he’ll have the final say on that for financial reasons. These are the discussions I need to be having when I sit in front of him.
“I hope we don’t sell any of them because we’ve got about 12 players contracted for next season. The sports science lads are talking about pre-season friendlies but we’ve only got enough players for one half. When you first come back you want to split it 45 minutes with a different 11 in each – but we’ve only got 12 players.”
Midfielder Jake Forster-Caskey has taken up an extension option in his contract and will stay until the summer of 2021.
Bowyer would also like to keep Jonny Williams and Naby Sarr, but concedes the latter is set to move on.
Tom Lockyer has a relegation release clause which can be activated. The Wales international is set to receive a contract offer from director of football Steve Gallen before the end of this week.
It seems unlikely that the 25-year-old, who played every minute in the Championship bar the three matches he was suspended for, will still be on the Addicks’ books when the new campaign starts on September 12.
All of the loan signings – Josh Cullen, Andre Green, Aiden McGeady, Sam Field, Matt Smith and David Davis – have departed.
Left-back Lewis Page, whose Addicks career has been ravaged by injury, will not be offered a new deal.
“I’m happy Jake is staying,” said Bowyer. “I want them all to stay, because we’ve got no players. The more we keep, the more we stand a chance of competing.
“But if Jonny Williams and the rest go then we’re down to the bare bones and are trying to compete against teams we lost out to last summer. We lost out on players when we were in the Championship. We had two strikers we wanted and both chose to go to League One sides because they were paying more than we were.
“Now we’ve got to compete against those teams.”
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