Lee Bowyer’s future at Charlton Athletic has been thrown into fresh doubt after the club’s unpopular owner Roland Duchatelet revealed in a bizarre statement that the Addicks boss is yet to agree a new contract.
The former Leeds and Newcastle midfielder has done a superb job at the south London club, leading the Addicks to the Championship via the play-offs in his first full season in charge despite operating with a limited budget.
However, with the Addicks up for sale, Duchatelet declined to offer Bowyer any longer than a 12-month extension or pay him a salary in line with other Championship bosses.
In a extraordinary and rambling statement on the Charlton website, which club staff refused to put on social media, the Belgian businessman said the Addicks were ‘extremely limited on payroll increases’ and outlined why he was not willing to meet the demands of their popular boss.
talkSPORT understands Bowyer has been left ‘bewildered’ by the announcement from Duchatelet, with the 42-year-old eager to stay at The Valley and believing an agreement would be reached.
The statement – which was not even put on social media by staff angry at the treatment of their manager – read: “Charlton Athletic have been unable to reach an agreement with manager Lee Bowyer regarding the extension of his contract.
“The fact the club is for sale has not helped with finding an agreement. The current owner needs to take into account that a new owner may want to appoint his own manager.
“However, this concern did not stop the current owner proposing a contract extension of one year to Lee Bowyer, even though the club may be sold in a few weeks.
“Under those circumstances a multi-year extension would not be good business practice.
“In addition, since the club is still losing money, which is one of the reasons why the club has not been sold yet, the focus on reducing costs means that we are extremely limited on payroll increases.
“Lee has been offered a one-year extension to his contract at a level which is approximately three times what he had since his last increase when he became permanent manager in September. It is six times what he earned when he started as assistant manager in 2017 and 50% more than what any Charlton manager previously had (excluding the Premier League years). This reflects the strong desire we have to continue to have Lee as our manager. But Lee wanted much more.
“The owner understands Lee’s point of view, because many Championship clubs pay huge amounts (some pay millions of £ per year) to their manager.
“It is fair that Lee feels he should be paid like many other Championship managers.
“That the average Championship club makes a loss of around £15million per year is not something players should care about. The owners are crazy.
“This is why we could not come to an agreement. Another element may have influenced as well.
“Unlike previous contract discussions, Lee wanted an agent to handle it. We reluctantly accepted.
“However, involving a player agent in a manager’s contract discussion is not healthy.
“If the agent helps make the manager more money, it may result in the manager to have a more positive attitude towards players proposed by the same agent, a conflict of interest.
“Obviously, Lee is above such things, but it is nevertheless not a healthy situation.
“The club hasn’t started to look for any other manager in the meantime and does not intend to appoint a permanent manager, since the club is going to be sold.
“A caretaker manager will be announced in due course and in the meantime the other staff members will continue to prepare the upcoming season for which a lot of good work has been performed already.
“If Lee does change his mind before his contract expires and chooses to continue his good work at Charlton, he is still welcome to stay.
“However our ability to sell the club is the most important thing right now.”
talkSPORT had been told earlier on Monday that Bowyer was confident of a resolution to his contract talks and remains willing to enter further negotiations with Duchatelet.
The futures of assistant manager Johnnie Jackson and head of recruitment Steve Gallen also remain up in the air.
Gallen had verbally agreed a new deal with the club but is highly unlikely to stay if Bowyer does indeed go, while Jackson also feels loyalty to the manager despite his long association with the Addicks.
The saga has left Charlton fans even more desperate to see the back of Duchatelet and has left players fuming, with star striker Lyle Taylor seemingly as baffled as anyone by the situation.
Duchatelet has not been to a game since 2014 – the year he bought Charlton – and has admitted he has little interest in the club.
Supporters, who Duchatelet has regularly criticised, have been protesting for him to leave for the past few years but the Belgian’s demands have scuppered any prospect of a sale.