Ham­mond raises Sem­tex pay­out

Ad­dicks fans are just get­ting warmed up in their bat­tle against the unloved own­ers

The Wharf - - News - Rob Virtue

Vic­tims of the 1996 Dock­lands bomb have wel­comed news that the Gov­ern­ment has raised the is­sue of com­pen­sa­tion with the new Libyan gov­ern­ment.

The For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond re­vealed this week that he put the is­sue on the agenda dur­ing a sur­prise visit to sup­port prime min­is­ter-des­ig­nate Fayez Sar­raj and his “gov­ern­ment of na­tional ac­cord” ear­lier this month. How­ever, he in­di­cated that the is­sue would take time to re­solve.

The Dock­lands Vic­tims As­so­ci­a­tion, in tan­dem with other sup­port groups, no­tably in North­ern Ire­land, has been cam­paign­ing for years to get com­pen­sa­tion from Libya af­ter Colonal Muam­mar Gaddafi sup­plied the IRA with Sem­tex for their bombs, one of which rocked the Dock­lands in 1996. Jonathan Ganesh, pres­i­dent of the DVA, said: “I’m pleased the Gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have in­di­cated a will­ing­ness to help as it ap­pears that they have fi­nally put this on their agenda. “I hope that it is not just a false prom­ise of hope as pre­vi­ous UK gov­ern­ments have done.”

The Charl­ton fans are re­volt­ing. And, if the club’s own­er­ship was con­tin­u­ing in the be­lief that this would go away qui­etly, on Satur­day that regime re­ceived a dose of re­al­ity.

The farce con­tin­ues. It’s a farce that has seen the club have three man­agers this sea­son in­clud­ing one snatched from an un­der­achiev­ing side in the Bel­gian third di­vi­sion and an­other who they dumped two years ear­lier.

It’s a farce that has seen a num­ber of much-loved and top Cham­pi­onship play­ers swapped with of­ten poor and usu­ally un­fit re­place­ments.

It’s a farce where the de­ci­sions are based on a strat­egy de­vel­oped by an owner who has not at­tended a Charl­ton game all sea­son.

You won­der if As­ton Villa owner Randy Lerner says a silent prayer each night for the fab­u­lous dis­trac­tion down the M40.

And, on Satur­day, while Charl­ton fans yet again lit­tered the pitch with beach balls, caus­ing the game to be stopped three times, there was an ex­tra twist in the tail.

Brighton fans, who have also gone through the mill over the years, re­paid their op­po­site num­bers who were among those who stepped to their aid when they faced the abyss al­most 20 years ago.

As all 3,000 blue and whites rose to their feet to de­mand the Charl­ton owner Roland Duchatelet’s exit, chief ex­ec­u­tive Ka­trien Meire must have felt un­der more pres­sure than ever.

This match was billed by the protest lead­er­ship as throw­ing the kitchen sink at the cam­paign and the pre-game march com­plete with ban­ners and bal­loons – plus fur­ther chants be­fore and af­ter the pitch ac­tion – was cer­tainly that.

What was equally bad news for the own­er­ship was that the fans re­ally seem to be en­joy­ing it.

The de­ter­mi­na­tion of this group who once launched a po­lit­i­cal party in a bid to re­turn home – and was suc­cess­ful – can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated.

Now the Bat­tle For The Val­ley has turned into the bat­tle for the club. And Charl­ton’s fans’ strug­gle is start­ing to be­come a by­word for the dis­af­fected sup­porter.

Meire once said she didn’t care about the club’s his­tory. Per­haps she should start car­ing, be­cause with this level of sup­port you get the feel­ing the protests are here to stay.

As for the foot­ball on Satur­day, Brighton won 3-1 but Charl­ton fans are long past car­ing what hap­pens on the pitch.

Al­though they will hope to do their south coast friends a favour and help them in their pro­mo­tion push.

Libyan PM Fayez al-Sar­raj meets For­eign Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond

GETTY

Satur­day’s game is held up to re­move beach balls from the pitch

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