Evening Standard

Last Saturday night, as Charlton celebrated promotion to the Championship, Michael Slater sent a text to Chris Powell saying: “I think it is a time for a vote of confidence”. As the chairman recounts this story he laughs and says: “Chris got the joke.”

Just in case there is any doubt about the future of the manager the 46-year-old financier adds: “We’ve been in the doldrums with three years in League One but the momentum has started.”

It is 15 months since Powell was handed his first managerial role but after a mixed time last season, which ended with the club in 13th, Charlton have been almost unstoppable this time round. They have held top spot since the middle of September and their victory at Carlisle saw them become the first team in England to win promotion this term.

Powell might speak of recreating the Alan Curbishley era at The Valley but Slater proudly proclaims: “We are in the Powell era. We’re starting our own bit of history now.”

The transformation came after an overhaul of the squad in the summer when 17 players were signed, 11 were sold and a further six released. Slater is sure the squad can do themselves justice in the Championship but accepts some investment is needed.

Joy: Dany N'Guessan (second left) celebrates with team-mates after scoring during Charlton's promotion season. Image courtesy of the Evening Standard

That may come in the forward line to support Bradley Wright-Phillips, Powell’s first signing last year, who has scored 22 goals this season.

Slater will not reveal transfer budgets and although promotion means an extra £4million to £5m in television revenue, he says: “I don’t think that we have to spend more money just to survive in the Championship. This season we wanted Chris to put together a squad that would be not just a top squad for League One but able to hold their own in the Championship. Our squad right now would be competitive with probably half the Championship.

“Does that mean we’d finish mid-table? I don’t know.

“But there’s a lot of teams struggling in the Championship and without investment, which doesn’t look as if it’s going to be coming for many of them, I think we can be competitive.”

His long-term goal is the Premier League, where he already has a model to follow. He adds: “West Bromwich Albion seem to be operating very sensibly. They had a few years of yo-yoing between the Premier League and the Championship but now seem to have established themselves. They’re even posting profits.”

The top flight would mean matches against his beloved Manchester City where he is a season-ticket holder. Slater will be at the Etihad for the Manchester derby a week on Monday but has given up hopes of his club capturing their first title since 1968.

“Even if they beat United they’re still two points behind,” he says. “We needed to go into that fixture already three points clear because they know what it takes to win titles and City have bottled it.”

Charlton, however, have the title in their sights. Victory over Wycombe Wanderers at The Valley tomorrow will see them take the honour, providing Sheffield United slip up at MK Dons.

On Sunday, Slater runs in the London Marathon for the second time hoping to raise £25,000 for the Demelza Hospice Care for Children, a charity that Charlton support.

“Should we be crowned champions tomorrow it would be the start of a memorable weekend for me,” he says.

To sponsor Michael, go to


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