- Greenwich Council proposing parking restrictions to cover Charlton Athletic evening matches
- Parking restrictions in Charlton are already being expanded to selected streets
- Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust says the plans are disproportionate and could hit attendances
Football fans fear that tough new match day parking restrictions will hit attendances at Charlton Athletic’s home matches – even posing a threat to the future of the club.
Newly approved plans mean that more streets in Charlton will be brought into a parking permit zone, blocking parking until 6.30pm on Mondays to Saturdays. But Greenwich Council has announced plans to introduce an additional matchday parking zone, covering the same streets, lasting until 9pm on any day a match is on.
The proposal comes despite the Addicks’ crowds being at their lowest for a generation, following years of chaotic ownership and relegation to League One in 2020, with evening matches being particularly poorly attended. The club was bought by Global Football Partners in July with fans hoping for more settled times.
A 4-0 win at home yesterday saw the Addicks climb to 10th in League One after a poor start in front of an offically-recorded crowd of 15,572, although the true number will have been lower once absent season-ticket holders and unused complimentary tickets were stripped out.
But midweek matches record even lower figures. Even the official attendances recorded a crowd of only 11,575 against Exeter City on a Tuesday night earlier this month, thought to be far lower in reality.
In its consultation materials, the Labour council said the measure was to help keep spaces for “local businesses”. But one fan on the club’s most popular forum, Charlton Life, responded: “Aren’t we visiting a local business?” Others have claimed the restrictions are a danger to the future of a club that is at a low ebb. “This could seriously be a disaster for the club,” said one.
Most of Charlton’s support is dispersed across the SE London suburbs and north Kent, where public transport links are slow, infrequent and often disrupted at weekends by engineering works. Inside the capital, cuts by the Conservative government to Southeastern Metro rail services ended “loop” trains from Sidcup that were used by fans to get to The Valley, leading to more fans using their cars.
The main fans’ group, the Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust, said it was not consulted about the proposal for matchday parking curbs, which only emerged on Wednesday morning when residents who live near The Valley had letters sent to them, and nor was it consulted about the original plans to extend the permit zone.
Over 600 fans have already responded to a trust survey on the issue.
Richard Wiseman, the trust’s secretary, said: “Along with the vast majority of local residents who responded to the original proposals we think the controls are disproportionate.
“They will without doubt have an effect on attendances. We are in favour of efforts to reduce car travel but, although many fans will be able to use a different mode of transport or at least find alternative parking further away, some – particularly the elderly or infirm – will inevitably decide that it is too much trouble.
“We suspect also that the extension will simply displace parking to different parts of the area – in particular south of Charlton Park.
“We believe that the additional matchday controls announced this week will have an even greater effect on already-declining midweek attendances as many fans will not relish a long walk back to a car on a winter night or trusting to the vagaries of public transport.
“Given that there are usually fewer than ten first-team evening matches at The Valley in 365 days we feel that these additional controls are particularly disproportionate.”
The newly-expanded controlled parking zone will cover streets such as Bramshot Avenue and Eastcombe Avenue on Mondays to Saturdays and these would be included in the matchday curbs. But some streets that are closer to The Valley – such as parts of Victoria Way, Calydon Road, Heathwood Gardens and The Heights, would be left out altogether, although this was not made clear when the consultation began.
A consultation into the newly-expanded scheme received 290 objections – including those who thought the restrictions were not strong enough – and just 20 comments in favour, with a mixture of views on matchday parking.
Streets south of Charlton Park – where many fans park – are not included, but The Greenwich Wire understands that plans are being drawn up to cover these streets. Greenwich’s transport strategy calls for controlled parking zones to eventually cover the whole borough.
A council spokesperson said: “No decision has been made yet on matchday restrictions at The Valley. During a recent consultation on the expansion of the existing daytime control area, matchday parking and its impact on residents arose.
“As a result, the council has proposed a traffic order which opens up a formal 21-day consultation, closing on 8 November. Matchday restrictions are relatively common both in London and across the country and seek to balance the needs of residents and visitors to the venues.
“Charlton Athletic Football Club were made aware in advance of the publication and we are arranging a follow-up meeting with the club to discuss the proposals. We encourage feedback on the proposals from all interested parties, including local supporter groups.”
Charlton Athletic have been contacted for comment.