Charlton push the boat out to bankroll Dowie

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The Independent Football

Richard Murray, the Charlton chairman, insists that breaking into next season's projected budget to fund the manager Iain Dowie's £12m summer spending was "a risk worth taking".

It has been all change down at The Valley following the departure of the long-serving manager Alan Curbishley in May. No fewer than 10 deals in one shape or form were completed before the transfer window closed last week, including £3.7m spent on the Senegal defender Souleymane Diawara, £2m each for Amady Faye and Djimi Traoré, £3m on Andy Reid and £1m to bring the teenager Simon Walton from Leeds, who has since been loaned to Ipswich.

Charlton have also increased their wage bill. The free-transfer signing Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink and the on-loan Liverpool goalkeeper Scott Carson have come in, while the England duo Luke Young and Darren Bent were handed lucrative new contracts this summer.

Murray, though, said that it was a price worth paying to ensure the team remain competitive in the Premiership. "We have shown we mean business by backing Iain Dowie in the transfer market," the Charlton chairman said. "We have spent a large chunk of next season's budget as well, but we felt that it was a risk worth taking because it is a big season, bearing in mind the new, big-money Premiership TV deal comes in next year. A lot of the guys we have brought in are on big wages as well, but we are happy with the squad we now have.

"We have taken on a lot of debt, certainly a lot more than in the past. But we feel that the debt is manageable and we wanted to ensure that we were competitive this season."

Despite the heavy investment, on the pitch it has not been the most inspiring of starts with Charlton picking up just three points from their first three games.

With a trip to the champions Chelsea on Saturday followed by meetings with the in-form Portsmouth, Aston Villa and then hosting Arsenal, it looks set to be a tough September for the new-look Addicks. Dowie, though, remains positive and said that the visit to Stamford Bridge would hold no fears.

"We are well aware of the qualities they have got - but it is game we can go into now with a bit of freedom and enjoy it," he said. "Anytime you play at the champions it is a great occasion."

Dowie will monitor the fitness of the right-back Young (ankle) and the England Under-21 winger Darren Ambrose (groin) after both returned early from international duty. Hermann Hreidarsson starts a three-match ban, so with Gonzalo Sorondo (back) and Jonathan Fortune (broken toe) both out, Diawara could be in line for his debut.

It was confirmed yesterday that Charlton Athletic plc is to withdraw from the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange. An extraordinary general meeting was held at The Valley where shareholders granted the necessary approval.

Murray believes his club are gaining no benefit from their continued presence on the AIM, but confirmed that Charlton would remain a public limited company.

"We floated the company on the AIM in March 1997 and were able to raise £6m from directors, supporters and institutional investors principally to develop the west stand at The Valley," he said.

"Since that time, I and my fellow directors - along with other supporters - have invested a further £22m through the issue of additional shares, which we have used to purchase players and to further develop The Valley and the training ground complex in New Eltham.

"We believe that there is little further prospect of raising additional external funds through the AIM," he added, "and the costs and administrative burden of maintaining ongoing membership cannot be justified going forward."

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