Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Wind Out of the Sails and a Victimless Crime

I had to think hard to remember a result - and by the sound of it a performance - that left us feeling so deflated. Of course with a little effort they do come back to mind (Operation Ewood back in 2007, the failure to get past Swindon at The Valley in the third-tier play-offs in 2010 ...), those games/results that you just prefer to leave in their long-buried box. I can't comment on the match itself (although a fellow Addick was more forgiving than some of the reports I read, suggesting that Bristol City deserved more credit than they've been given for a very disciplined performance - perhaps they still had a bee in their bonnet over our equaliser at their place); but perhaps there was a general feeling after Rotherham that with the return of Riga and with two more faces coming in that with better organisation we had enough ability and character, plus gathering momentum, to get out of the bottom three and stay out.

I wouldn't call it complacency but would guess that a straw poll of supporters before the game would have seen most predicting a win or draw at worst. Instead no Vetokele, no sign of the new guys, a depressing home defeat which can't be explained away simply as the result of a ref's decision (what mattered was how we reacted to going behind), seemingly a bad reaction from the crowd, and Bolton leaving us on the bottom. Now, instead of being on something of a roll we (and the players) have to draw another line in the sand (after the one following the rout at Hull) and hope: that the loan window produces further strengthening, that all those already with us are match-fit and available asap, that the players show the necessary commitment, that Cardiff turn up on Saturday already on their summer hols .... (and of course that our owner puts us up for sale and in the interim - or in conjunction - Ms Meire really does head off to pastures new).

I'm not a lawyer and have no idea whether or not filing a false director's resignation, presumably one involving the forging of a signature, actually breaks any laws. If it does - and I notice the BBC's report suggests that "an individual found guilty of filing false documents to Companies House could receive a prison term of up to two years, a fine, or both" - I hope that in this instance good sense prevails, even if the person responsible is identified (CARD say not them). It's a good principle in law that for a crime to have been committed there needs to be a victim and some tangible ill-effects, some damage, to merit recompense. In this case, while nobody condones breaking any laws, there is no such harm, no real attempt to deceive or mislead (I occasionally say something to my partner Suzanne that clearly isn't true but deny that it's a lie as there isn't a bat in hell's chance of her falling for it) . If the board had any collective sense of humour it would take a step back and treat it for the (good) jape that was, I assume, the intention. This is after all the regime that tarred us with the tawdry 'score on the pitch' episode, which had no wit and just left us embarrassed. The fact that the club takes the matter "seriously" means nothing; it was funny. Perhaps the perpetrator is a potential investor who was looking to establish some means of communication.

That said, for what it's worth I didn't really favour the nature of the 'banner protest' for Saturday's game. I back the campaign, accept that it's not easy to keep the protests novel and the board off balance, and can see the appeal of responding to the club's heavy-handed approach towards visible expressions of discontent inside the ground. But this was a bloody important match and the nature of the protest couldn't help but divert attention from the game while it was going on, with the players no doubt aware of it all. It worked against the idea of giving the team full support while games are being played. Nobody can say if there was an adverse effect on the pitch, but equally nobody can say with certainty that there wasn't one. Why take the chance?

With hindsight might have been better to have had fans with the posters outside the ground before and after the game, with the other focus of the day's protest being the excellent poster in Anchor & Hope Lane. Or perhaps something that might have fitted better with the planned demonstration by Liverpool fans against their rise in some prices, emphasising the theme of 'supporters not customers' (admission prices is probably the one area where the regime deserves credit).

After all, while the level of unrest has clearly gone up markedly and there is now a focal point for it in the form of CARD, we shouldn't pretend that every Addick is fully on board (ahem, it is above 2%). Let's leave distortions and half-truths to the regime. I've walked to the ground for post-match protests outside the West Stand twice now and on both occasions was a bit struck by supporters - quite often ones wearing black and white scarves - leaving early (and given that both games were draws not because of events on the pitch). Sure some people have good reason not to wait behind, even not to wait for the end of the match; but I think this and other comments following the call to boycott purchases inside the ground suggests there is still work to be done to convince some supporters that our club will only have a decent chance to prosper with new owners (and of course that there are such people out there). In the interim, doing anything that might be labelled as increasing the chances of us being relegated, before the outcome is decided, can sow seeds of disunity when all Addicks want us to stay up.

Our owner and CEO apparently don't care about our club's history, and they are ignorant of most things football. So perhaps we need to emphasise some truths from time to time: League One is horrible and we desperately don't want to go back there. If we do go down, there will be no shrugging of shoulders, acceptance of our lot etc. We might feel inclined to attribute 5-10% of the blame on the Slater/Jiminez regime, for obvious reasons (including who they sold us on to). But relegation this season would be seen as an unnecessary failure laid squarely at our owner's door.

Like many other Addicks I've seen us relegated to the third flight three times. First time around was a shock (we'd been in the Second Division all my life until then) but was ultimately manageable; I was young and we got back up in the third season, before life in the third division became entrenched. Second time around I was away at university for the most part. Third time was pretty bad but in essence a hangover from relegation from the Premiership and an inability to adjust. And just when despair might have set in after two failed campaigns along came Sir Chris and the team that he put together. Never more than three consecutive seasons in the third flight but also an awareness of just what a miserable slog that division is.

Rightly or wrongly I think most Charlton supporters would say they loved being in the Premiership/Division One as was (even if first time around in my life was soiled by being away from The Valley) and would of course embrace returning, can accept life in the Championship (probably even suggest that we are at home in the division, not punching above or below our weight), but view the third division as beneath us, being in it an unnatural state of affairs (just as is Palace being temporarily in the top flight). There are of course clubs in that league now that would feel the same (most obviously Sheff Utd). We all accept that there are no divine rights involved, the point is that if Duchatelet thinks for a moment that getting relegated, going back to a league that were in not so long ago, would be seen by supporters as a modest setback, one likely to prompt a similar reaction to last time around in terms of attendance, he really should think again.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Conspiracy Theories Abound
Perhaps it was Roland himself. It could be that he's beginning to get a slight inkling as to how much money she has and is going to cost him (unsustainable) and he wants her out. After such predictable heavy losses, he doesn't want to pay any more endless compensation on terminating multiple contracts. So he's giving her an way out and dropped a strong hint, instead of firing her. That's it an inside job, scary, I'd go if I were her.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Nice thought, perhaps Roland is one of those who demands a signed but undated resignation letter to be used when desired before appointing anyone. But I doubt Ms Meire has had the decision-making power to cost him any money other than her wages; and nobody actually gets sacked from the network, just moved around.

Anonymous said...

Ah like one of those V optimistic pre-marriage divorce agreements, without any trust, a lawyers dream, do I envy the rich, maybe just the sane ones, sometimes. Em I think you're right, keep up the good work B A.

Anonymous said...

Who is advising Duchatalet and Meire on transfers,is it Murray? It sure looks like it, who with any brain would sign Roger Johnson again,Poyet after he failed at MK Dons, Williams after a year out injured, supporting Frey as Manager ,then we sign Sanogo from Arsenal and Fanni from middle East.These all look like lazy signings,last minute throws of the dice .
Murray has form here since Curbishley left, signing a load of old rubbish,what's he got to lose,his reputation is shot anyway,and his loans secured unlike the owner's.

Keith Searle said...

If it was an inside job then - contrary to popular belief - the perpetrator does know their #cafc history. The date was a give away.

Blackheath Addicted said...

I really don't know who comes up with the possibles and who contributes to a final decision. Did think that the way Teixeira was picked up suggested that Riga was getting a good say, but as has been pointed out he seemed guarded with his comments about Sanogo and Fanni. I hope we're not relying on these famed spreadsheets. But we probably also have to accept that at the moment a number of possibles just may not want to come to us, given the state we are in, on and off the pitch.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Ha! Re the date you are right Keith for sure. Rules out anyone from the regime (if they weren't already off the list as not having the necessary wit).

BigPete said...

Murray is a pure figure head, A non-exec, he really has no say in what goes on,
HIs loans may be secured, but the majority are intrest free and he guarentees most of our credit line.

RD on the other hand is charging the club 3% on loands from Starprix

far from being lazy, we can resonably expect that other players were talked to and even clubs approached, but no-one in their right mind would want to join our club in the state its in and that Fanni and Sanogo were the best of those players desperate enough for game time to come, in the positions that we needed.

I also have no doubt that murray and his connections at Arsenal were drivers behind us even getting a look in with Gnarby and seeing Sanogo

Anonymous said...

Are you a relative of Richard Murray, 6 other people have interest free loans but don't see the need to cling to the sinking ship or use their vast experience and Arsenal connections? are you joking?
What happened to Championship Experienced Players we were going to sign according to man who is not involved and has no say,and if he has no say what the hell is he hanging on as Chairman for, maybe he has more to do than you know and who found Duchatalet and why did he keep Murray involved when under Slater Murray was just a Director.
Murray talks with forked tongue.

Blackheath Addicted said...

I don't know Richard Murray so cannot comment on his motivation. I don't know Duchatelet either but as he is the decision-maker we can at least infer from what is done just what ticks his boxes. As the club was effectively up for sale for at least five months, enough time for anyone interested in buying us to emerge, I don't think it points to Murray actually finding Duchatelet (although of course he may have done). I don't know if Murray is any more involved now. As a non-exec chairman (as well as director) presumably his only duty is to preside over board meetings - and given that one of the three directors seldom makes it to SE7 I'd imagine these amount to nothing more than a chat with Meire and a conference call with an unacceptably absent decision-maker. People closer to it all than me will have to say whether he 'talks with forked tongue', perhaps we will have to wait until it all comes out in the wash further down the line. For now, I'd like to hear whether Murray still believes that Duchatelet can be a good long-term owner of the club and, if so, just why? The sympathetic interpretation is that we need someone to pay the bills and better the devil with a chequebook (which leads us back to the shameful recent treatment of Varney).