The khazi reading keeps throwing up timely gems. The front cover of Voice of the Valley No 56, which was published in the wake of the January 1995 board meeting which saw the removal of Roger Alwen as chief executive and chairman, with Richard Murray elevated to managing director and Martin Simons made chairman, has a photo of Murray and Simons and an apt caption of the former saying to the latter "well, at least no-one can say you couldn't organise a p***-up in a brewery!" I think it's safe to say that no current or future publication or report dealing with the Duchatelet regime will say the same about them.
This blog seldom if ever contains information not already published elsewhere and I have no inside track on exactly why Chris Wilder and the regime (sorry to be pedantic but I still balk at the regime being synonymous with my club) could not agree terms. From what's been written elsewhere it's reasonable to believe that the outcome was down to the latter refusing to put in writing assurances over control (presumably related to transfers, possibly also team selection) which he may or may not have been given verbally by our owner, and/or the possibility that Sheffield Utd would be coming in for him (as is now being assumed following the sacking of Nigel Adkins). If he ends up at Bramall Lane and a club that he obviously has a deep affection for (and an area that requires no family relocation), the spin will no doubt move in that direction. And unless Wilder comes out and says why a deal was not concluded we can only guess, as we cannot take anything said by Duchatelet or Meire at face value.
If it transpires that Wilder refused to accept what the regime was offering, we have to infer/guess which party was being unreasonable. Of course this is not the first time that the regime has offered a contract which has been deemed unacceptable. Sir Chris couldn't agree to the terms offered to him, and we know that had nothing to do with money. So it's not unfair to conclude that there are some aspects of the terms that the regime offers, aspects which relate to control, which Wilder and Powell found unacceptable yet Riga, Peeters and Luzon did not. Points towards the idea that if you're a network man you know and accept what this entails; if you're not, and you're not desperate, you don't sign. So far, to the best of my knowledge, under Duchatelet the head coach/manager job has been offered to only two non-network guys and they both refused the terms, while the regime did not feel able to alter the terms sufficiently to persuade them to sign.
What might constitute 'unreasonable'? I think it goes without saying that no head coach/manager, English or not, with any self-respect would accept any interference on team selection. Of course an owner, CEO etc might express an opinion, even call it helpful advice. But actually go beyond that? Unacceptable. On transfers, there are two sides of the coin. No manager can have any sort of a veto on sales; a (sane) owner/CEO acts in the best interests of the club and sometimes that means selling a player a manager would like to keep - in which case a manager may point out the consequences of the sale, what it could mean for the team, indicate whether a replacement needs to be brought in from outside, or indeed quit. But what is both optimum and acceptable when it comes to transfers in? I've never been involved in football so can't say from first-hand experience what is normal, but surely a manager has to have more than just a voice in decisions. A player the manager wants may of course prove to be more expensive than the budget allows, may not want to come etc. But if the manager can be overruled and have players he does not want forced on him, he is nothing more than a first-team coach. Some may accept that, others clearly do not.
Now take it from a different angle. Voice of the Valley No 95 contained a piece by Wyn Grant comparing the Charlton team then (April 2000) and the team of 1954. Towards the end he quotes Sam Bartram: "We at Charlton have the finest team spirit in the country, and it is to that grand spirit and understanding rather than individual merit, that I owe my success". Wyn added that "those remarks also apply today" (ie 2000). Please could someone explain to me how it can be possible to generate again that kind of team spirit (which by the way was also evident under Sir Chris) if players look at the head coach and think he might choose the team for Saturday based on what the owner wants rather than what gives us the best chance of getting a result, or that the coach doesn't really want me here - or that guy over there? I would suggest it is impossible.
I don't know whether the Wilder experience will push the regime back towards another network coach or whether there has been an irreversible decision to 'go English'. Either way, the choice is going to be fraught with potential fall-out - assuming that Powell and Curbishley are out of the equation. If it's the network guy, the howls of derision will (deservedly) reach new highs. If it's an Englishman currently out of a job, the assumption will be that he was truly desperate - especially if we have the fresh debacle of the next front-runner walking away. Quite frankly, if the regime is not going to shift and give the next guy the protection he needs from unwanted and what has so far proven to be utterly useless interference they might as well just get in another lackey prepared to try to coach a disparate group that he didn't choose; they are easier and cheaper to recycle. Just don't for a moment think this can lead to success.
I honestly don't care if our next manager is English/British, Belgian, or from Timbuktu. I want him (or her) to be the best available, the one most likely to bring success (which is not to say that I have any confidence that the regime is capable of recognising the best candidate). Obviously any normal selection process would start with the assumption that someone with no experience of the English lower divisions, who may need to relocate to this country, and who may not have English as a first language (purely for communication purposes) would need to have superior skills in other areas to compensate (this does assume that there is more than one candidate, which has not necessarily been the case in the past). If before the process begins you set conditions that rule out a large number of the best candidates, and this happens regularly, either you revisit and moderate the terms or accept the chances of success with what you end up with - or ideally you conclude that your approach is not compatible with success in football and you withdraw yourself from the industry, never to return.
(I had written the above before I saw the Rick Everitt article suggesting that a sale by Duchatelet is closer than many realise, but it rounds things off nicely; if Wilder's actions do bring forward a sale he should be viewed as a Charlton hero and given an appropriate welcome if he comes to The Valley with either Sheff Utd or Northampton.)