Football in general may not yet be into the silly season - there remain small matters such as Man Utd lifting the cup, Walsall or Barnsley confirming a place in the Championship, and some international tournament soon to get underway in France - but as far as our club is concerned it began once the protests at the Burnley game came to a conclusion. It's always a dangerous time of thin news when groundless rumours can abound; sometimes it's necessary to knock these on the head before they gain traction.
I can for example confirm that contrary to speculation the regime is active and fully focused on filling key positions at our club. I know this to be true as I happened to see an ad for a work experience day for people to get a taste of being a steward at The Valley. We'll gloss over the cheap jokes, such as don't bother coming along if you're parents were married, but should be able to save some hopefuls' time: if you are happy to be instrumental in helping an appallingly-run company headed by near-universally despised (for good reason) senior management, one which needs as much protection as possible from law-abiding, peaceful and innovative protesting customers and which will probably not be around for much longer, get down there asap, it could be the career for you. Charlton Athletic may not have a manager, may have a plethora of unfilled positions off the pitch (and the prospect of plenty on it before long), but as long as we have enough stewards the Football League can continue to absurdly praise the regime, Pinocchio can sleep soundly, and our usually-absent owner can relax, knowing that his money is being well spent.
I do have to confess to moments of concern for Ms Meire in the wake of her comments from the audience at the recent London conference. People do crack up and nobody wants to see a young person with talents - albeit talents not suited to running a football club - succumb to the pressure of being in an invidious situation. But despite the embarrassment she herself must be feeling at what she said and the damage to the club's reputation that she caused, she has not resigned (or been sacked, as she should have been). There's been no public apology or retraction, so we can only assume that she actually believes what she said. Pinocchio In Cloud Cuckoo Land sounds like a particularly dire Disney concoction; but as this regime has turned our club into a laughing stock perhaps it is apt.
So no more sympathy, just a note of congratulations to CARD for the quick reaction to news of the planned 'networking' breakfast at The Valley featuring Ms Meire. The need to do all we can to facilitate and encourage a change of ownership of our club remains as pressing as ever and, although naturally protests will be more sporadic and probably less visible ahead of at least pre-season friendlies, this doesn't mean any change in attitude. That applies whoever the next manager/head coach proves to be, and whatever players leave and arrive. The regime pushed us into these obvious and necessary conclusions some time ago.
And so to the Lyon Duchere update as the fight for promotion from France's CFA Groupe B to National (the third division) saw round 28 (of 30) take place over the weekend. First up were Duchere, on Saturday evening. They did their bit, with what looks like a fairly routine 2-0 win at home against mid-table Mulhouse. It was a bank holiday weekend for France (please don't upset my partner Suzanne by suggesting that the French have holidays for everything as she may point out that, unlike in the UK, when holidays fall over a weekend, such as 1 May this year, there is no day in lieu) and the match for promotion rivals Grenoble didn't take place until Monday. Unfortunately they ground out a 1-0 win at home against (also mid-table) Monts d'Or Azergues.
So it's no change at the top. Duchere have a one-point lead with now only two games to go, just two more victories needed. The problem is that on paper at least they have by a distance the tougher of the fixtures: they will be away to Auxerre B, currently third in the league, in round 29 and then at home to Olympique Lyonnais B, currently fourth, on the final day; Grenoble will be at home to Montceau-les-Mines, who are placed 13th out of 16, and then away at Le Puy, who are 14th. Of course this is football, (unfortunately for our owner) it can't be reduced to an engineering equation or legal precedent. Grenoble's two opponents are both in a desperate struggle to avoid relegation (the bottom three of 16 go down), whereas Duchere's games are against the reserve teams of clubs which have already concluded their seasons, with most first-team players presumably either on the beach or preparing for the European Championship. Just how their reserve teams feel about still being required to be fit and ready for an extra few weeks (the final round of games is not until 4 June) is anyone's guess.
It could all be over on 28 May, if Duchere win and Grenoble lose in round 29, possibly even if Duchere win and Grenoble only draw (I'm still not 100% sure on the way teams on the same number of points are ranked - I sent Suzanne back to France on Monday with a mission to find out). This is after all a league in which the goals don't exactly flow; Duchere and Grenoble are the joint highest scorers but have only managed 38 goals in 28 games (while conceding 17 and 19 respectively). But the odds surely favour Duchere needing to win those final two games to go up. If they do, they will have earned it for sure - and while such an achievement may not match that of Leicester for pure delight (and publicity), in terms of resources and progress (it would be their second promotion in around five years) it will be something to celebrate, in this particular part of south-east London at least.