Thursday, 23 February 2017

Fiddling While Rome Burns

We know now that Hollywood’s portrayal of Nero may have been an exaggeration, but you get the point. In fact if you look for some of the background – in this case lifting from www.history.com - on the phrase ‘fiddling while Rome burned’ the parallels become even more apparent.
The expression has a double meaning: not only did Nero play music while his people suffered, but he was an ineffectual leader in a time of crisis”. But Nero was only rumoured to have sung about the destruction of Troy while watching Rome burn, with no eyewitness confirmation. “When the Great Fire broke out, Nero was at his villa at Antium, some 35 miles from Rome. Though he immediately returned and began relief measures, people still didn’t trust him. Some even believed he had ordered the fire started, especially after he used land cleared by the fire to build his Golden Palace and its surrounding pleasure gardens. Nero himself blamed the Christians (then an obscure religious sect) for the fire, and had many arrested and executed.”

So we don’t really know whether the great fire, which destroyed 70% of Rome, was instigated – even ordered – by Nero, whether it was a plot by a group of zealots intent on seeing the city fail, or whether it was just an accident. What we do know is that by the time the fire happened Nero had already so burned his bridges (as it were) by his previous actions that nobody believed him, that the people he tried to blame for the disaster went from being an active minority to dominating the Western world for a long time, and that Nero’s experimental efforts to recreate Rome in his own image, including a 100ft-tall bronze statue of himself, ended in abject failure. And just four years after the fire Nero’s incompetence and arrogance saw the Pretorian guard and the Senate turn against him, declaring him an ‘enemy of the people’. Nero opted for suicide rather than arrest and execution. Apparently his last words were “what an artist dies in me”. Fast forward and we could instead have “what a scientist, politician and football visionary ...”

We read that the regime is to “begin consultation with fans on a potential restricting of the club’s Fans Forum”. You have to admire the efforts of our expensive PR team to justify their existence. The statement declaring this dramatic initiative refers throughout to ‘the club’, with no mention of Meire. It claims that at the start of the season the club made a commitment to engage with the fans “more than ever before” and that after “well-attended” meetings with “points noted and changes made”, apparently unbelievably “despite this, some supporters don’t feel fully engaged and some supporters have raised questions about the Fans Forum”. Don’t feel fully engaged. Only a PR person could write such BS when considering the situation of our club.

It’s been said many times before. The Fans Forum is a worthy and well-meaning body, albeit one with limited objectives, which has been usurped by the regime to support the pretence that it fully engages with the fan base. Because of this, for the time that the regime remains it is better discontinued and its meetings not attended. The statement says that at the latest Forum meeting the options of an independent chair and a fully elected group were discussed. It’s the regime that has devalued the Forum, not those who have given up their time and effort to help our club. Tinkering with it now will serve no purpose, just ask Nero.

On the subject of asking Nero, to my lasting shame I don’t think I can make it to Belgium on 4 March. Those who do will in the years ahead be able to look back with pride on their contribution to the ending of the Duchatelet years and the subsequent rebuilding of our club. I doubt that Nero will be around for their visit, but that’s fine. If he’s chased out of attending his home town club’s matches and events, just where will he go for his post-match dance?

As a philosophy graduate, I always have the upper hand (morally and intellectually) in discussions with friends of a more scientific bent. After all, when scientists are not scrabbling around to try and come up with some thesis based on empirical evidence which makes what we know loosely explainable and (possibly) predictable, only for that theory to be replaced when other facts contradict it, and instead embark on theoretical work they are actually doing philosophy. Some might suggest that scientists have made a more meaningful and practically beneficial contribution to humanity than philosophers, but that is a discussion for another day. The point here is evidence and what a good scientist makes of it.

Football is a zero sum game: our success is someone else’s failure (or rather vice versa). To succeed you have to outperform your peers. There are many ways this can be achieved: pouring ever-larger amounts of money into buying the best players, having an outstanding manager, a great team spirit etc. The contribution of fans can be said to be necessary but clearly not sufficient. It just goes without saying that if you have an alienated fan base you cannot succeed as a football club. All the available evidence supports this. Any intelligent scientist would consider the evidence and draw the necessary conclusions, follow the argument as they say. ‘If I want my club to succeed I need the fans on board; the fans are not on board, can I get them on board?; yes, but only by making real changes (getting rid of Meire, apologising for the mismanagement of the club etc). So if I don’t want to make the changes I can’t succeed, so should I end the experiment? It is one option, or perhaps otherwise I just really don’t care after all.’

Just a hunch on my part, but I doubt that Karl Robinson’s position is under threat despite recent results, our current standing, and our owner’s propensity to look for Christians to blame for his failings. After all, Robinson seems to have bought into (or rather been bought) the youth fish-farm approach, whether or not he has any personal financial interest in the on-sale of our players (that issue of his shareholding in Deli Ali’s agent’s company seems to have gone cold but will no doubt resurface unless answers are given). So unless for some reason of his own Duchatelet really wants to get Chris O’Loughlin in charge I can’t see the benefit in getting rid of Robinson. Only cost more money to pay him off, attract yet more ridiculing of the club, and won’t impact on which division we will be playing in next season. Of course, this is to apply logic rather than to look at the empirical evidence, so we shall wait to see just what is Nero’s pleasure.


30 comments:

Anonymous said...

an thas juss all there is to it....nice one BA

Anonymous said...

When I first read
"We read that the regime is to “begin consultation with fans on a potential restricting of the club’s Fans Forum”."
I thought there might be a typo in the sentence, but on reflection, I think it is just right!

Anonymous said...

Was Nero a xenophobia? No. The way he is portrayef as blaming those Christians, and no doubt women too, is symptomatic of moaning regime hating philosophy graduates who Nt our empire, sorry club, to fail... ��

a2c said...
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Blackheath Addicted said...

Thanks guys, and apologies for the typo. Guess we are indeed into Freudian slip territory. Can't correct it now as the comment then wouldn't make sense.

Anonymous said...


I just hope the "fans" going on a piss up don't embarrass Charlton's name too much,the idea that they are heroes is hilarious. I cant stand their petty viscous child like name calling rubbish.

a2c said...
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Blackheath Addicted said...

Anon, no problem with comments outlining alternative views (only the abusive ones) but why the slander? Why call them "fans"; they are fans, period. The idea that the next protest is just a 'piss up' simply isn't true of course. Having been pulled up on a typo myself I won't dwell on the idea of their actions being 'viscous'. But is it possible for something to be both petty and vicious at the same time?

Anonymous said...

their constant moaning at all things petty and they way they express themselves is viscous " you Belgian wankers" the nabby sarr song and hey Roland why you such a C..T.

Anonymous said...

The club will die without the protestors just as it nearly did in the 1980's. A lot (if not most) of the protestors are genuine fans that have supported the club for decades. Duchatelet is killing off the club just like Becchetti is killing off Leyton Orient. Anyone that supports the regime is just part of the disease

a2c said...
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Blackheath Addicted said...

And here's the rub. I'm a protester, in my second season of boycotting games, I fully support CARD and applaud their protests for their imagination and control. I've met plenty of other protesters and know they are diehard Addicks who couldn't give a monkeys about the nationality of our owner. So when someone tries to portray them as something that they are undoubtedly not it's only natural that their motives are questioned, even if it is accepted that some genuine Addicks support the regime (or are at least against the protests). And something about sticks and stones ...

Anonymous said...

I struggle to imagine how real fans demonstrating for a cause they believe in - to the point they take peaceful protests abroad - can in any way embarrass the name of Charlton more than an abusive CEO, a sex on the pitch advert and a manager recruitment and retention policy akin to a Corbyn cabinet. Please enlighten me.

SuicidalAddick said...

Regime supporters need to start providing some back up as to why they feel everything is hunkydori at the club. Instead they turn the debate away from the future prospects of CAFC and take aim at those who want change. Why are they supportive of Roland Dutchatalet and Katrien Meire - please tell me? I really want to try and understand why you think they are doing a good job at The Valley? What evidence is there to support this? Please help me understand your pov.

Football evokes emotions, high spritis and yes foul language. I have heard it at every single game and every ground I have ever witnessed a football match at. Sometimes it's the referee, sometimes the linesman, or perhaps the striker who just missed a chance, the oppostion fans maybe and sometimes the underachieving manager or board. If we started counting the number of times an individual or individuals were abused in any way at football matches, well we might as well pack up and call it a day.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Fair points and good questions. Without wishing to put words into the mouths of regime supporters, I can only assume the attitude boils down to he rescued us (he didn't, he bought us - and overpaid), he pays the bills (which is true, although if the books balance with player sales in the third flight that argument could be eroded), and what comes next might be worse (which is always possible, however unlikely). There could be another strand, that we would all enjoy our matchday experience more if we all fell into line behind the great leader, but I'm inclined to dismiss that.

Duchatelet says he cares about the community aspect of a football club. Perhaps he might then consider the impact on our community that his ownership of our club has had - and draw the inevitable conclusion.

a2c said...
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Jay said...

BA your postings are far too long winded so I can never really be bothered to read them through. Nevertheless despite not reading them, I’m more than happy to conclude that what you say is a load of cobblers!
So it’s a bit like what you do I guess – you can’t be bothered to attend the matches but are perfectly happy to lecture us about them.

a2d said...
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Blackheath Addicted said...

I don't mind being called a long-winded old git, could be a grain of truth there - although posts will continue to be as long or as short as I want to make them, it is my bloody blog.

But 'can't be bothered to attend the matches ..?' How bloody dare you. How dare you try to make such a suggestion. I don't feel a need to defend my life-long record as a supporter. Enough to say that like many others I was a season ticket holder and will be one again as soon as they are gone, I badly miss going to watch the team that I love and that's not going to change, however long it takes.

SuicidalAddick said...

Why bother coming to this site if you find the writing too long winded and a load of cobblers? Just to shit on someone else's effort? Just doesn't make any sense to me at all. Explain please?

Jay said...

I'm sure that's exactly what Roland feels! - it's his bloody club and he'll continue to run it his way!! (Though I do believe he has taken a different approach this season)

Jay said...

I was making a point about people getting entrenched in their own position and being judgemental without looking at the whole picture.

SuicidalAddick said...

If that is how he feels, why does he continue to own the club? is he enjoying the experience and what are his objectives for the club in this experiment? We don't know of course, he hasn't atteneded a game in 3 years (even longer than Blackheath Addick), we are only 1% of his time so barely any significance at all. I see no change.

Jay said...

I don't know Roland so can't speak for him but I imagine that he really isn't enjoying the experience and probably wishes he had never bought the club. But he has become entrenched - like the protesters - he won't back down as a matter of pride. I do think that he has seen his experiment hasn't worked so has tried English managers and players this season - sadly this strategy doesn't seem to be working either. No sinister cunning master plan - just a bit of a mess.
Just my opinion

a2c said...
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Blackheath Addicted said...

Fair enough Jay. Daft thing is if he was interested he could still get the fans fully on board - but that would involve changes and compromises. Regularly insulting them doesn't help; and you'd hope that if he was looking at it as a bit of a mess he'd be at least inclined to talk to potential buyers and not bandy around daft numbers (if these reports are true).

Jay said...

Yes nothing personal we all love CAFC and I do enjoy reading your blog - just trying to give a bit of balance !
Keep blogging and hoping for better times!

Jay said...

I see Claudio Ranieri got sacked tonight - putting aside the sour grapes I have around him and the S.Parker move to Chelsea - I think this is very harsh. Brings home to me the very fine line there is between success and failure. Tuesday night was pretty dire , but we hit the crossbar twice and the post, the players really did try and I don't believe deserved the chorus of boos - on another night if those chances had gone in it would have been a different experience.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Fine margins indeed. If memory serves me well, although we were dire we had a good chance at Bramall Lane that went begging just before Sheff Utd scored their first. If we'd taken the lead and held on, Meire and Sir Chris would have swung together on the crossbar, Powell could not have been sacked at that point (no doubt it would have followed shortly after if he continued to hold out on his new contract) with a Wembley semi-final to come ...

For me fine margins underline how unlikely it is that we can succeed without a change of ownership. And neither 'side' can say it's been fun: we suffer our club's decline while being insulted by an absent owner, he doesn't seem to get anything out of it either. Better times will indeed come, just wish they'd hurry up.

a2c said...
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