Life’s full of little ironies as they say. Was it so long ago that the regime was refusing to treat The Trust as a suitable partner for ‘meaningful dialogue’ with supporters, insisting instead – for duplicitous reasons - that the worthy but compromised Fans Forum was the chosen vehicle? Meire does a runner before finding herself out of a job and suddenly first up it’s The Trust that Richard Murray turns to in order to communicate information on the takeover.
It’s taken a while for the club to shift in the direction of sanity when it comes to dealings with a major stakeholder – and always potential partner. The regime was never interested in dialogue with fans, for Roland would do it his way and we had to ‘live with it’. It’s taken the departure of Meire and the progressive distancing of Big Daddy for change to come, even if the club and its expensive PR team rather missed a trick by waiting until CARD’s threatened protest before agreeing to communicate. No matter, let’s not split hairs.
I think it’s fair to say that the meeting produced all that was realistic in terms of updates on where we stand. It’s been suggested that Murray might have been pushed more on the price that Duchatelet is asking for us. But Murray apparently told The Trust that he is “not party to negotiations at all” and surely such information would be viewed as confidential. Chances are it’s going to be some time after any sale before we have an inkling of the terms and price, if we ever do.
For me the most important point was in the first line of The Trust’s account: “He (Murray) began by emphasising that the most significant point was that Roland has made up his mind to sell the club”. Of course he could change his mind, but that's not likely. The decision not to replace Meire was surely indicative in that respect. So whether a sale happens before the transfer window closes, in February (Murray's "most likely month"), or "at the latest by this summer", it is on. There's just no reason to suspect any double-dealing.
So what do we, the fans – especially the boycotting fans – do about it. And here comes today’s second little irony. If I were not living in France (at least until end-March) I would resume going to matches. Sure, there’s been no actual change of ownership yet, but that’s only a matter of time. I don’t think there’s anything more that boycotting can achieve in terms of encouraging Duchatelet to sell (whether or not it did anything is a moot point), so now surely it’s just down to what we want: we want new owners (almost achieved) and we want to get promoted.
We are after all in a play-off spot! What’s to be gained by waiting another month or so until an actual sale? We have the opportunity both to give potential new owners a glimpse of what The Valley can look and feel like when there’s a good crowd. And surely a fuller stadium getting even more behind the team will only help Robinson and the team. The season looked like floundering a few weeks ago but the team eeked out a couple of ugly wins and momentum can count for a lot. After all, we’re now within striking distance of fifth. I can’t comment on they way the team is performing on the pitch, but just how we’ve got to where we are is surely less important than taking advantage of it.
So I’d suggest that the time is right for The Trust, in collaboration with CARD, to issue a joint call to all Addicks who have stopped attending to come back, to help in a promotion push. This wouldn’t mean any change in attitude towards Duchatelet (or prevent a resumption of boycotts and protests if there are reasons to do so further down the line). All along protesters have been acting in what they believe to be the best interests of our club. Perhaps now the downside of giving the regime a little gate money (no, not season tickets) are outweighed by the possibility of ending the season under new owners back in The Championship.