Something of a double-whammy last night with bad news involving both of our objectives: defeat at Blackpool, in what was by all accounts a poor showing with fresh injury problems to boot, plus Karl Robinson’s reported remark that the takeover is “completely up in the air – it could be next season”.
Now Robinson isn’t exactly known for talking sense when pressed and giving an off-the-cuff remark and there’s no good reason to believe that he has suddenly been included in the very small loop which knows what’s going on (effectively just Duchatelet and to a lesser extent the potential buyers). Whichever way you look at it, it is a very silly remark to make and does him no credit. Richard Murray’s last statement was dated 28 February. He said then that “you can never tell how long lawyers will take but I’ve been informed it should be within the next few weeks”. We are still within that timeframe, so all Robinson has done is – deliberately or not – put Murray on the spot in what must be a most unwelcome fashion.
I have no idea if the sale process has indeed run aground and that Robinson was revealing actual information. Equally we can’t say whether Murray at the end of February was being over-optimistic, even deceptive. But on the latter at least you have to ask yourself why would he do that? He could for sure be misinformed himself and being used by a deluded owner, plus it’s possible that for whatever reason the chances of an imminent deal have evaporated. After all, the notion of a January/February takeover helping to reinvigorate the club and to help propel us into the play-offs with the wind in our sails has all gone (not the play-off chances per se), a new buyer would understandably be looking at whether it made sense to let Duchatelet limp on funding the losses until the end of the season. Good deals involve two satisfied parties, whatever the price. If instead the buyer believes he/she was being screwed over on the asking price, it is hardly surprising that he/she would look to lower that price in light of fresh information – and for all the talk of a price having been agreed, on a purchase nothing is agreed until a deal is signed.
All of this does put Murray – and to some extent us supporters – back on the spot. A fresh statement, or meeting with the Trust, right now might not be necessary – unless he knows that something really has happened to at least put back a sale date beyond end-March; if that is the case he should speak out now, for his own reputation. Ah, what if Roland won’t let him? Rubbish. He is a grown man and can make his own decisions, just live with the consequences if he says something that Duchatelet would rather he didn’t and was dismissed as a director. If nothing is said or done now, I’d be inclined to view end-March as the time by which either a sale has been concluded or we are given a proper update and explanation. Duchatelet has never liked the fact but we are stakeholders.
Consequently I’d be inclined to see it as premature for CARD to be organising any fresh protest at The Valley. There will be time enough for those – plus we are not yet out of the promotion race and Duchatelet doesn’t care about what happens here. However, protests in Belgium, including the splendid political party initiative, are another matter. All that can be done (within the usual parameters) to embarrass and upset the fool would be welcome. And CARD/the Trust could make it clear that in the absence of a sale it would support a boycott of buying season tickets for next season, perhaps calling on Addicks to send back early renewal forms with ‘when you sell the club’ written across them. Duchatelet is hurt by protests close to his home and when his pocket is hit. We remain victim to the whims of a dysfunctional old man, one who believes that each idea he has must be brilliant because he has had it. It’s been that way since he bought our club, may the time of his failed stewardship end soon.
As for matters on the pitch, I can’t comment on actual performances only state the obvious: that getting into the play-offs now requires a fast turnaround in form. As things stand we are not, and have not been, good enough. It isn’t impossible for that to change (and I couldn’t give a monkey’s whether or not we ‘deserve’ to be in the mix) but the chances are clearly not good.
I’d join in with belated congratulations for the Charlton Athletic Community Trust for getting us named as the London Checkatrade Community Club of the Year. It is of course ironic that we win the award at a time when we have an owner who has done more than any other to separate the club from the community, but that’s nothing to do with the efforts of Community Trust CEO Jason Morgan and his team, which have been rightly recognised (and OK, at least the regime doesn’t seem to have got in the way of this work).
The further irony of that news coinciding with the publicising of the sordid video of current and former players indulging in some drunken and very dull-witted racial abuse has been highlighted by others. The players involved let themselves down and after apologising – not in the form of ‘if we have caused offence ...’ as quite clearly they have – should have a long look at themselves in the mirror. Sure, worse things happen at sea. But did they bring the club into disrepute? Undoubtedly yes, just as Meire did with her dire ‘sex on the pitch’ advert.