Wednesday 28 October 2009

Form And Structure

I can’t help feeling a bit of a wally beginning a post with ‘sorry I haven’t written much recently’ (Robert Peston began his latest BBC blog post with a similar phrase, but then he is a wally who doesn’t seem to realise that his minute of fame – offered him by officials wanting to leak some information – has passed). It implies that there is someone out there reading this, that there is someone out there reading this and who is sad enough to realise that there hasn’t been much posted recently, and that there is someone out there reading this who is sad enough to realise that there hasn’t been much posted recently and who gives a monkey’s. But there we are.

The weeks ahead are going to be sparse for me as well. Having only belatedly woken up to the fact that I wanted to go to the Gillingham game, by which time all the tickets had sold out, work commitments (Amsterdam on Monday) prevent a return to Carlisle, then a week in Lyon rules out both Northwich Victoria away in the cup and the home game against Milton Keynes Dons. Unless I can squeeze in Yeovil away, my next game will not be until Bristol Rovers. (Not strictly true as while in Lyon I will be going to watch Lyon Duchere take on Lyon B in the local derby; I hope to post a report on events, although given that Duchere – who stand sixth in their league with a game in hand, with Lyon B top – have managed eight goals in nine games and conceded just two, with Lyon B letting in just nine in 10, I’m not anticipating a goal fest; in the two-and-a-half Lyon Duchere games I’ve seen they haven’t managed to score a goal.)

So this will have to do for a while. Two issues: ownership of the club and the team’s formation. I’ll try to keep it short, but .....

On the former, I’m sure we’re all delighted if the reports that Dennis Wise-led consortium has pulled out of buying Charlton are true. Delight will be complete if we later learn that David Gold buys West Ham (or anyone apart from us). I’m one of the few people (it seems) that don’t resent Wimbledon having upped sticks and gone to Milton Keynes. It could have been us (there was speculation of such a move many years ago) and the bottom line is that in both cases the clubs were facing financial ruin, or stagnation at best. If I was the owner of Wimbledon then I would have done something similar. Our salvation came from the wake-up call that was leaving The Valley, however painful it was at the time. We were lucky that we moved in a fashion that was never going to work (barring a merger with Palace), had a great manager in Lennie and secured promotion to help paper over some of the cracks. The triumphant return, the forging of bonds between supporters and the owners of the club, plus the next great manager in Curbs paved the way for the glory years pre-Dowie.

Of course this is all in the past. If Richard Murray and his board decide that selling to Gold makes sense for them, and in their opinion the club, that is their right. They own the club, and I can’t see my few shares forming a blocking vote. Equally, our right is to disagree – and decide on the implications. Personally, if Gold takes over the first inclination is to tear up the season ticket and to walk away. On further consideration I guess I’d want to hear what he would have to say (something along the lines of ‘no, I didn’t buy Charlton because I failed to buy West Ham’), then decide.

I have absolutely no problem with the club being sold, whether or not it involved overseas investors. But let’s consider an ideal and worst case scenario. The former would be say Dubai/Middle East money coming in, with Murray/Varney retained to run the club; the latter would be being bought by Ken Bates. My gut reaction is that Gold (and Wise) are far closer to Bates. Of course I want to see us back in the Premiership, at least the Championship, but the rebirth of the club was founded on a certain approach and sensitivities which if ditched would leave me at least questioning if it’s a price worth paying. I don’t like life in this division (I still tend to feel that if we win we’ve beaten some rubbish and if we don’t something’s badly wrong – I know it’s not a useful approach and I’m trying to adjust), but we’ve seen it before and it’s better than selling our soul ... and not even for Wales.

As regards team formation, having missed Gillingham I can’t really comment on how well 4-4-2 is really working on the basis of just the Huddersfield game. But the bottom line is that no formation in football is perfect and the simple rule it to play to your strengths. We have (in my view) a capable defence which should continue to improve with familiarity, with cover for all positions. Up front we have currently a choice of one or two from four - Burton, McLeod, Mooney and Tuna, assuming McKenzie is out for a while. Burton began the season is fine form (albeit benefiting from some horrible opposition gaffes), playing as the lone striker, McLeod has come in and still hints that he can deliver the goals we need. But Burton and McLeod together didn’t seem to me to work well (as always, time and increased familiarity may prove this wrong), Mooney is an unknown quantity (for me at least), and it’s clear from bringing him in that Tuna is considered at least not yet ready to start a league game.

In midfield we have Semedo, Spring, Racon, Bailey, Sam, Wagstaff, Shelvey, plus (potentially) Basey, Stavrinou, Holden and (perhaps, one day) Sinclair. That is a line-up which should do well in the Championship, never mind this league, and is our core strength. Shelvey has been rested and I hope is straining for a return, Spring did a decent job covering for Semedo, who is now back. Consider the options in midfield against those up front if we play 4-4-2.

For me perhaps most important is that if we begin a game playing 4-4-2 with Burton and McLeod the options for change are very limited. Basically it’s bring on Mooney for either (or start with Mooney and McLeod with Burton in reserve; he may be due a breather). You make a change up front if it isn’t working or you are chasing the game, which doesn’t make it easy to take off a central striker and bring on Shelvey.

We have come up against teams (well, Oldham) intent on shutting up shop at The Valley and denying us space. In those circumstances 4-4-2 clearly makes sense. Being ready and able to switch to that is a necessity. But otherwise I’m inclined to see 4-5-1 as our best starting option, especially away. Burton has played best so far on his own, with Semedo back Racon is free to do his stuff, and Shelvey comes back in (which despite indifferent form leading up to the change in formation is still a big plus).

Saturday 17 October 2009

Much-Needed Win, But Peuvent Mieux Faire

What’s best, to focus on the positive or the negative? This was a game that could easily have ended with any combination up to perhaps 4-4. We were pretty much outplayed in the first half and, having switched to 4-4-2, looked ordinary. But we did improve in the second half and today was just about getting back to winning ways. Against a tough and capable team we did indeed win. Good enough for me. Time enough to consider the problems later on, as we look down on the rest of the division.

In the event Parkinson opted for the change in formation, despite McKenzie having a ‘setback’ and not being available. That meant Burton and McLeod up front, with loan signing Mooney on the bench, and Shelvey dropping out. Sodje was preferred to Llera in central defence and there was no immediate return for Semedo – a decision that, to Parkinson’s credit (and not a criticism of Spring), was rectified at half-time, a change that quite possibly won us the game.

If ever there can be a case of scoring too soon this was it. An early corner saw Sodje completely unmarked around the penalty spot and he buried the header. This may have encouraged us to sit back a little. Whatever the reason, Huddersfield went on to dominate possession, winning the midfield battle. That provided the platform for them to create a number of opportunities, while for us, with Sam having a poor half and Burton and McLeod getting little change from their defence – or the referee (and to be fair to him McLeod’s attempts to win penalties were rightly denied) – we had no outlets. Despite the efforts of Racon and Youga to get things moving, we gave the ball away cheaply and far too often. Huddersfield had half-chances and for a while it looked as though we might make it to the break in front, which for any neutral would have looked like something of a steal. However, a free kick was given for another trip, by Spring, and their guy from some way out smashed a shot in off the post. Elliot had no chance, the only question arising being whether someone on the line would have been better (well, it couldn’t have turned out any worse).

At the break it appeared that the switch in formation left us looking ordinary, with two forwards struggling to get involved and a lightweight central midfield being overrun. Better finishing and but for some resolute defending, including from Bailey, and we could easily have been a couple of goals down. A change was needed and Semedo came on for Spring. Again, it’s not a criticism of Spring that it was a necessary move. We had to get more muscle in midfield and to Parkinson’s credit he didn’t wait.

The result was an evenly contested second half and a more entertaining one. It was of course helped by the fact that we again scored early, from another set piece (Shelvey not taking them and suddenly we start scoring from them). A ball into the box was headed on by Sodje and on again, over the keeper, by McLeod. Good goal, well taken. Just a little surprising to see the shirt come off again and another yellow card; do it when you score after a long drought, like a couple of weeks ago against Exeter, but don’t make a habit of it, even after last Saturday’s misses.

After that both sides could/should have scored more. For us, Sam, who improved in the second half, played in Racon, but he delayed the shot and allowed a defender to get in to block. McLeod was played through but couldn’t get the shot away and was left once more appealing in vain for a penalty. But Huddersfield had enough chances too, especially one at the far post that should have been buried. They had the ball in the net but the referee had already blown for a foul. Sodje and Dailly were dealing well with the succession of long throws and corners and if anything, as they became more desperate and increasingly resorted to long balls hit forward, Huddersfield became less effective. That they were no longer going through our midfield had a lot to do with Semedo. Wagstaff came on for Sam and almost created a goal with a good run and cross, while late on Mooney replaced McLeod and looked lively. Despite five minutes of added time (probably the minimum we could have expected, given five substitutions and a number of injury breaks) we were able to see the game out.

The pluses? Elliot had an excellent game, with some good saves and no errors with high balls; Sodje and Dailly stood up extremely well to the task at hand, while Youga was impressive at the back and going forward. And again, Semedo made a key contribution. The negatives? Burton and McLeod didn’t look like a partnership waiting to take off, Racon was not as effective as previously in a tough encounter, and perhaps most telling the jury has to be out on whether the chance in formation worked. It seemed to me that it exposed more weaknesses than enhanced strengths and could be seen as an over-reaction to last Saturday’s game. Perhaps the key message is that if we stick with it there’s no place in the starting XI for Shelvey and Semedo (or Bailey) becomes essential to stiffen the central midfield, especially against teams like Huddersfield.

Let’s take the win and move on. Especially as after having managed to make a complete pig’s ear of cooking last night (smoked duck is a delicacy, but burnt duck, chicken, pork and potatoes is inedible) it’s dining out for Suzanne tonight.

Player Ratings:

Elliot: 9/10. No chance with the goal and did everything else right.

Richardson: 7/10. Caught out some times, especially in the first half, but overall not bad and played his part in a sterling defensive display.

Youga: 8/10. Sometimes goes forward as if to show how it’s done. But today the defensive work was equally important and he stood up well.

Sodje: 8/10. Scored one, gets the assist for the other, and headed away countless balls.

Dailly: 8/10. Especially impressive first half, when we were under pressure.

Bailey: 7/10. For defensive work the mark would have been higher as he made a number of timely challenges and interceptions, but had little impact going forward.

Spring: 6/10. The physical limitations of Spring and Racon together in central midfield were exposed today; not really his fault.

Racon: 6/10. Never stopped running, but has to take as much of the rap as Spring for the first half performance.

Sam: 6/10. Disappointing game. Failed to threaten in the first half, or to make the most of extra space and time in the second, but gets an extra mark for hte pass through to Racon which should have brought a goal.

Burton: 5/10. Struggled with little to feed off and usually brushed off the ball by strong defenders.

McLeod: 6/10. Scored the winner well, but didn’t take other opportunities and went down too easily.


Semedo: 9/10. His half-time introduction made the difference for the second half.

Wagstaff: 7/10. One very good moment and did his part in running down the clock.

Mooney: 7/10. Not much time to impress, but looked lively enough.

Friday 16 October 2009

Huddersfield Options

It’s fair to say that for the first time in a while there are some serious selection issues for Parkinson to consider for tomorrow, more down to the shape of the team than injuries and availability. As ever, it should be down to the manager and his people, who are obviously far better placed to assess who is looking fit and sharp in training - and to judge which formation would be best suited for a home game but one against a side that the manager has said likes to play a more open and adventurous game than Oldham (which is not saying much). So my one hope is that whatever team takes to the pitch, the crowd back it – not to start whining about the choices made if we’re not 2-0 up in the first 10 minutes.

It’s not so long ago, when 1-0 down away at Orient, that the Charlton fans started up the chant of ‘4-4-2’, just before we equalised (and went on to win the game). It’s fair to say, as others have, that an earlier change to that set-up would have been a better option last Saturday. But this is another game, against different opponents, and the selection options are in my view nowhere near as simple as ‘it’s a home game and we need two outright forwards on the pitch from the start’. We have played some excellent football – and won most games – with Burton effectively on his own and Shelvey in the hole. It’s just that teams are doing their homework now, some we have played recently have been better than those early on, and we haven’t been able to produce the same fluidity as before. If Parky feels that we still can, and that the key players are raring to go, starting with 4-5-1 and being ready to switch if things don’t go to plan still looks like a good option to me.

The key issues would seem to be first, whether Burton, who has faded of late, is really fit and up to task to play on his own; second, whether Shelvey is tired and needs a rest; third, whether Semedo is ready to start. If the answers are ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘yes’, I would have Semedo in for Spring and the rest as before (the only decision for the defence is whether Sodje comes in for Llera, which given that Big Mig was capable against Oldham would be down to Parkinson’s assessment of Huddersfield’s forward strengths/weaknesses). Spring has done nothing wrong (according to colleagues he was poor away at Colchester, but that was a bad day all round) and in other circumstances would merit a starting place. But in other circumstances Bailey would not be playing wide left. The cliché about a boat sometimes going faster with a crew composed not necessarily of the fastest individual rowers holds good. Semedo seems to bring the best out of Racon and to provide the muscle in central midfield to enable us to dominate teams; I’ve always tended to see Spring as the natural back-up for Racon, not Semedo. He’s been asked to do a more defensive job than normal and has done it well and without (apparent) complaint. But if the best guy for that job is now available again he should come back in.

It has been asking a lot to play Shelvey unceasingly, but he is crucial to the 4-5-1 approach. It seems to me that he’s been a little out of sorts in recent games and giving him a rest would be no surprise. In that event it’s a case of selecting the best forward combination, not necessarily just bringing in McKenzie to partner Burton. It would be brave of Parkinson to pick McLeod from the start (and if he did the last thing we would need would be groans from the crowd – he would need all the support we could give him), given the horrible misses against Oldham, but again two up front is about partnerships and aside from the finishing those two looked good together. To me it would be any two from Burton, McKenzie, McLeod and Tuna – but if Shelvey and Burton are considered fully fit the question may well not arise. After all, its a lot easier to switch to 4-4-2 than change from it during a game.

We all have our opinions and whatever choices Parkinson makes will be open to doubt. But as ever I’m in favour of keeping any reservations for post-match reflections, not to be aired a few minutes into the game. It is a match that we do really need to win to get things back on course – and to send Suzanne back to France happy. As she is from Lyon (and her hairdresser is a relative of Karim Benzema, who according to the reports is a closet Addick and best buddies with Youga), Kelly, please keep the overhead kicks an inch or two lower and the shots after taking on the entire defence an inch or two inside the post. Otherwise more of the same please.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Unsubstantiated Gossip

Much as I might like to, I seldom get involved in gossip concerning Charlton - usually because I'm usually the last to hear anything interesting. But in the interest of impartial dissemination of information (however scurrilous), and given that our current status means that gossip in the media is in very short supply, I was sent the following (apparently posted on some North London message board) by a fellow Addick. As he pointed out, you can assess the reliability of the source by the absurd description it contains of Spurs:

"Been speaking to a mate that is currently on the verge of breaking into Charlton 1st team and have some interesting news. I am an Arsenal fan so have no bias opinion or info regarding what i've been told. Firstly Jonjo turned down Chelsea not solely down to 1st team football appeal but he was hoping for a move to Spurs who have a knack for bringing through young British players, this will go through in summer as he is helping Charlton's promotion push so has agreed not to seek a move till then. Bailey has long been on clubs' wishlist and spoke of his desire to one day move on to greater things but currently is enjoying his football and wearing the armband. Dickson wants to stay with Charlton and not be offloaded in any deal to bring in Simeon Jackson in January, he just wants to be given the chance and will spend his time at Bristol trying to impress Parky. Charlton will be signing a striker in the next window and names around the training ground are Tresor Kandol or Bret Pitman, also they are touted to move for Robin Shroot, a young attacking midfielder who plays for Birmingham and has gone back to the club after a loan spell at Burton Albion, one for the future and could be Shelvey replacement? Parky is very happy at the moment with his squad but will be tinkering come January, loan deals are unlikely as he likes players who are proud to wear the shirt and fight for the cause, last season's number of loanees proved to be costly."

Saturday 10 October 2009

Izzy Whizzy Just Got Missy

Disappointing all round: for the rather laboured and uninspiring first-half display, for the failure to take the chances when they came later in the game, and for the stifling of the game by a well-organised but desperately dull Oldham team. It’s still far from a crisis, but one win in six in the league and three games without a goal are starting to look a little indicative. Against that, it was a match we should have won and the same could be said for at least two more of the six; we have only lost one; and whereas in the early games we were getting the breaks (at both ends) of late things just haven’t quite been breaking our way. Yes, you make your own luck, but sometimes – like today – you just need one to go in off someone’s bum. In the event the key chances fell to McLeod and he would have been better off trying to use his bum rather than his feet and head.

With Richardson and Sam both passed fit, the line-up was entirely predictable, ensuring that Llera retains the rather unwelcome distinction of being the only unenforced change in the league so far. It was important that he had a good game and, while not perhaps as commanding as in some earlier games, he did. Indeed, the defence as a whole coped quite comfortably with the limited and progressively infrequent attempts by Oldham to get forward. There were to be one or two iffy moments, including their winger getting the wrong side of Richardson and a couple of back passes that nearly went awry. But really the problems were going forward, especially in the first half.

We started rather slowly and that set the pattern, as Oldham were winning midfield battles and our attempts to pass around and through them too often foundered. They’d clearly done their homework, doubling up on Sam and at every opportunity showing him the inside, keeping the ball off his right foot. But whereas we were sticking to the passing game, there was – as against Exeter - insufficient energy and zip to it, with the result that Oldham kept their shape and waited for us to give the ball away, which happened too often as players struggled for an outlet, with Burton well marshalled and Shelvey struggling to have an impact.

There were sporadic good moments in the first half, usually the result of intelligent running by Racon, linking up with Sam on the right. Bailey shot wide, Llera moved forward and drilled in a shot which their keeper turned around, and both Bailey and Sam got into good positions only to deliver poor crosses. For what it’s worth, in one of their rare forays forward I thought Oldham had a stone-wall penalty for a trip, but the referee – who made a few odd decisions but hardly deserved the boos reserved for him at the end – indicated there had been contact with the ball. I didn’t see it. The nearest we came to breaking through was when Spring turned to create space for the shot outside the box, but his curling effort just failed to come back enough (for an instant it looked as if it had found the bottom corner).

The first half ended with Oldham for the most part looking comfortable. More effort and an injection of pace and urgency were clearly required for the second half if we were to unsettle them. With no sign of this early on changes were only a matter of time. McLeod came on for a disappointing Shelvey – and was to prove the key figure. The extra body – and not long afterwards the greater physical presence of McKenzie, who replaced Burton (who was disappointing overall but I thought had a good case for a penalty as a tug prevented him getting on the end of a good cross from the right) – started to force mistakes from their back four, while Youga became increasingly prominent going forward, often looking like taking them all on – and nearly succeeding.

However, first McLeod miskicked badly in a good position, then from a corner peeled away well to the far post only to make an awful mess of heading the ball into the net. Llera clipped the crossbar from a set piece and then the chance of the match. Good work down the left saw the ball squared and it ran through to McLeod. He managed not to make proper contact in what was a horrible miss, giving every impression of a rabbit in the headlights. There was still time for an excellent overhead kick to thump against the bar (I’m not sure who it was by, it could have been McLeod or Racon but someone said it was Youga). But we hadn’t taken the chances and even two yellow cards for time-wasting and five extra minutes (despite only four substitutions and the trainer not coming on) failed to produce the breakthrough.

What to make of it? First off, the teams we’ve played of late have not been gifting us the goals that came our way in the early matches (usually to Burton’s benefit) and our start has clearly encouraged teams to shut up shop at The Valley and be happy with a point. Spring has played well in the matches I’ve seen, including today, but it seems to me that we are missing Semedo’s physical presence when it comes to dominating teams in midfield. And while we continue to play the passing game, to my mind it hasn’t been done with the necessary movement and change of tempo, making it much easier for teams to keep their shape and sit behind the ball without really being stretched. Any thoughts that we can breeze through this division have really gone and, like today, sometimes we will have to roll up the sleeves and work harder. So, no crisis but a real need to win next Saturday’s tough test.

Player Ratings:

Elliot: 7/10. Had most problems from back passes and increasingly a spectator as the game wore on.

Richardson: 7/10. At least one bad moment in the first half, when it seemed he might have been feeling the injury, but played his part getting forward in the second.

Youga: 8/10. Not far off winning the game for us, providing excellent options going forward and no gaffes at the back.

Llera: 7/10. Good, solid performance, which is just what was needed. Almost scored with a header.

Dailly: 7/10. Composed and assured, although it wasn’t difficult to look good as a defender in the second half as Oldham sat back.

Bailey: 6/10. Honest enough performance, plenty of work, but struggled to make things happen going forward.

Spring: 7/10. Nothing wrong with his display, other than his shot was a few inches wide.

Racon: 7/10. Was our brightest player in the first half; I just felt that when we were pressing the game with two up front he was playing the same game as before when the needs had perhaps changed.

Sam: 5/10. Oldham did a job on him and Sam was unable to do anything about it; no complaints at being replaced by Wagstaff late on.

Shelvey: 5/10. Not a good game and against a defensive team was unable either to support Burton or really bolster the midfield.

Burton: 5/10. Disappointing. Got very little change from their central defenders and was largely unable to hold up play and bring others into it.


McLeod: 4/10. Very bad misses. Every forward misses chances, but he looked like he froze at key moments. Has to just forget this game and not let it affect what might already be fragile confidence. His pace and mobility actually caused Oldham problems and he could easily have been the match-winner rather than the villain.

McKenzie: 7/10. Made a difference when he came on, by unsettling their defence. My first sight of him and so far so good.

Wagstaff: 6/10. Little time to have an impact.

Thursday 8 October 2009

No Pleasing Some People

That’s dunroamin for another month and, having had to forego Barnet, the appetite for a home game is building. I don’t think anyone’s in any doubt that two in a row offer the opportunity to if not catch Leeds then put some distance between us and the chasing pack. That’s not to suggest that either Oldham or Huddersfield will be easy, especially with injury concerns; rather that after the shock of Colchester and the stabilisation of the point at Leeds we should find out whether we are truly on track or whether we should be looking more seriously at one win in five league games.

Given that we could easily have won two more of those five (Southampton – if the linesman hadn’t ruled out a perfectly good goal – and Norwich) we can I think for the moment just view Colchester as one of those days. We’ll have a better idea in 10 days’ time (and note to team, my partner Suzanne will be at the Huddersfield game, so a comprehensive victory would go some way to ensuring joy and mirth through the weekend).

Any time Oldham is mentioned there’s the opportunity to reminisce about the great Peter Hunt goal that never was, many moons ago. For anyone who hasn’t been repeatedly bored by us old farts, we were in danger of not winning a match that we had thought done and dusted as Oldham pulled back to 3-2 when Hunt shot into the side netting. All the players moved back for the goal kick, only to notice the referee running back to the centre circle. He truly was the only person in the ground who thought the ball went in. Never mind, it was his opinion that counted – and who are we (never mind the players) to question the capabilities of the officials. I’ve never sounded Scottish or been called Fergie.

There was one disappointment on return to the UK, namely that there’s still no indication from the club about the nature of the £7m fresh investment by the directors. Maybe the information is stuck at post offices throughout the country, maybe I've missed something, but the opportunity to pass on the information in the Exeter programme was passed up. Whereas we’ve been given chapter and verse about why the Championship goals DVD has not yet appeared (and the letter sent out about this was welcome and appropriate, giving people the opportunity to request repayment if they don’t want to wait any longer), we have heard nothing about what form the new investment is to take. I guess it’s possible that the formalities haven’t yet been concluded and we will find out in due course. And yes, it does sound churlish to harp on about the injection of cash which has enabled us to keep the players we wanted to. I just still find it strange that there has been nothing said. Is the money in the form of newly issued shares, or debt, or some other instrument? Does the fresh investment involve priority claims? The previous announcement about the prospective deal to sell and lease back the training ground (and to sell some other assets) to directors was followed by an appropriate circular, but this time there’s been nothing. Is there an EGM planned to approve the investment?

The directors may feel that none of us are interested in such matters. If so, they are wrong. Supporters of football clubs, especially those outside the top two divisions (where the income they provide are of far greater relative importance), are de facto stakeholders in the club, even though of course any decisions taken by the board would be voted through. Perhaps (and I truly hope not) they feel that being asked to clarify the mechanism by which they are putting money into the club smacks of ingratitude. That would be an error. The board has the backing, respect and admiration of the vast majority of supporters (provided of course there is no intention of selling out to someone like Sullivan and any of his cohorts); equally, the extended period of silence about the prospective takeover, whether or not for good reason, caused some disquiet and extra effort to communicate now would not go amiss – and communication doesn’t mean saying a lot about matters you are happy to disclose.

Otherwise the danger is encouraging a rather jaundiced view of other statements. For example, the club has announced the appointment to the board of Stuart Butler-Gallie as an “independent, non-executive” director. It seems he is a Charlton supporter and if having him on the board is deemed worthwhile that’s of course fine and nobody’s business but the board (assuming this does not involve increased expenditure). But to present someone who provides services to the club, presumably for appropriate remuneration, as “independent” sounds a bit silly. I’m not an expert on the formal requirements in the UK for non-exec directors, but even the Wikipedia definition states that the person should not be an employee of the company (fine) or be affiliated with it in any other way (and for what it’s worth, a quick Google search confirmed that at least in Hong Kong one of the requirements of an independent, non-exec director is that he/she “does not have any interests other than the remuneration paid by the company” for director services). Presumably Mr Butler-Gallie (or his company) will continue to be paid for his services as company secretary and legal advisor; perhaps it will save the club money to cut these payments and include a director’s pay. But to suggest that he is an independent director at least sounds misleading.

The club decided to terminate the role of a supporters’ director and I for one didn’t criticise the move (nor the role of the Fans Forum). There are conflicts of interest which can arise. However, the end of the role would at least appear to have been followed by instances where communication between the board and the supporters seems to have fallen short of previous standards. It may be coincidence, but again a little extra effort would seem to me at least to be appropriate, not least to put a stop to thoughts that the board has developed a little siege mentality.