Friday, 14 March 2014

Support The New Group

I’d no intention of posting anything while away in France, although the decisions that had been hanging when I set off were taken (and might be obvious to anyone who’d read what’s gone before). Just as I had no desire to watch a Charlton game on Wednesday night with ambivalent feelings (I left after the Chris Powell tribute), I have no desire to be writing anything negative ahead of crucial games (I booked this trip before the Bournemouth game was rearranged and regret not being there to contribute to the tribute for Yann that he too deserves, but planned the return for next Friday so that I would make the home game the following day).
However, the post by Wyn Grant detailing the statement by “a group of well-known Charlton supporters” prompted a quick change of heart, only to the extent of giving the group my strong endorsement. The stated desire to engage asap with either Roland Duchatelet or Katrien Miere seems entirely right and appropriate. So is the invitation to others to join. I would expect the CAFC Trust to correctly take some time as its role is to represent Charlton fans in their entirety and no doubt there will be some who, for good reason, feel that the initiative is poorly timed and in that sense inappropriate. I don’t agree with that view, but the Trust quite rightly should take their views into account. 
Outside of that, there are naturally outliers, which is where I feel comfortable. The chances of constructive engagement with the new owner I would guess are limited, but as ever I’d be happy to be proven wrong. He is after all right and the protests of Standard Liege fans didn’t end up cutting much ice (if they are continuing my apologies). So let’s see how this one plays out. 
The case clearly isn’t as simple as ‘Back To The Valley’. Then the fight was against a council objecting to us returning to The Valley (or at worst somewhere in the area) and most of us knew that unless we did as a football club we would die a fast or slow death. The club was owned by people who wanted to return, they asked and we gave and there was unity of purpose. Now this initiative has to take on board the fact that we are in a relegation struggle and divided camps seldom succeed. So this one’s a less easy call for all Addicks right now. But all important decisions involve rejection of something attractive/the embracing of something that’s not 100% positive in the circumstances. I have no doubt which side of the fence I’m on and I fully endorse the new group’s efforts. 
There’s not the time to go into details here and now, but let’s use Yann to illustrate the two views. I suspect that Duchatelet will have looked at the statistics. Here’s a 32-year-old forward who we can get a fee for, who may only have a year or two left and little resale value after that. We have an offer, we should take it. What he will never have seen, or if he did probably wouldn’t appreciate, was Kermorgant getting clattered by an opposition defender, kicked on a dodgy ankle, and get up, puff out his chest, call the defender (perhaps also the ref) something in Breton, and dive back into the fray. We didn’t love him because he was the greatest player to turn out for Charlton (leaving aside the fact that on his day he was superb), but because he inspired – not just us but the rest of the team - by his character and response to adversity. And of course with him still with us we would have had a much better chance of avoiding relegation. As with Sir Chris, if you place no value on such qualities, which don’t appear in the statistics, you make a poor assessment of the risk/return profile. You throw the baby out with the bathwater, and we are supposed to be your children after all.


Anonymous said...

I aint supportin them n am against them n wot the supporters trust stand for cos less face it they don't represent most of the fans dahn our gaff.

Anonymous said...

Good comments BA. The new supporters group are asking questions that Charlton supporters would like answers to. CPRR

(Ignore A2C anonymous mockney cockney - a Millwall supporter putting in an appearance)

New York Addick said...

I find it curious that fans are protesting against the current owners but were relatively relaxed about the previous far more dangerous and shady ones.

Anonymous said...

that is because this is more about Powell being sacked than the ownership of the club.

Blackheath Addicted said...

NYA, I think there are reasons for this. The previous owners, who undoubtedly take their share of the blame for the current position, were reasonably transparent in objectives. They had a choice of either continuing to fund losses which - for most Championship teams - are par for the course, up the ante and invest for promotion, or look for a buyer. I think it took a little time to dawn on us that they had lost their appetite or ability to do the first, and once the Voice of the Valley had published its article on the denied dossier about a sale most of us were assuming they would sell sooner or later, so there was really nothing to protest/question. We had after all under their ownership got back to the Championship and ended up holding our own in the first season back (which is not to ignore their treatment of individuals, failure to communicate etc which did attract criticism at the time).

I don't doubt that we would have been in deep do-do if they had not found a buyer. And appreciate that Duchatelet's money does secure the future of Charlton as a going concern, which should not be overlooked.

However, the implications of Duchatelet's plan are, in my opinion, not attractive, or likely to succeed. I saw your comment about us always in a sense having been a feeder club but can't agree. I feel there is a considerable difference between selling players to fund development/pay wages and offloading players for the avowed benefit of another part of someone's consortium.

In short, the previous owners may have been shady and in it for the money but there was a sort of unity of purpose. Now there isn't.

Anonymous said...

Anything that will promote awareness that the fan base of the club has a view point is positive.

I am clear in my understanding of how this will play out.

Duchatelet has bought our club to implement his "experiment" of using us as a feeder club for Standard. Others can continue to split hairs, but he has outlined this intention.

I have little doubt, if we object to these plans we will be asked to give it a chance or a distance will be subtely imposed, an us and them line drawn. Duchatelet does not want us to lose favour with the club, because he is insistent that the clubs operates on at least a break even basis ( good luck with that!) and we are a major contributor to that revenue base.

This experiment of his is going to operate whatever our wish, it is the sole reason he has bought our club. He has admitted he knew nothing of Charlton before he compleated the purchase. It is obvious our previous owners made him a sweet deal in there desperation to salvage something out of their mess.

Feeder clubs in any sport have ony worked for a length of time with clubs where one is in the first league and the feeder is in a much lower league. The common sense behind it is understood in most sports.

Why would a Charlton supporter commit to buying a season ticket if his team is ransacked of its best player/s at each transfer window.

How can a supporter be expected to believe that Charlton have the ambition to win the league and progress if the priority of the owners is always working against putting the strongest squad together.

How can a Charlton supporter feel attachment to the squad knowing that if key players show consistent form they are moved out to satisfy the "experiment".

This "experiment" will see the attendance fall and the effect on club revenue will make the wish to break even a fantasy.

This is why the feeder club must be in much lower division so the object isn't to break even but be able to manage the overhead of the feeder club within the budget of the "experiment".

His approach will not work over the long term. Say max two seasons.

Duchatelet has a few bob,but not enought to finance a loss making club of our size for very long. Already word from Belgium is that he has wealth, but has many financial committments that need to go right or else.....

Another poster mentioned that he has a track record of moving on or losing complete interest once his intentions have floundered. He knows or cares nothing about our history or ways so that could be a good thing.

New York addick makes a fair point about our uncomfortable but relaxed acceptance of our previous owners.To the dangerous and shady labels I would add devious and utterly flexible with the truth. We are fortunate they are gone.

I think there was a reason for our behaviour to them and my angry attitude to our new owner.

Did we ever know who exactly owned our club? For so long they wanted out and we were waiting for some misguided Arab or Russian to show up and give Chris funds to buy, buy and buy.Because the promise of change was always there we accepted it.

Duchatelet is different. He has bought our club ( it could have been any club, he has no attachment in any way to what Charlton is and represents to us) to facilitate a crazy experiment and he assumes we should be grateful to go along with it. Pay up and shut up, so he can break even while unfolding the genius of his thinking upon us.

We are an integral part of his investment and he should have the decency to show us a little respect.

That is why I am angry at Duchatelet.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Anon, not for me it isn't. I believe sacking Powell was a poor move in footballing terms but the decision, the reasons behind it, timing etc act like a tipping point. Powell went because he wasn't prepared to be unable to manage.

Anonymous said...

BA, interesting to read the comments of the Addicted on various blogs over these last few days. The Sheffield United cup game was the first time I had seen the team play live this season. I felt we shaded the first half and were turning the screw in the second when Harriott had his chance. The key moment, in my view, was the Church substitution and from what I've read of other games this season, substitutions were one of SCP's weaknesses. Up to that point, Church had tirelessly chased every ball down and made himself a nuisance - this is what he does. However, within moments of him going off, we were one down, and it was all over. In my view Chris Powell was sacked due to the team's league form (bottom of the table at the time) and a hugely disappointing exit from the Cup. Who else can be blamed for these things other than the manager? He chooses the team, he chooses when to make substitutions during the game. As I recall, there were plenty of folks who were calling for him to be sacked quite some months ago, and this was also true during the dark days of grim home form last season.As supporters, we have all been here before. When I first started going to games with my old dad, Theo Foley was manager. People didn't think too much of him. Peacock was in the twilight of his playing career - people didn't think too much of him either. I remember standing on the East Terrace when The Killer was in his pomp, and there were people who didn't think too much of him! Alan Curbishley must rate as one of the most successful managers we have ever had (in terms of top flight football) but there were people who didn't think too much of him! I remember a visit to the Valley in the late seventies, and my mum (?) exhorting Andy Nelson across the car park not to sell Hales. I can't recall his response, but shortly after, we did indeed sell him. What about the deal with the New England Teamen, and Robinson, Flanagan and Abrahams going to the States (don't recall we ever got any players coming back this way).
I suppose my point is that we have always sold our "best" players (although how many have gone on to stellar careers elsewhere?). We have also been involved in an arrangement with another club to share players. It's fair to say that we have already seen some benefits with new players arriving (ok, so as yet we are unsure about the quality of some of them).All football supporters think their club is special and unique - that's why we support Charlton rather than Crystal Palace. However, it is probably the case that owners and players (and managers for that matter) don't feel the same way. I remember Derek Hales causing consternation when years ago he said that playing football was "just a job".(I think the headline at the time was how Hales had "socked the foreman" working as a builder, pre-football career).I don't doubt that Roland wishes to succeed as an owner of Charlton (and he is astute enough a businessman to make millions) with the Premier League surely being the prize he has his eye on. Equally, I just don't buy the "Charlton as feeder club" idea for the same reason that Premier League football will be a bigger draw for players than being in the Belgian League.This is a big weekend for the club and for the new manager. Team selection will be key (let's hope he doesn't decide to take a look at Thuram in a match setting on Saturday afternoon). We are in a position to execute the great escape with all those games in hand. If (and I know it's a big if) we can beat Millwall tomorrow, the table will look considerably rosier. The fans - who after all will still be there when Riga, Roland, and JJ have long gone - have a crucial role to play in pulling together to provide that 12th man, to suck the ball into the net, and to support the team in its efforts to maintain Championship status this season. Everyone needs to remain calm, in a few weeks from now it could all look very different.

Martin Cowan

When The South Africans Were Here said...

I don’t accept the implication at the end of the last comment (by MC) that things will be okay if we are not relegated. Yes, there are some positives for me in the new owner’s strategy and the relationship with his other clubs need not be negative. We have always been forced to sell players, as with Mike Bailey & Billy Bonds in the 60’s. However, I do not believe that Chris Powell was sacked because of our league position; more because he did not want to be reduced to a ‘coach’ who had little involvement in recruitment. The determination of the owner to push through everything on his terms does not bode well for the future. Every club is special to its fans otherwise why bother?

Blackheath Addicted said...

Thanks for the comments guys. Martin, re the Sheffield game let's not forget Church (plus Morrison and Cousins) was an injury doubt before the game and may have been tiring. I think it was unfortunate that the goals came immediately after the first change, with no chance to see if it might have worked.

No manager is going to make all the right decisions at the right time, just impossible, especially as there's someone on the other side trying to do the same. And yes, there have been those calling for Powell to be replaced. I didn't agree with them but don't doubt their motives.

Of the last two comments I do tend towards the camp of the last in that I fear for our future less in terms of league position (which is not to say I'm indifferent to that) but as an entity that we can identify with and support.

That's why I hope the new group is able to have a constructive dialogue with Duchatelet and that he proves open to the concerns we have. If this proves not to be the case, we will be better able to draw our own conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I think CP was a dead man walking as soon As RD bought the club and RD probably did not realise the affection the supporters had for a manager who's team were absolute rubbish at home and in the bottom 5 of the league . We new some of the reasons for this but I also feel Powell' s deep association with club and his status as a great man meant some supporters had a blinkered view of his abilities. I think the reason he has gone is that RD thought we would definitely be relegated if he stayed in charge any longer. It is a fact that a football manager can go from hero to villan very quickly and visa versa , he can also be great at one club and rubbish at another, so at least CP leaves with his head held very high which will look very impressive on his CV
RD has made his choice and perhaps we will never know if it was the right decision.
I do however agree that it would be helpfull if we had a bit more of a idea what his view of the way forward actually is , to say it is a tad confusing would be the understatement of the year .
I do however have a real gut feeling that there is something to RD that should excite us and I 100% believe we are not a feeder club for SL and that he does have ambition to take us back to the premier Leaugue . No disrespect to Belgium but I know where I would rather play my football and I think most Belgiums do as well.

John said...

I wish people would sign their name rather then choose to be anonymous.
It just feels you are talking to a real person when there is a name attached.

The explanation given by anon on "feeder " clubs is excellent and makes sense otherwise why wouldn't the middle plus lower clubs of the premiership be doing it.

I am lost as to why people think we will not be a "feeder" to SL.
That is what Mr D as good as said to the media. Blackheath I am sure commented on the interview in a previous blog.

It would be great if the reverse took place and SL fed us players, but Mr D has never suggested that.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't RD said that players will move around? Lots of what is being written on these blogs is pure speculation. Surely now we can lay to bed the notion that Powell was sacked because he wouldn't play Thuram and Nego as the new manager hasn't picked them either. Also I note that Kermogant missed the last two games with injury and Alnwick is still not playing for Orient.

Martin Cowan

Blackheath Addicted said...

Thanks for the further comments. We have the problem in a nutshell: we are all guessing, interpreting Duchatelet's remarks in a fashion which suits a positive or a negative interpretation of what might be his real intent (and based on my experience I'm in the negative camp - but ready to be proven wrong).

I feel it is why we should welcome the new initiative, to have people who we know want the best for Charlton to be given the opportunity to try to find out more, whether Duchatelet is an indifferent mini-dictator who's turned to football out of boredom and/or a desire to show the world how clever he is or someone we can trust to be a custodian of the club.