I'm not sure I've ever been more disappointed as an Addick than after reading some of the comments in response to posts following the Trust's latest statement. That some feel free to label fellow supporters 'xenophobic' or 'anti-social' for expressing their views is groundless and insulting. If someone wants to label me xenophobic, I'd only ask on what basis? I don't think I am, I hope I'm not, but I'm happy to consider any evidence to the contrary. And why focus on the fact that our owner is Belgian? Perhaps if there was a word in the dictionary for an irrational hatred of people called Roland we'd get labelled as that too.
For the record, I think the Trust should be applauded for its efforts to engage constructively with the club, feel that it's response to those efforts being rebuffed it reasonable, and hope to attend the flagged meeting. I don't feel inclined to attach any label to those Addicks who may disagree; they are free not to be members, not to attend, not to read this blog etc. Nobody's pretending that the Trust is some sole representative body of supporters and the only group the board might engage with. But I'd challenge anyone to provide any evidence to suggest that the Trust - and other supporters groups - don't have at heart the best interests of the club and merely highlight again the March 2014 statement from the board. That began with "since we arrived at the club in January, we understood the importance of interaction with Charlton supporters". Is that still the case?
There is at least a certain clarity in Ms Meire's recent statement to the effect that Charlton supporters simply have to accept Mr Duchatelet's way of doing things. That, and the response to the Trust, at least makes it clear that there is no point in discussions. As there is no chance of any change in approach, any meetings are really just a waste of time. I don't agree, and believe that a different attitude would have material benefits for the club, but there we are.
So, as from the start of this adventure, supporters are left with choices of how to react. None of us (truly, none of us) wants to see us fail on or off the pitch. And all of us are aware that the chances of success (ie avoiding relegation) are increased if The Valley is packed to the rafters by people urging on the team. The simple fact is that at present that's not the case - and I doubt that simply the board and/or some fans just saying turn up and support, or you're not real fans, will do the trick. A half-empty Valley and some supporters willing more to just go away as 'we' don't want you just doesn't make sense, if you have the best interests of the club at heart.
To those still critical of the alienated, I'd just ask what has changed over the past year or so? Have a number of Charlton fans (however many) suddenly become xenophobic/anti-social, or had such latent tendencies suddenly exposed? I don't think so. All that has changed is the ownership of the club, which nobody denies has brought some benefits (although I've yet to see any actual evidence to support the claim that we were headed for administration under the previous owners; in the merde with owners not prepared to put in a bob more than was absolutely necessary before they could sell us on for sure, but that's not the same thing). We all welcomed Duchatelet when he arrived, but as the nature of his 'strategy' unfolded some of us, based on personal experience and personal motivation for being a supporter, balked at the implications, with alienation compounded by the 'take it or leave it' attitude of the board.
Some may well feel that the fact that I stayed away from some games last season in the wake of Powell's sacking means I'm not an Addick. Fine, I just don't agree; I know why I didn't go and make no apology. I happen to think that all concerned - including those who didn't renew season tickets for this season, those saying that they don't intend to renew for next season, and those prepared to back the owner - are all Addicks and deserve no other label. (For the record, I did have to laugh at the 'bring your loved one to The Valley for Valentine's Day' appeal on the club site; my loved one halfway through the Rotherham game asked me if I'd got her a ticket for Brentford, as she will be here again, adding that if not don't bother. Now she's not a die-hard Addick but for all the time I've been with her she's enjoyed going with me to games - and I know for a fact she's not xenophobic or anti-social.)
So what to do? Everyone makes their own decision, for their own reasons. We stayed up last season with no thanks to the owner/board but due to the character of the players that Powell had brought in and Riga's ability to recognise and utilise that. I'm looking for a repeat performance from the players that we have now. If they show the level of commitment on the pitch that the team did a year ago they deserve our support, for our mutual benefit. So I'll be there cheering - while intending to go to the Trust meeting. I see no contradiction in that and if some think it's a bit rich coming from me, tough. Give me any label you want, I know the ones that apply.