Thursday, 5 February 2015

Support Or Don't Support The Trust, Drop The Silly Labels

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. 


Anonymous said...

Antisocial = someone with a personality disorder.
Does that include all those who are concerned with the clubs management?
All those who to criticise the owner of a football club.
How about the leader of a political party.
The words Hitler, Stalin, spring to mind. You have a personality disorder if you don't think like me.

Ben said...

What a silly article. I think it's the people or a person who intimidates the Director on a train and those who then post anti semitic remarks about a player are insulting and offensive. You've got your priorities wrong methinks.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Ben, re the reported incident on the train I'd refer you to the final para on a 23 Jan post lower down. If there was intimidation (I wasn't there and have no idea if there was) it's not acceptable. Re any anti-semitic remarks, I can honestly say I've not seen/read any but don't look at everything and would have no hesitation in condemning anything of that ilk.

Anonymous said...

I suggest you read this article again Ben. Where does it support or even mention the incident on the train. Where does it support or mention anti semitic remarks about a player.
It's you who's being silly, by bringing these examples into a debate about one's right to express criticism of club management. Without being insulted i.e. anti-social. Of the two examples you give the train event was out of order. The other really doesn't have anything to do with anything other than racism, which can be found in all walks of life. This unfortunatly is rapidly becoming about the right freedom of speech. COYR

Ben said...

Just because it's found in your walks of life not all walks of life doesn't make it acceptable and that sort of anti social behaviour is an abuse of free speech. Neither is bullying a club employee on a train in an aggressive manner acceptable. The club still has a lot more to do in ridding the fanbase of these racist and xenophobic types and the sooner they're gone the better.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think you understand my comments or the purpose of this article at all Ben, never mind. Oh by the way I'm Jewish.

Anonymous said...

Anti-social, I suspect some people will use this word to mean (unfriendly) without understanding that it has far deeper connotations and implications. Therefore inflaming a situation without realising it.

It reminds me of a teenager who was asked what he thought about socialism and his reply was, yeah "I like to go out with me mates".

Ben said...

So am I but unlike yourself I don't condone anti semitic comments online about a player or xenophobia aimed at the new owners - abuses of free speech. I'd rather support the team, players and owners than take pot shots at them and will carry on doing that.

Anonymous said...

Most politicians and a fair proportion of club owners are sociopaths, because they believe that the rules don't count for them. Some, including many of the most successful, are in fact psychopaths, in the true, not tabloid meaning of the word. Certainly the like s of Stalin, Napoleon,Thatcher, Mao etc come into this category.

Anonymous said...

Don't think I condoned anything other than free speech with the limitations of not causing offence.

Stevie said...

This xenophobia business is ridiculous. Seems like a convenient way for the pro Duchatelet crew to try to discredit those that want change. We all live in London, we live around people from all different countries.

Most of us have foreign friends or family members from overseas. It's ridiculous to suggest that all this unrest comes from bigoted people.

People care deeply about the club, and if action is taken to improve communication channels and it succeeds, everybody benefits.

So if you are happy with the status quo, fine, but stop pissing on people who are not and those that are looking for some solutions on how to improve relationships.

Anonymous said...

xenophobia, anti-semetic (such working class prose)
opinion without substance.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Thanks for the comments guys, went out for a glass last night and only just catching up.

As often, I suspect there's more common ground than at first sight. I'm with anyone who advocates no place for xenophobes etc and who says there are no grounds for complacency. By the same token I hope Ben and others will accept that criticism of our owner cannot automatically be attributed to motives other than perception of the best interests of our club.

Ben said...

In what way is xenophobia acceptable then in your book. If you read many of the sites and posts as I do, they are laced with people attacking the Board for being foreign, Belgian and even the Manager for his ethnic background. I think the anti Board brigade are using this as a weapon to beat the owners with, I mean I don't see anyone on these boards, that's of their regular posters, disagreeing with the anti foreigner rhetoric so that in itself is condoning it. There are plenty of examples but the poster two above chooses to ignore or deny it.

Ben said...

Your solutions aren't improving relationships though and why should the Board recognise disparate groups who resort to infighting and name calling in any case. I hope they don't and in business constructive dialogue achieves more than blustering, bullying and insults.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Ben, xenophobia when it arises cannot be defended as the word means an irrational fear or hatred of foreigners. You will either have to take my word for it, or go back through many posts about a year ago to confirm, to see a reply I wrote following a comment which complained about foreign owners not understanding traditions of clubs (and making changes which went against them). I said then that I'd have no truck with any criticism on the grounds of the nationality of our owner.

The nationality of our owner, manager, players etc is entirely irrelevant. That still leaves a strategy which I view as highly unlikely to succeed, one which involves too great a compromise of the reasons many of us are fans (and this comes from a European federalist), and an owner who as a man has shown characteristics of people I have had dealings with (this has to be guesswork as I've never met him and he doesn't communicate with fans).

I can't answer for all of course, but every blogger I've been in contact with has not come across to me as in any way xenophobic. I don't know where you look but I've never seen the sort of comments that you refer to, so have never felt any need to condemn. I feel you go too far to suggest that this amounts to encouraging xenophobia by omission.

As for constructive dialogue, I think that's what the Trust is trying to achieve.