Friday 8 July 2016

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

I'm sure there have been many fine academic studies into the potential negative impact of sales and marketing campaigns, just that I'm blissfully unaware of them. I do know that downsides, in the form of consumer boycotts, exit. For example I continue to balk at any Virgin service because they once sponsored an inferior south London team. We don't forget. So while it is possible that for once Ms Meire is telling the truth and ITRM is indeed a "forward-thinking (I've added the hyphen just to correct the English for the benefit of the club website), successful business which does (correcting from 'who do') great work in the community", I will forever think badly of the company and in the unlikely event of the situation arising would decline to use their services and urge anyone I know not to use them.

It is disappointing to see the news of a new club website, not because there's any affection for the current one (in normal circumstances we would be welcoming a return to a bespoke site) but as any evidence that the regime is planning ahead for anything other than a sale of the club goes down badly. ITRM MD Dave White may say that "this is an exciting project for the Club and all the fans". He is clearly wrong and should be ashamed of himself, if he does indeed have some affection for Charlton Athletic. As for the fans, I hope that every grouping, up to and including the Trust, sees it as in our club's best interest to shun contact with the regime, unless and until there is a commitment from Duchatelet to sell.

You may infer from this that nothing's changed as far as my attitude towards the regime is concerned. And you'd be right. Of course the appointment of Slade and developments since then have given cause for reflection. It is quite remarkable that Duchatelet has completely abandoned his masterplan for the selection of and duties of a head coach, and that the strategy for selecting players to bring in - one so eloquently expressed by Murray not long ago - has gone out of the window with relegation. Those changes are, in themselves, to be welcomed - although surely Duchatelet's regular U-turns (let's not forget the silly reliance on financial fair play) should remind us that he's not implementing some insightful grand plan but rather scrabbling around and moving from one failed initiative to the next. There can be no confidence in him sticking to any particular path, other than one which might involve making money (or minimising the drain on his finances).

The bottom line is that the regime is still in place and there do not appear to be ongoing initiatives towards a sale. The hapless Meire continues to pretend to represent Charlton. So the best we can hope for is that Duchatelet will stay away and not interfere (with luck he will occupy himself with his repurchased Belgian toy), that Meire manages to say and do nothing for as long and as often as she possibly can, for the sake of our club's future and its reputation, and that Slade will put together a squad capable of getting us promoted. In the interim I see no reason to ease up on the campaign to rid our club of the regime, to target all revenue streams etc. And yes, I have no doubts that CARD's shirt sales set against the official strip will tell its own story, as it would seem are season ticket sales.

That doesn't get around a real problem for CARD. I don't go along with the notion that 'we made our point' last season and now should just shelve/abandon the protests so as to maximise our chances of getting back into the Championship. But some fans probably will - and for good and understandable motives. The regime may be thinking that it's seen off the worst and that the recent changes might prompt a change of heart in sufficient number of Addicks. It makes it a tough call for CARD, to maintain the backing of the overwhelming majority of fans, how to define in practise 'support the team, not the regime'.

I've no insight into CARD thinking (I just turn up and help hand out the pre-match materials) but would personally favour something along the lines of 'the protests - of course - continue but for now nothing will be done inside the ground before and during matches, when we urge Addicks to get behind Slade and the team'. If hopes of a promotion push prove groundless, the picture changes and CARD would be ready to lead that change, while in the interim keeping up the pressure on club revenues, including urging no spend inside the ground. The alternative approach - continuing the same level of protest, even increasing it - only works if Duchatelet is led to a sale. If there are grounds for backing that in the short term, terrific and let's do all we can. If not, the risk becomes one of crash and burn, of Addicks being alienated or just bored with continuing, regular disruption to games.

So a new club strip, Welling again, and off we go once more. Nothing has changed (except of course the division we're in, the manager, probably close on the entire squad by the time we actually start the season).