Sunday 17 May 2020

Southall Digging Deeper

Clich├ęs may be overused but that’s usually because they are grounded in truth. And ‘truth will out’ is a reliable maxim, not least because where there is confusion and it’s unclear who to trust, what to believe, often one of the parties involved will say or do something that that says all you need to know. We got to learn a lot about Duchatelet because ultimately he couldn’t help himself, when he felt he was ‘misunderstood’, and posted daft statements, which made sense only to him, or gave himself away in interviews. Each time he opened his mouth or put pen to paper it was another turn of the screw as Addicks shook their heads in disbelief.

Seems Matt Southall is cut from the same cloth, at least in terms of unmerited arrogance, with his silly attempt to bully the Trust with the threat of litigation for alleged defamation, for the sin of publishing verbatim answers to questions put by fans to a Charlton Athletic director. Is it telling that there is to the best of my knowledge no threat being made against the club for publishing these answers on the official website? The Trust’s published response is entirely appropriate and to be applauded. The unanimous support from Addicks for the Trust ought to tell Southall something, but it probably won’t.

Anybody who writes (in the email to the Trust) “I’d also like to note that I made time in my incredibly busy schedule at short notice …” is so far up themselves as to merit being viewed as an object of ridicule. Further evidence of such comes from his Twitter feed (assuming it is a genuine one), which even includes a retweet of an inane comment from Trump of all people. And to round things off, the Conversation on YouTube involving Lyle Taylor leaves us in no doubt how Southall is perceived. Add in the invoices and the Range Rovers, as others have commented, whatever happens to our club, there is no role for him in it, which just leaves him scrabbling around to try to secure a settlement or any other funds he can before moving on.

Enough of him, he will be fully out of the picture soon, what of our club? We’re just days away from the anniversary of the Wembley play-off final triumph. That evening we were looking forward to a campaign back in the second tier (I assume we were, don’t remember that much about it), even though the assumption was it would be a struggle at least as long as Duchatelet held on, with a realistic expectation that promotion would hasten his departure. A worst case scenario then would have been Duchatelet not selling up and relegation. I doubt we would have guessed that a year later we would be facing the possibility of being relegated on the basis of points per game having lost the final one at home and the season frozen before the Hull match, under a transfer embargo, with the threat of EFL sanctions hanging over us (including presumably points deduction for either this season – if the decision is to relegate us on points per game the least they could do is dock them from this season’s total – or next), with an owner who may or may not have funds and may or may not be ready to at least pay in enough to keep the club afloat, and the possibility that the transfer of ownership will be made null and void by the former directors.

If we end up relegated without another ball being kicked we could lay claim to being the unluckiest club in the country. It would be grossly unfair, but if it happens, so be it, this is an environment where there are no easy options (personally I thought a guy on the radio backing playing out this season to a close, even if it takes until Christmas, allowing the time to consider options for next season, made sense). Such a kick in the teeth would presumably leave it in doubt whether Lee Bowyer would want to stay to take on the rebuilding task. That in turn will I guess be heavily influenced by the ownership situation. If we have to prioritise the prime goal for us is to have a club to support (including club staff being paid), after that to have the foundations for optimism over the future (ie some resolution of the ownership situation, whether or not it involves Tahnoon Nimer), only then comes retaining Championship status by one means or another.

Let’s end with a weightier matter. Much as we might love Abba (at least half of it), and I was recorded with my partner Suzanne at the Abba museum in Stockholm howling out the song, it has to be pointed out that at Waterloo Napoleon did not surrender. He did lose, and retired from the field, but only surrendered six weeks later, at Rochefort on the HMS Bellerophon.