Firstly seasons greetings to all Charlton Fans and real ale lovers. While it hasn’t been a great start to the season at the Valley I have made friends this year with some great and passionate fans of both the Addicks and a decent pint.
Secondly, my apologies for not writing for some time. The run up to Christmas saw me working seven days a week for some two months with a brief respite on Saturday afternoons to watch our home matches. So I’m taking the Christmas period to catch up with old friends and resume a bit of light blogging.
The Boxing Day game against Brighton was a much needed Christmas cheer for both the team and fans alike. I feel it brought renewed vigour to a number of players who deserved more for their tireless efforts in previous games. A big welcome back for Chris Solly allowed Laurie Wilson more freedom to break forward as he had threatened to do on a number of occasions at right back and he was justly rewarded with two goals. I only hope the North Stand faithful justly rewards him at some stage with a decent chant rather than the awful one they came up with at the game. Some say its only banter but I can’t help feel we should reward his match winning performance with better praise than “he’s doing alright”. The other chant at the game “You must be sh##e, we’re wining at home” is more like the self deprecating British humour that (with the exception of the rude words) is a hall mark of football banter.
While the game against Sheffield Wednesday was not the best by any standards, four points over two games has given us a brief respite from the scrap at the bottom of the table. With a virtually fully fit squad I hope that we’ll start to consolidate games in the New Year and maybe put on a bit of a cup run. That is if the pitch survives which I very much doubt. The ground will not get a respite as the FA Cup game at the weekend is shortly followed by a further home match the following week, so expect more bogged down passes and poorly timed fouls as the quagmire takes its toll.
The current owners have come under a lot of criticism from fans on social media and other outlets for the lack of investment on and off the pitch (my own relatively minor gripe is the disappearance of pies from the kiosks. How can you have a football game without pies?). However, it is the lack of interaction with the fans that is the biggest gripe. If there is one criticism it is the lack of communication coming from the top brass to the fans on the financial situation and various takeover rumours.
It is no wonder that we get upset when Tony Jiminez writes an article on running a football club for the Huffington Post (thanks to valleytalkblog.com for pointing it out) when he has had so little dialogue with his own club’s fans (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tony-jimenez/football-club-owners_b_4412796.html)
While this appears to be part of a regular blog post on their website I believe Jiminez or Slater would have won over a number of fans with these well thought out words on his experience running of the club if he had expressed some of these views to Charlton fans in the match day programme or on other CAFC related media.
We’re not asking for miracles just regular dialogue with the fans, to allow us to understand what the owners’ intentions and how they are running the club. Despite what is written on certain forums most fans are pretty level headed but a stone wall silence leads to silly rumours and people pouncing on the slightest nuance however absurd.
While communication with the fans is not the management’s strongest point they have effectively staved the club from almost certain bankruptcy and we should be grateful for this however much we complain about other matters. We have to remember that they did allow Chris Powell to invest heavily in almost an entire new squad for his first League One season with great success winning the league with a record number of points.
Two years into the Championship we are struggling but despite all the odds in what must be one of the most competitive divisions in the world we are doing remarkably well for the minimal resources available. We are also not the only team in the division that is struggling as past blog posts have explained.
This leads us on to the current takeover talks with Belgium Roland Duchatelet who also owns Standard Liege. It was good to see the management learning from fans’ gripes with a prompt message on the Charlton website acknowledging the discussions.
Many Charlton fans appear to be lapping this up and can’t wait for the old regime to leave without even having glanced at the credentials of the potential new owner. One only has to look at the events at Cardiff and Hull to see the face of the new breed of football club owners and their plans to commercialise their investments into profitable franchises (yes there I said it!) or at least be able to hold their head above water as stand alone investments.
A number of Standard Liege fans have taken to twitter to sympathise with the Addick faithful. They were not happy at the methods employed by him on taking their club over. It appears that this will not be a toy for a rich owner or a benevolent investment (and why should it?). If we are to take his current club as a model we can expect him to sweat the assets to recoup his investment first. At Liege this was done by selling top players and then building up the club from scratch with a relatively unknown manager. The club is currently top of their league but this has not tempered the ire of the Royal Standard fans.
I believe that Charlton is currently running at a deficit of approximately £500,000 a month, so the sale of a few top players from the existing squad is only going to fund the investment for six months at the most and go nowhere near returning the rumoured £14m price tag.
This brings us a previously mooted scheme which on the face of it looks like it might pay for itself but which may require an additional outlay to fund it. This involved the purchase of land on the Greenwich Peninsula where a brand new stadium and assorted retail outlets would be funded through the sale of residential property on the same land. Reports at the time suggested that this might be self funding with the icing on the cake (ie the profit) being the redevelopment of the Valley into further residential homes.
So applaud the takeover as much as you like but please don’t get too attached to the Valley. Happy New Year?