Monday, 14 September 2015

The White Swan in Charlton Village

Good news for Charlton fans who enjoy a decent pint before (and after) the game.

  The White Swan in Charlton Village has re-opened under new management and if my sources are correct I understand that its run by the same people that own the Pelton Arms in Greenwich which is a smashing pub with a great beer selection.  If it's anything like the Pelton then the Charlton Village locals are very fortunate.

I popped in on Saturday before the Rotherham match with the former landlord of the Old Loyal Britons and a friend who flies down from Scotland to see the Addicks and we weren't disappointed.

The bar had a good selection with beers from the local Hopstuff Brewery, Caveman Brewery in Kent, Windsor & Eaton and Magic Bus cider.

Of course a pub only survives if we make the effort to visit so if you're in the area do pay it a visit.



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Monday, 24 August 2015

Peterborough pub recommendations for travelling Charlton supporters

As Charlton Athletic are visiting Peterborough on Tuesday night I thought I'd flag a couple of previous posts for those Addicks making the trip and looking for decent watering holes

The pubs are all pretty decent but the Posh's squad is somewhat depleted since we last played them.  However, it will be far from a pushover for what I expect will be a youthful Charlton squad.

Happy drinking and COYR !

Friday, 17 April 2015

Football Fixtures: It’s the Economy Stupid!

As the season draws to an end plans are already in hand for the scheduling of next year’s football fixtures.  So this is an open plea to the powers that be to consider the humble fan but for more than the usual reasons.

Charlton played 11 league games on a Tuesday night over the season including away fixtures at Leeds (away fans 303), Derby (311), Blackpool (222) and Bolton (234) with a further two games held on a Friday evening.  For away fans these games generally mean taking an afternoon off work or traveling major commuter routes in the expensive rush hour.  After the match it means a tiring journey home arriving back at two in the morning or in many cases an overnight stay as the last trains have left by the time the match is over.  This makes it difficult and undesirable for many fans to attend without sacrificing time off work and costs over and above weekend travel, and the attendance figures back this up.

Turning up at the match is usually the only way we get to see our teams play for these fixtures.  Miss it and all you’ll get to see will be the goals on Sky Sports News or Youtube.  There won’t even be the obligatory two and a half minutes on the Football League Show.  

As football fans we often appear to be bottom of the list of priorities, especially when it comes to scheduling fixtures and yet some sensible planning would not only allow fans to see their team in action but also benefit so many more in a real commercial sense.  To coin that memorable phrase once uttered by an American politician “It’s the economy, stupid!”

We all know the disparate financial gap between the Premier League and the Championship with match day revenue being a key source of income.  Who knows, Bolton with debts of around £173m could certainly have done with more than the 234 hardy Charlton fans that made the long journey North that night.

While we may not realise it, professional football plays an important role in the economy.  The economist would put forward the argument as follows:-

A football club arranges a game of football.  Fans buy tickets, programmes, merchandise and beverages from the club allowing it to purchase inventory from suppliers, employ footballers, ground staff etc, who all spend their money, creating a knock on effect in the economy.  Similarly, fans travel to the ground, meet up and have a few pints and some food thus boosting bus and rail companies and stimulating the trade for local hostelries and eateries in the area, again stimulating trade and employment in the economy.  The government gets more tax revenue from VAT, corporation tax and PAYE thus allowing it to spend more money on public services or cut taxes giving individuals the ability to spend more money.

You only have to look at the activity in and around Charlton on a match day to see this in action.  It’s clearly a bit more complicated than this but you get the general idea.

By playing those games mentioned above on a weekend many more away fans would attend.  If we assume a further 700 fans would attend those games and that they each spend £25 on a match ticket, £30 on travel, £20 subsistence this gives a boost of £52,500 for each game.  Assuming each team across the four leagues has six weekday games that are difficult to travel to over the season then that gives us a total of about £28.35m over the season.  The assumptions are rather simplistic (for example many Premier League games are sold out regardless), and this is just a first order effect for the clubs and that does not include the second effect stimulus for the local economy but one can see that the figures are not insubstantial.

It therefore also makes both commercial and economic sense for the Football League to prioritise weekday fixtures such that more away fans can attend.  Given the need to generate additional tax revenue I'm surprised that no political party has yet put it in their manifesto.

Having said this I do appreciate that the busy season means that it is not possible to avoid playing on weekday nights, and I personally wouldn’t want to get rid of my fix of mid-week action under the spot lights.  Tuesday nights are always going to be hard for some given that children have to get up to go to school the next day and our supporter base is spread over the South East.  We also have to bear in mind the regular plea for Boxing Day games to be held locally, given the work on the railways over the festive season.

However, we currently do have four reasonably local teams that are within easy distance for a night game including Millwall, Brentford, Watford and Fulham.  The atmosphere, if not the result, at Fulham away this season was electric.  Furthermore other teams such as Brighton, Ipswich, Reading and even Norwich can be reached reasonably by most in an evening.  So it is possible to go some way to accommodating this for many clubs.

It won’t completely solve the issue but it will go a long way to getting more away fans to games and boosting the economy and the financial situation of our clubs.  Here’s hoping for a bout of common sense, and don’t forget, each time you attend a match you are assisting the economy!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Charlton Athletic: Player of the Season

Nominations are open for player of the year are currently being taken by Charlton.

There are plenty of contenders including new arrivals such as Tony Watt, stalwarts such as Stephen Henderson and Tal Ben Haim, to a trio of academy players that have broken into the first team including Joe Gomez and Jordan Cousins.  They all have their merits, but for me there is only one player that makes the grade and that player is Johann Berg Gudmundsson.

Having made 40 starting line ups and 4 substitute appearances (pre-Bolton) he has been consistently selected by both Bob Peeters and Guy Luzon.  A natural right winger he has often swapped sides with Frederick Bulot during periods of the game and in my mind would make a good makeshift striker.  His work rate on the pitch is second to none.

He is a consistent goal scorer, having notched up as many goals as Vetokele this season, 11 in all competitions and is much improved compared to the 13 at his former side AZ Alkmaar over four seasons.
However, Vetokele cost good money and so there is an expectation that he would deliver the goals, but we picked him Gudmundsson on a free transfer (thanks I understand to the scouting of Karel Fraeye, Jose Riga’s former assistant) which makes him a bargain signing.

See here for a selection of Johann’s goals this season:-

Admittedly one man doesn’t make a team and Chris Solly has combined well with him, in a number of cases drawing players away from the pacey wing man to create shooting space.

His scoring also comes from a variety of situations.  A specialist from free kicks he is also a solid penalty taker when Yoni Buyens is not available, but also has the confidence to hit accurate balls from a distance in free play, resulting in some stunning goals from his trusted left foot over the season.  This reliance on the left foot is perhaps also a weakness with good goal scoring opportunities closed by opposition defenders as the extra touch is taken to touch the ball on to his better side.

So for these reasons, Johann gets my vote.  In the meantime, with rumours of interest from Premier League teams, I just hope that summer contract talks will open soon and we don’t see him going away like last year’s player of the year! Oh, and isn’t it time we had a song for our Icelandic International?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Deptford Pub Walkabout

You may remember many moons ago that I wrote a piece on a pub crawl from Charlton to Greenwich
Since then I’ve done a few more of these and it was fellow Charlton blogger Hungry Ted who suggested that I should put pen to paper to share these with you.

The introduction of the pedestrian bridge over Deptford Creek means that there is now a pleasant walk west from the Greenwich foot tunnel along the Thames rather than walking along Creek Road.  The river side is all built up with modern high rise flats but the view down the Thames is still spectacular and you can take in the statue of Peter the Great (Glaisher Street) a one time resident of Deptford, on the way. 

As you follow the path away from the Thames around a huge tract of land that was once Convoys Wharf you come to the Dog & Bell on Prince Street.  This is a quiet unassuming pub untouched by the need to gentrify or attract the hipster crowd, tucked away down a quiet side street away from the hustle and bustle of Deptford High Street.

The bar billiard table in the corner is a rare sight in pubs these days as was the lack of music which encourages good conversation.  On our walk we noticed the tell tale signs of number of former pubs nearby and this is the last surviving pub in the area that served the dockers from the massive but now mostly derelict Convoys Wharf.

It survives as an independent real ale pub and the walls bear witness to this with certificates for pub of the year from the local CAMRA group amongst others.  They always have four or five guest real ales there and the few times I’ve been the beers have always been new to me.  We plumped for a pint of Gravesend Shrimper, a best bitter from Loddon Brewery.

It's then a short walk down  Deptford High Street to the Job Centre ( the contrast could not be more different.  This is part of the Antic pub group and as appears to be the trend with Antic pubs the place looks like it is part way through a refit but to be honest I don’t really care as long as the beer and atmosphere is up to scratch.  The music is loud and the beard count in the double figures but they do serve a good pint.  There are approximately five ales on cask and many more on tap again with a nod to London beers.  The London Fields' Hackney Hopster was pouring particularly well that night served in the hipster's vessel of choice, the toby mug.

They currently have a kitchen hijack where every weekend the latest street food merchant runs the kitchen.  On our visit it was the turn of Prairie Fire BBQ (slow cooked meat smoked the Kansas City way), and jolly good it looked but we were there for the beer.

The trip back to Greenwich took us along Creek Road and past the Duke ( a more modern pub run by the Inn Public group but still retaining that local bar feeling.  It has two cask ales which change frequently.  The offerings on the night were Sothwark Brewings LPA and Truman’s Zypher, both well kept and well served.  The Duke has music most nights but is spacious enough that you can still avoid the music and have a good conversation if you want a quieter evening.

Creek Road takes you back into Greenwich where the Lord Hood, a truly local pub, is often overlooked but serves a decent pint of Gypsy Hill Brewing's South Paw as its regular bitter.  There has been an ongoing development battle surrounding the Lord Hood and its not clear how long this local will last so you should visit while you have the chance.

In all, four decent pubs all offering something different and a reasonable three mile walk (including the trip through the foot tunnel back to the Isle of Dogs) which will burn of roughly a pint and a half of those beer filled calories.

Don't forget that SE London CAMRA hold the second Kidbrooke Beer Festival at the end of April.  More news on this event at the following link

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

A Few Local Beer Festivals


The majority of Charlton fans I know also have good taste when it comes to their choice of libation so I thought it worth giving a short plug for two local beer & cider festivals taking place in and around London.

The first, which is currently taking place is the London Drinker festival.  Over half of the real ales on tap are from London breweries, although there is also a good selection of casks and bottles from overseas too.  Full details and a list of beers can be found here :-

The second is the Kidbrooke Beer and Cider Festival which takes place from 30 April to 2 May this year.  I went to last year's inaugural event with a group from the sadly now closed Old Loyal Britons pub in Greenwich.  It's too early for the beer line up to be announced but there were some cracking pints at last year's festival.

It would be good to see some of you there to support this local event and secure its place on the beer festival calendar.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Charlton Athletic Finances for 2013-14 Season

Charlton’s holding company published its accounts today for the year ending June 2014 (i.e. last season) and I thought it might be useful to fellow supporters to highlight a few key metrics.  Certain figures are rounded for ease of use.  

Turnover was up by £829k mainly due to an increase in match day revenue (this is prior to the new catering which was awarded in July 2014), despite a fall of roughly 2,000 in match day crowds to just over 16,000. This bodes well for the future if they can get the crowds through the doors but shows the importance of attendances at Championship level, especially as it is larger slice of revenue than central income from the Football League and Premier League.  However, judging from the announced gates I expect roughly the same or slightly less for the current season*.

 Expenses were pretty much in line (baring a few exceptional costs such as the hired pitch cover) with last year resulting in a loss of £5.9m on par with the prior year.  Employee costs are 88% of turnover (mainly football players).

On the balance sheet there was a net increase in intangible assets (football players to you and me) of £3.3m on the books (representing the net cost of players amortised over the life of their contracts) and a reduction in short term creditors (which appear to be the banks).  This together with the loss for the year has been financed through approximately £10m of loans from Staprix NV, Duch√Ętelet’s holding company.   It looks like the bank loans will all be replaced with Staprix funding by December 2015.

There is no mention of compliance with Financial Fair Play but the club is comfortably within the £8m loss for the season allowed under the rules for the season. 

With respect to players Charlton spent £4.4m on additions to the squad.  The majority of this will be for the acquisition of Vetokele but payments were also made in respect of Parzyszek, Nego and Goochannejhad.
This was partially offset by a profit (which for the avoidance of doubt is not the same as the fee received) of £1.7m on the sale of Stephens, Kermorgant, Button and Smith plus an amount from the on sale of Shelvey by Liverpool to Swansea.

Post the year end loan fees and sales of players generated income of approximately £900,000 although how much of this goes to clubs within the Duch√Ętelet empire we don’t know.  Most of this will be on player movements in the summer.

Interestingly, like the Shelvey fee, the club has increased its use of contingent fees on players it has sold , the figure now standing at £4.17m (up from £3m).  While this income is uncertain it does allow the club to make sure it does not lose out on proper fees for the development of players that go on to excel.

One thing that did make me think is whether the use of players (and now managers) in the network is making the accounts trickier to decipher on a standalone basis, given the use of loan and transfer fees between clubs to transfer money around the network.  I’m not in any way implying any impropriety, in fact it makes perfect commercial sense for the network as whole, just that it may not necessarily give a complete picture on the profitability of the club as a stand alone entity.

*update.  It has been pointed out that this was in part due to the club's good FA cup run that season.  Clearly our early exit this season will have an impact on match day revenue.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Charlton Athletic: Don't Just Sit on the Fence

News reaches us that the Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust are to hold a public meeting about the direction of our club Charlton Athletic.  A severe lack of honest engagement by the club with fans has left many of us disillusioned with how Charlton is being run and I'm pleased to see the Trust not sitting back on this.

Whatever your views on the future of the club or its engagement with fans please do make an effort to attend the meeting to be held in Woolwich on Wednesday evening.

Full details can be found here:-

If you can't attend the meeting then do take a couple of minutes to complete their survey:-

In other news, we were warned by the Standard Liege fans what would happen, so any one got in touch with the Lens supporters yet?