Wednesday, 23 November 2016

A Poisoned Chalice

So it looks like Karl Robinson is about to take the hot seat at the Valley.

I'm pretty indifferent about the manager these days but I'm amazed at why anyone would want to go and work under such a toxic management and ownership regime such as Charlton, so it must be a sign of desperation for anyone willing to take on the role.

It doesn't really matter who they are, we know the same result as long as our incompetent CEO Katrien Meire and meddling clueless and impatient owner Roland Duchatelet are in charge.



What should be more surprising is that the Charlton board would consider someone who also took their team down to League One last season and are currently languishing in the relegation places.

Instead of attending our FA cup fixture I will be hosting a Christmas stall selling my home made gin kits (see advert below) at the Woolwich Equitable pub on 3 December and will donate the cost of the match ticket to the Charlton Protest Fund.

For details of how to donate see here http://charltoncard.tumblr.com/post/139650202571/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cards-protest

Come and say hello if you're also not going to the match.







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A Poisoned Chalice

So it looks like Karl Robinson is about to take the hot seat at the Valley.

I'm pretty indifferent about the manager these days but I'm amazed at why anyone would want to go and work under such a toxic management and ownership regime such as Charlton, so it must be a sign of desperation for anyone willing to take on the role.

It doesn't really matter who they are, we know the same result as long as our incompetent CEO Katrien Meire and meddling clueless and impatient owner Roland Duchatelet are in charge.



What should be more surprising is that the Charlton board would consider someone who also took their team down to League One last season and are currently languishing in the relegation places.

Instead of attending our FA cup fixture I will be hosting a Christmas stall selling my home made gin kits (see advert below) at the Woolwich Equitable pub on 3 December and will donate the cost of the match ticket to the Charlton Protest Fund.

For details of how to donate see here http://charltoncard.tumblr.com/post/139650202571/everything-you-need-to-know-about-cards-protest)

Come and say hello if you're also not going to the match.







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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Deloitte Annual Review of Football

While Charlton fans are waiting for our new manager to be appointed, I thought it might be worthwhile pointing out that the accounting firm Deloitte have issued their Annual Review of Football Finance, a summary of which can be found here  :-

www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/sports-business-group/articles/annual-review-of-football-finance.html

I wrote about the Financial Fair Play implications for Charlton falling down to league one in this blog a short while ago and the latest Supporters Trust newsletter also has an article on the subject.  The key point is that clubs in this division are subject to a Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP) player wages must be no more than 65% of turnover (there are of course plenty of exceptions for newly relegated clubs, definition of turnover etc).  See more on this topic here:-

wrongsideofthethames.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/financial-fair-play-all-change-as.html


The task of complying with those rules is shown clearly on page 26 and 27 of the Deloitte summary.  It shows total League One revenues to be less than a quarter of the Championship.  Despite the SCMP, wages in League One breached the cap but this may be down to the exceptions from larger clubs such as Wigan dropping down and does not necessary signify a breach.

The challenges for Charlton Athletic are huge and the delay in announcing a new manager cannot help the situation.


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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Ticket Chaos at the Valley

First a happy Clive Mendonca Day to all Charlton fans.

Well as usual another Tuesday at Charlton Athletic didn’t let us down, this time it appears with shenanigans in the ticket office.  Sources state that the head of ticketing Mandy Anderson- Myers has quit apparently after a disagreement with the chief financial officer.

It would be a fair assumption to make that this was over resources for the upcoming season.  As the club is relegated to league one revenues fall and so cuts have to be made in all areas.  This happened last time the club was demoted and should not be an unexpected development.

So was Anderson-Myers right to protest?  To start with there is the issue of up to 2,400 refund requests for all those in the North Lower whose view was obscured by the posts and netting.  It appears that the club is dithering on its response with Anderson-Myers appearing to have passed the buck to another department according to various sources on twitter.  I wouldn’t hold my breath for a resolution any time soon, but fans should keep on insisting on a refund for a clearly unacceptable situation.


Looking towards to the new season, clearly, the more season tickets sold by a club prior to the start of the season, the fewer resources they require to issue tickets throughout the season.  The latest on season tickets sold from Dansk_Red on the Charlton Life forum is 3,429 at the back end of April.  This may have now risen to 4,000 but is well below last year’s 10,000 plus tickets.  Most of this is down to an effective campaign to boycott season tickets by CARD (see @CharltonCARD and www.facebook.com/CharltonCARD for details ).  This means at least an additional 6,000 tickets to issue for each game.

This of course makes a big assumption that all those boycotting actually do buy individual match tickets and of course that attendances are static which undoubtedly will not be the case.  Last year's average attendance at the Valley was around 15,000-16,000.  Putting the boycott aside I would normally expect this to drop to around 11,000-12,000 which from memory was the crowd size last time we were in League One.

Assuming an effective boycott then individual match day ticket sales will actually be the lower than the season just gone.

The introduction of the ticketing website with print at home tickets and bar code scanning to enter the ground mean that less staff are required as the process becomes more automated.  This is not a complete panacea as there is a need to monitor and restrict ticket sales for high profile games such as Millwall or Leeds to ensure proper segregation but again it requires less resources.

On the subject of ticketing many fans have said that they will only be buying away tickets so that they can continue to support the team without putting money into the owner’s pockets.  I will be doing the same but you should be aware that Football League regulations state that the away club may receive a commission of 5% for tickets sold so if you really don't want to give money to the regime it might be better to buy on the day at the away club.




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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Article on Duchatelet's influence at St Truiden





John Chapman the Belgium football writer (look for him on twitter under @BelgoFoot, he is worth a follow) has been a good source of information on the goings on in the Duchatelet network.

While Duchatelet has now sold Standard Liege John still provides information on St Truiden.  The latest snippet is a report from Sport Foot Magazine.  You can read the original article here:-

http://sportmagazine.levif.be/sport/foot-national/duchatelet-a-discute-avec-des-coaches-pour-saint-trond/article-normal-501551.html

If your language skills are a little rusty and you use Chrome as a your browser you can "right click" on the article to translate it into English, otherwise copy and paste into Google Translate.

The gist of the article is that it appears that Mr Duchatelet has a strong say in the running of the club despite St Truiden being owned by Mr Duchatelet's partner and him having no formal position at the club.

There are rules in the Belgium league that prevent the ownership of more than one football club so previously when he owned Standard Liege he could not be involved in the ownership or running of St Truiden.  However, now that Standard has been sold he could legitimately take over the reigns at St Truiden with a formal shareholding or directorship.

If the report is true then to flatly deny such influence when there is no formal connection with the club is frankly disingenuous and a barrier to any sensible minded person taking up any role with responsibility at the club.

The fact that Roland is doing this should be no surprise to Charlton fans.  Despite repeated assurances by the directors to the contrary we have seen the impact of Roland's meddling at the Valley.  The more this goes on, the greater the lack of credibility in the eyes of anyone looking at Charlton.  Given the alleged actions at St Truiden I doubt very much that any decent manager would want to join the club even if their contract gave specific assurances.  Perception is everything Roland!


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Friday, 29 April 2016

Financial Fair Play – All change as Charlton are relegated to League One

As well as the obvious drop in income that the club will suffer as a result of being relegated to League One it also has to contend with a different set of rules for Financial Fair Play (FPP).

Unhelpfully the link to the Football League regulations has disappeared from its website and they have not responded to my request for the regulations or to restore the link so the following is my interpretation of the rules from various other sources.

This season in the Championship, under FPP, clubs were permitted a maximum loss of £13m (or £5m if the owner did not inject more equity) over one season.

However, in League One, clubs are subject to a Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP) where player salaries are capped at 60% of Turnover plus 100% of Football Fortune Income.

Fan Anger will reduce Turnover
Only wages of players are including non contracted and loan players.  Management, youth players (under 20 and who have come through the club's youth programme)  and other non playing staff are not included.  The salaries of players loaned out to other clubs are not included for the duration of the loan.

As a newly relegated club Charlton can also exclude some players from the wage bill if they were signed pre-September on a contract longer than three seasons.  I believe that this exemption covers Bauer, Sarr and Bergdich but not Ba, Cellobas or Kashi who only signed three year contracts.

The definition of Turnover includes match day income, commercial/sponsorship income as well as revenue from TV rights.  As a newly demoted club this figure rises to 75% for Charlton for the first season.  If the club is demoted to League two then the turnover figure drops to 55%.

Football Fortune Income is variable or one off income which includes financial donations and equity from the owner, transfer income (on a cash basis) and cup match income.

The overall effect it to ensure that clubs have enough money in the bank after covering players’ salaries to ensure that they should be able to break even while still allowing them to spend windfall monies on player salaries.

The sanctions for breaking the rules is a player transfer embargo.

How does this impact on Charlton we might ask?  Using the annual accounts to June 2015 staff turnover was 96%.  This figure includes all training and football management as well as 45 administration, commercial and stadium staff so is on the high side for SCMP but is a good proxy and clearly will need to come down.  If turnover and wages were to remain as they stand then the owner would have to inject approximately a further £3.3m as equity or a donation in order to meet the criteria above.  

Clearly turnover will be heavily down across the board.  Broadcasting income will be virtually non existent and I suspect ticket income will also be down heavily.  I for one will not be renewing my season ticket under the current owner's regime.  So as things currently stand it would be a good estimate to assume that for the 2016/17 season player salaries are higher than turnover.  In practice I believe that the losses at the club will be larger than this year and greater than the amount required to meet the Turnover rule above.

The good news for Charlton fans is that loans and other debt are specifically excluded from Turnover and Football Fortune Income calculations as it would defeat the object and just mean that the club gets further and further into debt.  Roland Duch√Ętelet will therefore have to fund the club properly through equity injections or a gift instead of a series of loans from his holding company Staprix NV.

Or he could just sell up and go..........


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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

The Charlton Owner doesn't learn

The following statement appeared on the Charlton athletic club website on the evening of 16 March.  We are told from good sources that it comes directly from the owner :-

http://www.cafc.co.uk/news/article/statement-3009419.aspx

Its contents convey just what is wrong about our owner and his damaging approach to our club.  Roland Duchatelet seems to have a very short memory.  This was the man who owned Standard Liege where he sold star players and made other crass decisions in the day to day running of the football club.   The fans held mass protests, rioted in the ground and ransacked his office.  He promised more engagement with the fans and when this did not materialize the protests continued and eventually led to him selling it.

www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/feb/14/charlton-athletic-roland-duchatelet-standard-liege

These are almost exactly the same measures that he is now introducing at Charlton and yet he can't seem to appreciate this extremely obvious point that he did it before and failed.  Liege supporters warned us Charlton fans what would happen when he bought the club and it has turned out to be true.

I like to think that Charlton fans are more civilized and inventive at protesting than the direct action taken by supporters in Belgium, and the protests at the Middlesbrough game show how effective they can be.  They create the right headlines in the local and national press to highlight our plight and get the message across.

We effectively have nine mini cup matches to stay up in the Championship and the team has my full support but I cannot see how anyone can back the owner in his crass running of the club.


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Friday, 11 March 2016

A short analysis of Charlton Athletic's Financial Accounts

As flagged yesterday, the financial report and accounts for Charlton Athletic for the year ending June 2015 are now available at Companies House.


The group consists of three entities:-

1. Baton 2010 Limited, the holding company
2. Charlton Athletic Football Company Limited, the company that operates the football club
3. Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited which is a property holding company


I use Baton 2010 Limited to give a proper overall view of the club’s finances as it encompasses the results of all the subsidiaries and includes all of Charlton’s activities.  This was the original vehicle set up by Richard Murray to rescue the club.

General Comments
The loss for the year was £4.4m (compared to £5.9m last year) rather than the widely reported £3.78m which only accounts for the football subsidiary.

Turnover was down in all areas, despite a small increase in crowd attendance.  The outsourcing of the catering to Delaware North explains most of the drop in match day income.  The deal is similar to the Nike deal with the superstore in that the club does not take the risk of purchasing and selling foodstuffs but takes an agreed percentage of turnover.  This results in a reduction in both turnover and costs but hopefully an improved profitability.

Staff & Player Costs
The cost of player salaries remained flat at around the £10.2m mark

Noticeably the number of non-football staff fell from 60 to 45 and the temporary match day staff has fallen from 306 to 112.   The fall in the latter number is probably due to the catering being outsourced to Delaware North.  I would expect this figure to fall even further next year as the automated entry system no longer requires the gate booths to be manned.

The book value of the squad remained flat.  Bauer and Ba were acquired in June (other players were purchased after the financial year end) but their cost was offset by player amortization in the profit and loss account.

The club benefitted from player sales to the tune of £4.4m.  This was mainly from the sale of Gomez and Poyet.   As these two players came from the academy and so would have been carried the books at zero cost so the entire transfer fee would be accounted for as profit.  As expected, it looks like the club sold Morrison for a pittance but surprisingly it looks like they managed to make a little bit of money of Lepoint too.

The club continues its policy of applying add on fees for players sold (based on appearances, call ups to the England squad etc).  This contingent revenue increased by £2m over the year.  However, the club also looks like it is trying to reduce the upfront costs of players it acquires by agreeing to pay contingent fees too as these roughly rose by £1.3m.  As they are contingent we do not know if and when these might be received or paid.  Poyet’s current form would seem to rule out further payments from his sale, although I suspect we will see more money from the Gomez deal once he is fit again.

There are no directors’ fees shown in the accounts.  The only director probably taking a salary is Katrien Meire and it’s probably coming from Staprix or another part of Duchatelet’s organisation.  It is reasonable to expect her to take a salary even though we might question her experience for the role but this move takes out a level of transparency that we would expect.

Club Financing
As we all know, the club is mainly financed by its parent company Staprix NV which is Roland Duchatelet’s holding company.  However, rather than putting money in as equity it has been lent to the club at a rate of 3%. These loans increased during the year from £28.5m to £38m.  This covers the club’s losses, capital investment and repayment of some of the bank debt.

Interest of £955,000 was charged on these loans during the year.  While the rate is a very reasonable commercial rate it misses the point in that it is paying the owner.  If this was equity then it is unlikely that a dividend would be paid out owing to the losses incurred by the club.  This makes Staprix a creditor rather than a shareholder which puts Duchatelet’s money on par with the milk bill.

The only reason I can think for this is that interest is tax deductible and the money is being recycled anyway in additional loans.  However, you can only claim the tax back if you actually pay tax in the first place and the company needs to be profitable first before it can offset this.

The Future
The focus on next year’ accounts (to June 2016) will be on player costs and turnover.  We brought in a number of players in the summer and a lot of players on short term loans and contracts in January.  This, combined with new contracts for Gudmundsson in the summer and more recently for Lookman are bound to increase the wage bill.  This will probably be partially offset by the sale of Lookman to a Premier League club.

I expect turnover to be down on the basis of falling attendances as results on the pitch failed to live up to expectations.  It will be interesting to see the impact of the Charlton Card campaign too.  The rumours are that Delaware North are not happy with how things have turned out on their contract.



#support the team not the regime



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Thursday, 10 March 2016

Charlton Athletic Accounts to June 2015 are now out

For those of you interested the financial report and accounts for Charlton Athletic for the year ending June 2015 are now available at Companies House.  There are three companies in the group:-

1. Baton 2010 Limited, the holding company
2. Charlton Athletic Football Company Limited, the company that operates the football club
3. Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited which is a property holding company

On an initial glance there is nothing glaring in the accounts except that income fell across the board and the club is still financed by loans charged at 3% from Roland Duchatelet's holding company Staprix NV.

I hope to provide a more complete breakdown of the club's finances once I've had a chance to study them in more depth.

#support the team not the regime



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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

We want our Charlton back !

Passionate Protest by Charlton Supporters on Saturday

The ourcharlton.org.uk petition against the current owner has now passed the 5,000 mark.  If CEO Katrien Meire's argument that the number of discontented fans is a mere 2% this means that there is an active Charlton fan base of 250,000!

However, if you take Saturday's attendance at the match against Blackburn of 13,512 that's 37% of fans (more if you exclude the away support).

Of course the true figure is a little south of this, with a number of Blackpool and Leeds fans having also signed the petition in sympathy with our plight. 

However, one can't argue that this is now a significant figure, and considerably north of our CEO's dismissive 2% comments.  You also can't dispute that there were 3,000 fans protesting after the game.

It got a little foggy
I'd get the calculator out Katrien, it doesn't look like maths is your strongest point.  Alternatively, rather than dismissing us you could try and be a bit contrite.  We all make mistakes and it's not too late for you and Roland to properly engage with the fan base and attempt to make amends.  You never know, it might also improve the club's financial situation.

However, as it stands, the recent media releases by the club mean that it looks like there is a long way to go before the CEO and distant owner are prepared to properly engage with fans and so the protests will go on.

If you are a Charlton fan and don't like the way the club is being run or the way fans are being treated then please visit the site above but do read the petition first before you choose to sign it.





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