Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The Thames Gateway effect

Part of the argument for Charlton being attractive to a potential investor is the so-called Thames Gateway effect, that new development in the 'Estuary' will create a base of potential Addicks fans. Last week's issue of The Economist takes a rather sceptical look at the Thames estuary under the headline 'Full metal riverside', although it does admit that 'for much of the past 30 years London's centre of economic gravity has been swinging eastwards.' The towers of Canary Wharf are both visually close and yet socially far from The Valley. Of course, one implication could be that Charlton should eventually move to the site of the Dome.

The Economist pours some scorn on a new development at 'Barking Riverside' which prospective buyers have to reach through acres of warehouses. Across the river is a sewage treatment plant while nearby is the site where Stanley Kubrick filmed the final scenes of 'Full Metal Jacket', a derelict gasworks standing in for the destroyed city of Hue. However, what is noticeable is that all the projects that are discussed are on the north side of the river. The only project mentioned on the south side is a proposed theme park near Ebbsfleet.

Development north of the river is likely to favour West Ham at their new Olympic Stadium site. In the last Voice of the Valley Richard Hunt expressed some concern about this might cut into Charlton's support base. Indeed, the former Valley Party activist has exercised his rights as a EU citizen (and Czech resident) to complain to the European Commission that the West Ham move violates competition rules. Of course, the original proposal had to be modified to meet EU state aid rules. Moreover, the competition directorate-general is chasing bigger fish in the form of Real Madrid who allegedly have received substantial illegal subsidies from the Madrid regional government.

In any case the geographical patterns of support in London have always been complex as this map shows: Support Map . Arsenal retained many fans south of the river and it was believed in the 1950s that an Arsenal home game would cut attendances at The Valley by 2,000. There are also plenty of West Ham supporters around, with the map showing shared errors of support around the edges of the home boroughs, and in part this reflects our period of exile. When we played Manchester United at home, 'followers' from Kent would turn up in our family areas.

Talking of so-called rivals, I was amused to read the Gillingham captain claim that they would achieve back-to-back promotions as their rightful place was in the Championship given their support base. Mind you, Yeovil and their uncovered away end could be in the Championship. Come on you Bees!

1 comment:

sevensix said...

The Economist may not refer to large proposed developments south of the Thames but there are plenty of them including those between Convoys Wharf and Deptford Creek, moving east to those between Lovells Wharf and the Greenwich Peninsula, and then on the new proposals at Woolwich, The Royal Arsenal, Thamesmead, Eastern Quarry and the Medway Towns. Having said this I agree that there is no direct relationship between new development and new supporters - the effects of new development are always less straightforward than often assumed.