Before I got the watch the segment about Charlton on I-Player I was interested in these comments from an Addick which reflect my thinking about Roland:
'Well I’ve just read the BBC website story and watched the video and I don’t see anything to be worried about. Given the relative level of Standard and us we’re more likely to get players that aren’t quite good enough for their first team coming to us.'
'And since when have we not had to sell our better players to balance the books? We’ve done it throughout my time as a supporter going back to before the return to The Valley.' [It was certainly happening in the 1950s under the Glikstens].'
'This really does smack of the BBC trying to find a story when one doesn’t exist. The video appears to me to have been edited in such a way as to reflect negatively on both Duchatelet and de Sart. Duchatelet has said on multiple occasions that he’s not going to throw money at any of his clubs and that they need to stand on their own feet. Makes sense to me. It might also help us attract good young talent in this country if they know that, should they outgrow Charlton, they’ve got a potential shot of going to a Champions League team. Of course, time will tell.'
I have now watched the clip on I-Player which started with dramatic and gloomy music playing to set the tone. I suppose if nothing else it got a BBC reporter a trip on Eurostar to Liege. The independent coffee shop analogy amused me as the main consequence of my local coffee shop being taken over would be that I would no longer have to struggle with my order in Portuguese. (The broader point here is that we do live in a Europeanised environment). The most interesting revelation in the programme which no one else has mentioned is that there is going to be a meeting of all Roland's clubs in the next week to discuss how they are going to work together. That could be an important meeting.
The Liege fans were clearly very fed up with Roland when he arrived and staged demonstrations of a type consistent with the history of the city. However, they have all been mollified now that SL are top of the league, although they have lost their last two matches and could fall foul of Belgium's curious play off system (see Chicago Addick for more details).
One Liege fan said that he thought that Roland was out to make money, but he is too shrewd a businessman to think that you can make money out of clubs. He certainly doesn't want to lose money, and may sell Charlton players if that is necessary to balance the books, but his real inspiration is his 'grand projet'. Like all experiments, that could succeed or fail.
Jean-Francois de Sart struck me as a bit of a plonker in need of some media training, but his English is reasonably good and almost certainly better than Chris Powell's French.
I don't think we needed someone from Millwall to tell us that fans should be worried, particularly when he claimed that his team was playing well, just not getting the points.
If I have a reservation about Roland's strategy, it is its reliance on financial fair play working. I am certain there are going to be legal challenges at international and domestic level and some of them might succeed given a possible incompatibility with competition law. Even if the legal challenges do not succeed, it is going to take some time for the full benefits to be felt.