Friday, 13 February 2015

How crowds vary

A visit to the ballet is a rare experience for me. I have been to the Bolshoi under the Soviet regime; to see Cordelia at La Scale in Milan; and I once took our youngest daughter to Birmingham when she was into ballet. Her daughter has taken it more seriously and passed a succession of increasingly difficult exams.

I was invited to see Edward Scissorhands at the Birmingham Hippodrome yesterday and I have to say that it was an excellent performance, although I was quite surprised that when the director came on at the beginning to address the audience he looked a bit like a chartered accountant.

I go to live theatre in London, Birmingham and Stratford quite often, but what struck me is how distinctive the ballet audience is. First, the 1,800 capacity theatre was packed out (when I went to see the Welsh National Opera perform Anna Bolena last year it was half empty). Admittedly, that would be a good Conference crowd or a poor League 2 one.

I would estimate that the audience was 75 per cent - 80 per cent made up of women. I had also forgotten how enthusiastic ballet fans are: not just a standing ovation and many curtain calls, but also a great deal of yelling and hollering which you don't normally hear in the theatre.

This brings me to football crowds. They are still predominantly male and they are increasingly inclined to boo. I don't remember this in the 1950s. But then, of course, footballers were paid something like the wage of a skilled worker and lived in houses much like our own (often in club houses, note the pair next to The Valley, now in private ownership). Today, even in the Championship, players are paid very well compared to most fans.

So fans have an expectation that they will be 'entertained'. This reminds me that a well-known sports historian once told me that following a football club is really about suffering, and that certainly has some relevance to Charlton.

I accept than many recent performances have been dire. I'm not sure that booing during the game does anything to stimulate players whose confidence is already gone, but one can understand the frustration that leads to it as another pass is misplaced.

I am probably at variance with most fans in that I am not an advocate of Route 1, attacking football. Sometimes the best option is to play sideways or backwards, rather than lump the ball forward and lose possession.

When I arrived at The Valley on Tuesday, I was faced by a line of security staff, one of whom searched my bag but, to his disappointment, found only a scarf, a bobble hat, a copy of the Sub-Standard and some sandwiches.

There has been talk on the boards of various items that might be thrown on the pitch. Throwing flares is dangerous, particularly from the Upper North. Tennis balls are less lethal, but if they started falling on the pitch in numbers, the referee would have to take the players off and the club would be fined. Paper planes have been mentioned, but the young moaner behind me tries to get one on the pitch every half time and always fails.

Those who advocate such a course of action claim that it will bring media publicity, but I don't think Roland is bothered about that, either here or in Belgium. I think that a fall in financial revenue would concern him somewhat more, but would make the club less attractive to a new purchaser.

Roland is really driven by an experimental vision which is flawed and has led him into strategic and tactical errors, particularly when combined with a lack of much knowledge of football. However, I also realise that I am paying well below the full economic cost for my seat and that the owner has to fund the deficit which is at least £5m a year. If we were relegated, that might increase as fixed costs would be unchanged, but presumably there would be some player disposals, if only to cut the wage bill.

Once again I would urge fans to attend the CAS Trust meeting if they can and see what ideas emerge. It's not easy for me to get there from the Midlands on a weekday, particularly when I have to be in Plymouth the next day, but I will try.

BTW, humour can be an effective weapon as Guy Luzon's doctored Wikipedia entry shows: 'He was appointed to the post in January 2015.[1]. Despite his lack of knowledge of English football, any tactical prowess or nous, and perhaps not actually being qualified to manage in Sunday league football, Luzon was offered the role of head coach after Charlton director Katrien Meire conducted a thorough search of the footballing world, a process that she later revealed took around 45 minutes to complete. Chants are often heard emanating from The Valley's 'Covered End', along the lines of 'You don't know what you're doing' and 'You're not Mourinho!', the latter being a reference to Luzon's penchant for crouching on the touchline, like an idiot. Luzon is not expected to last very long at Charlton, although he will almost certainly end up managing another Roland Duch√Ętelet club in the near future.'


Anonymous said...

I've seen various posters claiming Roland is loosing £5k a year. The only fact we know is that he is a 'business man' and his non attendance suggests he is not a football fan. We don't know his financial details.
Businessmen, like politicians, have ways of dealing with loses, especially when their business empires spread across boundaries (Amazon). Paper aeroplanes
won't reach our Belgium monarch. We just have to make the most of the suffering.

Anonymous said...

Correction, £5mil is the said figure, wish it was £5k. The worry is if we do go down and the investment is then cut even more (yes), assets will be sold off. Igor V Tony W Jordon C Joe G Chris S and others are all too good for Div 3 and worth a lot of money and would prob want to leave anyway would you stay?. Radical stuff coming up? Whatever the scenario, if RD doesn't invest and we get relegated, then it's looking very bleak indeed folks.
Some will say others have bounced back, true but with investment and skill.

Anonymous said...

I have watched so many WW2 films where loyal German soldiers have whispered criticism of the Fuhrer for opening up too many fronts at the same time and for being mad in doing so. Obviously leading them to certain defeat and death. If overheard then they are often taken out and shot.
My world is suddenly becoming very black and white.
Anyone got a cigarette ?

Wyn Grant said...

I'm not a company lawyer or tax lawyer or accountant, so there are limits to what I can make of accounts. In any case, here one is dealing with companies in a number of different jurisdictions, albeit all within the EU. In principle, I would have thought there was scope for using losses to offset tax liabilities, but I don't really know.

Anonymous said...

Speculation I know.
Now we know why Riga didn't return, the Master, tactician had a plan.
If we did get relegated then Standard and Riga could have the pick of some very interesting talented young players wanting to move on. Hard to resist picking them apples. Would Charlton supporters then have a case in considering that unjustifiable asset stripping. Win win for some. Lose lose for others. Anyone for chess.

Brian G said...

You didn't bump into any of our central defenders at the ballet, did you, Wyn?

Wyn Grant said...

Very good, but the thought of Bikey dancing in a ballet stretches the imagination. Ben Haim would undoubtedly emerge from the back sweeping forward.

Anonymous said...

Fear not Guy's now giving the team Luzonaid at half time!