Thursday, 12 November 2015

Wrong side of the river

Even the plans to move Charlton to the peninsula would have left the club south of the River Thames with all the fashionable clubs located on the city's more prosperous north side. West Ham United are to move closer to the fashionable centre of corporate power at the Olympic Stadium. The impressive Swiss Ramble blog has looked at their finances in detail and proclaimed them to be currently one of the most exciting football projects in Europe. Read more at our sister site: Hammers On The Up

I haven't watched the video of the meeting with fans yet, and I am not sure when I will be able to find the time to do so. Indeed, I might quickly lose the will to live, having read the account by the Chicago Addick. These meetings do attract a lot of blowhards who like the sound of their own voice.

What seems to me is that the core questions were not addressed or only indirectly. First, what is the club's plan to avoid relegation and make us real Premiership contenders, as is the stated aspiration? It would have been nice to hear 'we intend to strengthen the squad in the January transfer window'.

Second, what is to be done to repair a breakdown of relations between fans and the club which could send attendances towards 10k rather than up to 20k? Katrien Meire argued that only two per cent of fans protested, but more are concerned about the club's direction of travel. I am far from sure that restructuring the Fans' Forum will do the trick.

I happened to spend yesterday working with a Belgian who had heard of Roland as a very wealthy man. He was very surprised that we had a coach from the Belgian third division.

It is appropriate at this time to remember the sacrifices that Belgium made in the First World War. His home town of Leuven was sacked by the Germans with only the Town Hall of the major buildings left standing. Priceless mediaeval manuscripts were burnt. At this time of year giant pictures show the town as it used to be. In a nearby village, half the men were shot after a German colonel had been killed, supposedly by the Resistance. In fact, it was a drunken German soldier.

Our quarrel is not Belgium or Belgians, but with Roland and his representative on Earth. One still hopes there will be a change of strategy because:

  • I don't think Roland is going to sell the club any time soon.
  • If he did, I don't think there would be any credible buyers.
  • I think that Karel Fraeye will still be in charge at Christmas, hopefully the partnership with Jason Euell will develop.

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