Tuesday 28 June 2011

Two more signings

The signing of Dale Stephens from Oldham is imminent for £375,000 on a 3-year contract. Danny Green from Dagenham is expected to sign tomorow: Signings

Now we just need to do something about central defence.

Monday 27 June 2011

Summer of plenty

The Chinese premier was in Stratford on Avon yesterday enjoying an excerpt from Hamlet. Unfortunately his schedule did not allow him to visit the well appointed stadium of Stratford Town. Stratford Town Council are not short of money, owning properties in the centre of town and the Anne Hathaway Stadium has a decent stand and particularly good training pitches.

The Bardsmen are always putting one over the Brakes by recruiting their players or beating them in local cups. Now they are staging Birmingham City's home matches in the women's super league. They are getting £15k for the nine matches, plus all the proceeds from selling burgers to what have turned out to be decent crowds.

Brakes kick off their season with a friendly at home to Tamworth on Friday week.

I didn't make this up

Uefa has announced its new round of research awards. These include:

Effect of hot/cold temperatures on referees' ability to perform (My comment: if you're rubbish, you will be rubbish if it's hot or cold)

Protect her knee: exploring the role of football-specific fatigue on dynamic knee stability in female youth football players (My comment: Surprisingly this project is not being headed by Ron Knee of Neasden FC of the North Circular Relegation League, but by Mark De Ste Croix).

Anti-violence supporter groups in Serbian football: an ethnology case study. (My comment: presumably this is a small N study).

Rory McAllister opts for plumbing

24-year old striker Rory McAllister was the target of a number of clubs including Charlton. However, he has decided to accept a two year part-time contract with Peterhead. His main reason for staying with the Blue Toon is that he is in the final year of his plumbing apprenticeship and he clearly thinks that this offers better prospects than football.

Perhaps he could have doubled up at The Valley on plumbing maintenance and playing.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Charlton offer ray of hope to Kettering

It looks very likely that Kettering Town will abandon their Rockingham Road stadium and move the eight miles to beautiful downtown Irthlingborough. Rushden and Diamonds are on the verge of collapse and Nene Park is claimed to be the best stadium outside the Football League.

Not all Kettering fans are happy about the move, but the lease on Rockingham Road has just two years to run and the maximum extension on offer is seven years which would debar the Poppies from the Football League promotion they aspire to.

So where does Charlton come into all this? In an editorial today's Non-League Paper concludes, 'for those [Kettering fans] who fear it will signal the end of the club, think of Charlton. Kicked out of the Valley in 1985. But their fans stuck with them - and home they came.'

The Valley Party continues to be an inspiration to fans everywhere, even if many of those involved have scattered to the four winds. Rick Everitt is a Labour councillor in Ramsgate, although still with a role at The Valley and Richard Hunt has lived for many years in Prague.

Gordon Bennett

Do you remember Mickey Bennett who was eventually sold to Wimbledon? He is now the counsellor for the Professional Footballers' Association.

Friday 24 June 2011

Two more signings?

The Addicks have been linked with up-and-coming Dagenham and Redbridge midfielder Danny Green who was with Charlton until he was fifteen, but Sky have reported that a Championship club (possibly Ipswich) have made a better offer: Green

The Sun, however, reckons that we have signed him for £400,000: Signed

After being let go by Charlton, Green then signed for Northampton Town earning his first professional contract but moved to Nottingham Forest a year later. In 2008 Green was released by Forest and signed for Conference South club Bishop's Stortford.

We are also being linked with Oldham midfielder Dale Stephens. In the case of Stephens, Sky say we are about to make an offer, but a number of other Championship and League 1 clubs are in the frame: Stephens

Thursday 23 June 2011

Addicks favourites to win promotion

Charlton are favourites to win promotion to the Championship next season. At least that's the view of this Preston North End site which gives a through overview of the Addicks from the perspective of the relegated club: Preston

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Three in at The Valley

Striker Paul Hayes, left back Cedric Evina and midfielder Mikel Alonso have joined Charlton. The Addicks fought off interest from Scunthorpe and Doncaster to secure the signature of Hayes on a two year contract: Hayes

It seems to me to be likely that Hayes and Wright-Phillips will be the favoured strike partnership with Benson coming on from the bench.

19-year old Evina is a former Arsenal trainee and turned down a fresh deal at Oldham to be nearer to London and his family. More about Evina can be found here: Evina

One Addick has commented about him, 'Cedric Evina might prove to be a bit of a coup. He was captain of the Arsenal youth team that took Liverpool apart a couple of years ago but was released soon afterwards and joined Oldham. He's a left back, although his pace allows him to play quite high up the pitch and he has been taking
corners at Oldham I believe. He played against us for them and caused no end of problems.'

31-year old Mikel Alonso, whose younger brother plays for Real Madrid, decided to leave Tenerife after they were relegated to the third tier of Spanish football.

BBC London Sport are talking about six more signings!

Racon joins 'big club'

Therry Racon, out of contract at The Valley, has accepted a two year contract at Millwall: Racon

The move to a rival club will leave a sour taste in the mouths of many of the Addickted. How he will perform there remains to be seen. For Charlton he showed flashes of real quality but was very inconsistent.

Owls supremo plays waiting game

Sheffield Wednesday boss Gary Megson is biding his time to complete the acquisition of Charlton player of the year Jose Semedo: Semedo

The Addicks are looking for a new friendly opponent after the pre-season game against Reading was called off when the two teams were drawn against each other in the Carling Cup.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Steel City opponents

An interesting feature here on the decline of Sheffield football: Steel City

For some reason Owls fans seem a bit obsessive about stating that they are bigger than us. Both away matches will be a big test.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Millwall swoop for Hayes?

Unconfirmed reports are suggesting that Millwall have swooped for Charlton target Paul Hayes. The former Preston North End striker is said to have signed a two year contract at The New Den.

Friday 17 June 2011

Frimpong named as Addicks target

19-year old Emmanuel Frimpong is an Arsenal midfielder who is yet to make the Gooners first team. In order to progress his career he is now reported to be considering an offer from the Addicks. Championship side Cardiff City are also in the frame, but he may prefer to stay in London: Frimpong

He is bigged up by the Gooners but one might expect that: Potential

However, I am by no means sure that Arsene Wenger would let him go given that he sees him as a potential England international. Frimpong may simply be trying to advance his career at the Emirates by threatening to move on.

He was born in Ghana, but moved to Haringey at an early age and signed for Arsenal when he was nine years old. He has played for England at a youth level. Last August he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in training which kept him out for much of the season and affected his progress.

Same old

So this season's fixture see us opening against Bournemouth and finish against Hartlepool again? Is someone try to tell us something? 'Awful league, awful fixtures' tweeted one fan.

Someone has a sense of humour as we are away to Yeovil on Boxing Day. I suppose it is good news for our Somerset fans.

After playing the Cherries at home, we are away to Notts County and then Colchester so it could be a faltering start.

The club has confirmed that negotiations with Paul Hayes about a move to Charlton are at an advanced stage. He has now left Preston North End.

Key post from New York Addick

One of the most important posts I have ever seen on a Charlton blog has appeared from the New York Addick: Revealing .

The NYA understands how markets work and the business side of football. He has been researching the background to the Charlton takeover and I think that he has seen more than the tip of the iceberg. He has some very important reflections on the role of Chris Powell which on one reading would see him as being more or less 'set up'.

The NYA has an important analogy with value investing and that is as much a matter of luck as skill. He provides cogent reasons why the new owners, and the mystery funder behind them, should choose Charlton. But whether it will all turn out well is in the lap of the gods - and the other teams we have to play against in the third division.

At one point he talks of promotion in 3-4 years and that would stretch the patience of most fans. The brutal truth is that the standard of football in League 1 is not very good.

The one factor he underplays in my view is the general economic context. The Times has recently named Bexleyheath, a core area of Charlton support, as the typical home of the 'squeezed middle'.

Let me give you a free stylised facts about the British economy:
1. Britain has been living beyond its means for years in terms of public and private consumption and now the bill has come in.
2. The squeezing of consumer income is a deliberate objective as part of 'rebalancing' the economy towards export led growth: any government would have to do pretty much the same (if they didn't the Bank of England and the international financial markets would make sure they did).
3. The long-term economic and geopolitical balance in the world is shifting against countries like Britain and indeed almost all European countries (the three main exceptions are Germany, Sweden and Switzerland).
4. Living standards of those on median incomes are likely to fall for some time and may never fully recover.

This does have implications for discretionary leisure spending: essentials like food, petrol and utilities are going up fast (and there are global structural forces underpinning these increases which are not likely to disappear).

What this means is that if a club like Charlton, many of whose supporters are in the median income range, is going to get fans through the gate to an extent that sustains the club it is going to have to deliver on the pitch. The Addickted are loyal, but they can only take so many years of failure.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Carling Cup draw

Charlton have been drawn at home to Reading. The match is to be played on Tuesday August 9th subject to police approval and will give the Addicks an early opportunity to concentrate on the league.

In their pre-season visit to Spain, Charlton will play matches against Bristol City and Cardiff City.

Jenkinson move 'took us by surprise'

Charlton academy supremo Steve Avory claims that the move of Carl Jenkinson to Arsenal took staff by surprise: Jenkinson . In the interview with Radio London he implies that the Finnish international would have benefitted from a year's further development at Charlton, although I am not surprised that he chose to join Arsenal.

I was disappointed to hear that the women's team have lost their centre of excellence status. I think that Morts has done a good job there.

Morts admits that he did not see the decision coming, but no fault attaches to him: Women

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Charlton linked with QPR player

Charlton have been linked with QPR midfielder Martin Rowlands: Rowlands

The 32-year old made just four appearances for the Super Hoops last season. He was sent out to Millwall on loan for a month, but failed to make a single start. His original signing by QPR was a bit of a punt, although he has shown an ability to score goals from midfield.

If there is anything in this, it doesn't excite me very much. He does seem to have had more than his fair share of injury problems: Career

Helping Africa to develop

Commercial agriculture can help development in Africa. Work within the RELU programme by Gareth Edwards-Jones at Bangor University has, for example, shown how that part of the Ugandan and Kenyan rural economy that serves European markets is providing a higher level of prosperity for its workers: RELU

This is, of course, controversial and much of the African rural economy is made up of subsistence or semi-agriculture. Charities like Farm Africa seek to make incremental, small-scale improvements in the way in which these economies function with a particular focus on appropriate training: Farm Africa . Accessible technology of this kind is important, but there is a view that it is not a long-term solution.

Here is an interesting piece on how the EU could help the South African economy to develop in the food sector: South Africa

I don't like the jargon term 'beneficiated' though!

Monday 13 June 2011

Would Billy Davies have been a better bet?

Billy Davies has been sacked at Nottingham Forest despite having a year left on his contract and having got to the Championship play offs two seasons running. However, it is not good enough for Forest who consider that they have an historic right to be in the Premiership.

Davies’s sacking came as no surprise after months of rows between him and the Forest board. He was perceived to be irascible. The club were concerned by the time Davies, whose family live in Scotland, was devoting to the job.

Billy Davies was, of course, Charlton's preferred choice to succeed Curbs. He met with Richard Murry and other members of the board and did say afterwards words to the effect that they were 'good people' (which may be another way of saying they were nice guys but lacking in the moolah Davies thinks he has not got at Forest).

As Richard Murray told the story, Davies was booked into the Swallow hotel so that talks could resume the next day. However, rather than enjoying the gratis three star luxury, Davies headed north through the Blackwall Tunnel in the general direction of his native heath and was never seen again. This created an opportunity for rocket scientist Iain Dowie with his DVD to move north from Palace.

I quickly formed the view that Dowie was short of the full complement of rocket fuel, although I have to hold my hands up and say that I welcomed the appointment of Alan Pardew as his replacement. But perhaps Pards inherited a poisoned chalice.

If Billy Davies had decided to come as far south as Charlton (perhaps making use of convenient flights north of the border from London City) how different would our recent history have been? Some would say we were already on a downward curve towards the end of the Curbs era.

However, Davies might have at least kept us as a competitive Championship club which we would certainly take today. It's one of the great 'might have beens' of Charlton's chequered history.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Valley Gold and the Academy

Like many Addicks, I am a long-standing member of the Valley Gold scheme. At £10 a month its real cost has gone down over time, although I see that we are now being urged to take out multiple subscriptions. It's a way of supporting the club's Academy work which gives you the chance of winning a prize (I got £500 once).

There are currently 1,720 subscribers, although some of these have multiple memberships. So at a guesstimate it might raise £225k a year but then you have to take off the cost of the prizes and of administration by the slightly oddly named 'Charlton club'.

I also get the Valley Gold magazine which I don't always read as closely as I should. But having some time last week between afternoon meetings and an evening reception at the House of Commons I sat down in St.James's Park, ignored the tourists feeding and photographing lazy squirrels and read it from cover to cover.

Understandably there is a feature on Callum Harriot. He is the current Academy product who gives the greatest cause for hope and let's hope that he realises his potential. There haven't been so many in recent years and the two most promising ones (Shelvey and Jenkinson) have been snapped up by top clubs, albeit providing us with some cash flow. But I suspect that in all Academy operations, many are called and few are chosen. The non-league system is certainly full of former Academy players who failed to make the cut.

It's possibly a little disingenuous of Valley Gold to say, 'Charlton's academy has always been about providing players for our first team - we've never intended to sell players after four to eight years of development for another club's benefit.'

What was of concern to me, and what I had not realised before, was that proposed changes to the academy system which are due to be implemented in the 2012/13 season could have a significant and negative impact on our efforts.

Academies are going to be categorised and basically you need a lot of readies to get into the coveted category one. For example, you would have to provide on-site school provision from the age of 14 (requiring tutors and classrooms) plus at least seven full-tme coaching staff.

As the Valley Gold magazine comments, 'More worryingly, category one clubs would only play matches against other category one clubs.' In other words, Arsenal or Chelsea would no longer have to face the possible humiliation of defeat by Charlton. As the magazine goes on to note, 'This is an area of real concern because it looks as though it's another step towards the academy system becoming more elitist.'

Clearly moves of this kind could undermine the academy's recruitment strategy, leading to a fall in the quality of the players. Quite what we can do about this is another matter.

Congratulations to the Bromley Addicks on raising enough money to support the U15s. This group of supporters has always been very prominent in club activities, including organising very interesting meetings.

Incidentally, I see someone has written a book on supporting Bromley FC which is to be turned into a film. His parents wouldn't let him go to Palace as it was all kicking off down there. My first thought was why didn't he go to The Valley, but then I realised this was probably in our exile years and before the return to The Valley when the Bromley branch turned up in an open top bus.


One poster yesterday seemed to think that my story about Alan Curbishely and Villa was made up, so that is a good opportunity to talk about sources. Incidentally, I don't think that Curbs will get the Villa job but he did think it was worth putting himself in the frame - and why not?

I am now probably better networked into Midlands football than I am at Charlton. I do quite a lot of work for television, radio and print media up here, none of it paid - which gives me some favours I can call in.

Two concrete examples (neither of them the source for the Villa story). On Bank Holiday Sunday, Sky News rang me up. I knew then that it was a slow news day: once they had me in front of the Shakespeare birthplace in Stratford talking about Englishness in front of gawking Japanese tourists.

Anyway, they wanted to do a piece on Swansea City and who should be on the satellite truck as reporter but Darren whose wife is our digital productions manager and for whom I do pieces from time to time. For example, she came over to Boston Ma. with us to film some stories there.

Last week I did a long interview for the Coventry Evening Telegraph on Coventry City. This gave me a full set of their accounts which I was able to use on my football economy page.

My sources at Charlton were better during the Curbishley era. On one occasion I stood in for Sir Rick Everitt writing the match reports when His Rickness went on holiday to Australia. One glamour assignment was covering an away reserve match at Wantage (Oxford United) on a freezing night, the tedium only being relieved by Mark Bright being booked by referee Wendy Toms.

I was one of Alan Curbishley's kit sponsors and I made sure that he had a supply of quality champagne to celebrate good wins (one he cited was the away win at West Brom which was possibly some of the best football I ever saw us play, well for 30 minutes anyway). Curbs would tell me things, not major secrets, but material I could use as unattributed background.

Richard Murray held a briefing for bloggers. This was after Curbs had left, but was very informative about the series of events that led to the appointment of rocket scientist Iain Dowie.

I also had a source in the press office during this period (no longer at the club). He would give me occasional stories and I was well aware that the reason for doing this was to fly kites and see what the reaction was. More recently, I did get a story from a friend of a player.

However, I would have to say that I cannot give as authoritative a news service as in the past. As I am now getting involved in the governance of Leamington FC, I may not be able to get to The Valley as much as in the past. But I will be launching a new third division diary when I get time later in the summer.

This will be an austerity model in line with the mood at The Valley and the call to 'tighten our belts' from the likes of Ken Clarke as featured on a recent Private Eye cover. When I started watching Charlton sweets and chocolate were still rationed. Then, suddenly all the misery was gone and I am hoping for a similar emergence to better times at The Valley.

As for the Curbs story, I think it was plausible and well founded. I have only just picked this up, but Talksport had an interview on Friday with a former Villa defender recommending Curbs.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Racon in Palace talks?

According to the Currant Bun, Thierry Racon is the subject of interest by Crystal Palace and Bristol City. However, Sir Alex Ferguson is yet to make contact.

Often these rumours are started by agents trying to interest someone in their client or at least boost his price.

Reports state that we have made midfielder Gavin Rae, released by Cardiff City, a better offer than Aberdeen but he may still prefer to don the kilt and return to his home town club.

Curbs talks to Villa

Alan Curbishley has been in contact with Aston Villa after Roberto Martinez decided to stay at Wigan. Although Mark Hughes is now the favourite, there is a view at the club that he might just use it as a stepping stone to greater things.

Curbishley, who did play for Villa bfeore moving to The Valley, was interviewed for the role following the departure of Martin O'Neill last August.

At one time it was thought that Curbs (with his wife as a possible influence) would not take a job outside the M25. However, if he wants to get back into management at the top level he may need to be less restrictive.

The view being argued in the media is that Villa fans would not welcome his appointment: Curbs This view seems also to be held by Villa fans here in Leamington who have said they would not dance in the Parade if he was appointed.

On the other hand, they would not welcome Alex McLeish who has just got the Blews relegated but is apparently highly regarded by owner Randy Lerner. Fortunately for Villa fans, relegation specialst Iain Dowie is not yet in the frame but you never know.

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Arsenal pay over £1m for Jenkinson

Arsenal have paid over £1m up front for the signature of Charlton's Carl Jenkinson. More here: Jenkinson

Jenkinson said: 'I hope supporters will understand why I can't turn down such an opportunity, but Charlton will always have a place in my heart,' said Jenkinson. 'I will always be in Charlton's debt for the training they have given me since a young age.'

'I'm grateful to the club's academy and all the coaching staff, so I'm delighted the two clubs have come to an agreement.'

Jenkinson has just tweeted to say that he can't describe his happiness at joining his boyhood club and thanks all the Arsenal fans who have welcomed him. If he was going to go to another London club, Arsenal would be my preferred choice. He may sink or swim there, but it is an opportunity that he cannot turn down.

Carl has been trending on Twitter, but mostly on a 'Who?' basis.

Mandaric's millions to secure Semedo

It looks as if out-of-contract Jose Semedo might be going to join Sheffield Wednesday: Semedo

Such a move is not unexpected, but we shall certainly miss the Portugeezer who will be remembered as one of the more inspiring players in a bleak spell for the Addicks. At least hatred of Millwall may now find its place in Sheffield.

There have also been suggestions that Bristol City may be interested and possibly even Pards at Newcastle.

Bougherra wants that Valley magic

Madjid Bougherra wants to quit Rangers, but will only walk away from the Scottish champions with the blessing of manager Ally McCoist.

'Magic' reckons that the time he had at The Valley were the best of his career. He said, 'My focus is still on the Premier League. I played there with Charlton for six months and want to go back as six months is not a long time.'

Unfortunately, the Addicks can no longer offer Premiership football.

Monday 6 June 2011

Looking on the bright side of life

Apparently there was an interesting interview on Radio Kent on Saturday afternoon with Peter Varney and Michael Slater. Even if I hadn't been suffering from Frau Rita and her unreliable Wi-Fi (for which she had the grace not to charge me), I wouldn't have heard it.

However, Peter Varney argued that we should look at last season as a positive. Michael and Tony came in and saved the club, helping us to avoid a possible relegation to League Two. Without them the club could have entered administration: Abyss

Sagacious commentators have pointed out that Paul Hart should not be seen as a potential replacement for Chris Powell if things don't work out. Hart has had more than enough cracks of the whip as manager to know that is not his forte. Youth development is his speciality and that is why he has been brought in. Hart's talent in youth development should help Powell to deliver.

The new owners want success, no doubt about that. But they want to achieve it in a prudent way. We don't want our accounts qualified by the auditors as has just happened to Coventry City.

I'm still reeling from the extent to which people in Germany refused to speak English to me, even when it was clear that they could. Even in Zurich Airport, German was insisted on. One café proprietor in Konstanz even complained to me about my East German accent.

But then when I think about it when I checked in for an Iberia flight at Heathrow not so long ago they insisted on speaking in Spanish throughout. Perhaps it's a new linguistic nationalism.

This is developing into one of those odd loose connections features you get in programmes. But then the originator of stream of consciousness writing is commemorated by a blue plaque in Charlton. Italo Svevo, wrongly rendered as Sveno on the plaque, aka Ettore Schmitz, lived at 67 Charlton Church Lane from 1903-13, although his role in the club in the early days remains obscure.

It is the close season after all.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Alles its nicht in ordnung!

Konstanz, BRD: I am struggling with a very erratic wi-fi connection in the attic of this traditional German guest house. If any difficulty arises, the proprietor's wife (who seems to be in charge) pretends to speak only German and I can't get beyond 'Ihre wi-fi ist kaput. Alles ist nicht in ordnung.'

Hence it has been a struggle to keep up with developments at The Valley. However, I gather that Pravda is reporting that we had a £300,000 offer for a left-back from Bournemouth turned down. This has three interesting implications:
1. That there is a left back at Bournemouth worth that sort of money.
2. That Bessone is thought not to be the answer.
3. That we have enough readies to think of splashing 300k on a defender.

There has also been a restructuring at Sparrows Lane. This is being spun as giving Chris Powell the resources he needs to finish the job, but a heretical interpretation is that it provides a potential alternative should things not work out next season.

Given that we have England v. Switzerland tonight and that the border with the land of the cuckoo clock runs through the town, it was interesting that at dinner last night locals spent half the meal mocking the Swiss, telling poor jokes about them and denouncing them and all their works.

Wednesday 1 June 2011

The New England Tea Men

For those of you who remember Charlton's relationship with them and Laurie Abrahams, there's some interesting material here, some of it new to me: Tea Men