Monday 30 November 2015

Elsewhere in the Relegation League

Bolton Wanderers are currently bottom of the Championship and we will be playing them soon. Our sister site looks at their plight: there are some interesting contrasts with Charlton: Bolton Wanderers

The first team playing squad are yet to receive their wages for November: Cash flow

Protests didn't help team says Gudmundsson

Johann Berg Gudmundsson has said that the protests and chanting at Saturday's match did not help the team: Dampener

This does not seem to have gone down too well with fans. After all, Gudmundsson himself tweeted on Saturday that the team's performance was not good enough.

The protests were limited to the second minute. Admittedly, there wasn't much of an atmosphere, but there were big empty spaces in the home stands. This was probably because of a combination of the early start, the fact that the game was on television and discontent with the current regime at Charlton.

Top fan Jonathan Acworth is setting up a meeting in Greenwich next Sunday to discuss the way forward for the club. However, rather than any individual initiatives, my preference would be to channel activity through the CAS Trust which is having some success in establishing a dialogue with the club.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Another 0-3 defeat at home

Charlton went down at home to Ipswich today for the fourth season in a row, but the margin of defeat was bigger and replicated recent 0-3 defeats at The Valley. Johann Berg Gudmundsson tweeted, 'Gutted about today. Not good enough from all of us.'

Charlton have slipped to 21st, on the same number of points as Bristol City and MK Dons, but behind them on goal difference. Rotherham United are just one point behind, as are Huddersfield.

I don't think we played that badly today, but the difference between the two sides was that Ipswich created more chances and took them clinically. When we had a half chance, we tended to dither. Also, the Ipswich keeper made three good saves late in the game.

Simon Makienok is arguably the most useless player in a Charlton shirt since Karim Bagheri. At least Bagheri made only one appearance as a substitute, in the rain at Ipswich, when he managed to make contact with the ball once.

For a tall guy, Makienok has considerable difficulty in dealing with high balls. He seems unable to jump, although quite why I don't know. Vaz Te looked quite useful, at least he put in some shots.

Things started to go wrong for us when the skipper had to be taken off early in the game with an apparent facial injury. Jackson was replaced by Solly with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis adopting a position on the left. Holmes-Dennis had a good game throughout, as did Lookman.

Striker Daryl Murphy scored twice as the Tractors extended their unbeaten run to six Championship games. The Republic of Ireland international headed Mick McCarthy's side ahead from close range after a goalmouth scramble. This followed a corner and once again showed our vulnerability at set pieces and our difficulty in clearing our lines. Having seen the goal on television, it was evident that there was a foul just before it was scored with a Charlton player (Solly?) receiving a hand in the face.

I was concerned that Ipswich would score a second before the break, making it difficult for us to get back into the game. This is what happened as Freddie Sears fired in the second in first-half stoppage time for his first goal in 12 games before Murphy slotted in the visitors' third to put the game beyond reach.

Charlton did not give up and Dean Gerken twice saved from Ricardo Vaz Te late on as Charlton went close. Substitute Reza Ghoochannejhad also headed just wide from Chris Solly's pin-point cross in stoppage time but by then Ipswich's victory was already assured.

Ipswich did display a professional level of cynicism, their players falling to the floor in agony when Charlton broke away on the attack and then making a miraculous recovery. We didn't get any favours from the referee who had not got over breaking his bottle of hair restorer in the dressing room before the game.

The early start gave me a journey down in an over crowded train full of Brummies, a number of whom had already had a few drinks. I normally buy my Voice of the Valley off one of the elves or gnomes, but today I got it from Rick Everitt himself, and on the rare occasions I do that we always get hammered.

I was expecting to encounter a line of jobsworths ready to search my bag when I got in the ground, but there was no sign of the enhanced security.

Jonathan Acworth was active before the game button holing supporters. He is having a meeting at Greenwich tomorrow at which a potential investor will be unveiled, but apparently you need to take £20 along for a meal beforehand. According to one report, he is in touch with Darren Pitcher which is just what we want.

The 'two per cent' protest received solid support from the Covered End and I would say from about a quarter to a third of the fans in my part of the East Stand. This makes the point that concern extends beyond two per cent of supporters.

At least I won £50 on Valley Gold which will cover my travel costs and leave something over for a 'celebration' drink.

Player ratings

Some people are now saying that Henderson is no better than Pope, but the first and third goals were the fault of the defence in front of him. He was caught unawares by the second goal, but in some ways it was a lucky goal. One of the problems yesterday was in central defence. Sarr is a liability, but Bauer was below his usual standard. Fox is not good enough and got withdrawn after receiving a yellow card. Holmes-Dennis was required to play in three different positions, but the talented youngster adapted well.

Diarra was another player below his usual standard. Losing Jackson early on was a blow and I think that it affected the confidence of the side for a while. Cousins wasn't that prominent. Gudmundsson criticised himself, but he put himself about and delivered one precision free kick we were unlucky not to score from.

Not only can Makienok not overcome Earth gravity, he doesn't position himself properly when there is an attack. Lookman offered pace and penetration and deservedly got Man of the Match in the lounges. It's not so long ago that the youngster was playing park football. Hopefully, someone gave him a lift home or he had enough money for a minicab as it would be awkward taking the trophy home on the bus.

Vaz Te was written off as a useless signing by many fans, but I thought that our game improved when he came on. Solly played well most of the time. Reza made a real effort, but couldn't turn things around.

Friday 27 November 2015

Worth an early start?

King Philippe of the Belgians (left) looks a little bemused as he is handed a black and white leaflet and told that Roland Duchatelet is not very popular in SE7.

Yesterday evening I was on a panel with staff members from Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion giving presentations to an audience of football fans. The presentations from Villa and West Brom were insightful, and the Baggies representative reminded me that the head of marketing there is a keen Charlton fan as well as running his own non-league club. Inevitably, even in the Midlands, there was a Charlton fan in the audience seeking solace about the fate of the club. I wasn't able to give him much hope of a real change in direction.

There has been some speculation that there will be additional disruptive protests beyond that planned for two minutes. It has been suggested that we might risk a fine or even a points deduction or even that the match could be abandoned. I think that it is a bit far fetched, but I don't like the idea of fans blowing whistles during the game. Once the 'proportionate' protest has been made, the need is to focus on the game in the hope that we might come away with one point or even three.

Katrien Meire has urged fans to 'stand up to negativity', which could be interpreted as clocking the bloke behind me, but I think not.

Given that it will be an especially early start for me tomorrow, I did contemplate not coming at all, but I will make the journey.

Remember that the latest issue of Voice of the Valley will be on sale tomorrow before the game. Just look for the gnomes and elves decked out in smart black and white outfits.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Who let the dogs out?

Photo from Four Four Two

As the club is always looking for ways to enhance the 'matchday experience' (other than on the pitch), they might wish to emulate a Brazilian club that got its players to bring out dogs lacking a home in the hope of finding one. At least it gives a new meaning to crap on the pitch, although apparently this was an accident free event. The stadium appears about as full as Charlton these days.

Continuing on the canine theme, my non-league club has a collie called Jack who turns up to every match wearing his scarf and follows the game intently. Indeed, so keen is he on football, that he comes to youth games to get his fix.

Jack recently did a programme interview and here are a few of his insights:

Do you know that I cannot understand that man running up and down, blowing a whistle, waving his arms about, and arguing with the players? Plus his two sidekicks who don't go on the pitch and wave a flag a lot.

If I could create any law, I would ban half time. It makes me barking mad.

My favourite biscuit is ANY! If I could be someone for a day, it would be Lassie. If I'm feeling down, I chew a bone.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

All quiet at The Valley

No action is expected by Charlton before the window for loan deals closes this evening: Loan window

It may be that the Jason Euell - Karel Fraeye combo will pull us out of the mire and we can then focus on what is needed in the January transfer window. However, I would expect Roland to be parsimonious.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Charlton track Wrexham ace

Charlton are tracking Wrexham ace Dominic Vose, but the goal scoring winger is attracting interest from a number of other Championship clubs including Birmingham City and Wolves: Dominic Vose

However, the Lambeth-born player may be willing to hand in his Welsh phrase book and return to South London.

Elsewhere, it looks as if Brighton might land Dagenham & Redbridge winger Jodi Jones, once the subject of interest from Charlton.

Bromley 16 goals in 22 striker Moses Emmanuel is also 'attracting interest' from Charlton, along with Brentford and Leeds United. I presume this means that we are scouting him. There are only so many young non-league hopefuls we can take on board. Championship defences are more sophisticated than those in the National League.

Chris Powell has been interviewed for the managerial vacancy at QPR, but Super Hoop insiders are thought to favour Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.

Monday 23 November 2015

Rufus leaves Charlton

Wembley play off goal scorer Richard Rufus has left Charlton: 'quit', 'forced out' or 'sacked' depending on which account you read. In any event, he has given up his roles as an Academy coach and an ambassador for the Community Trust after being judged to have master minded a multi-million pound fraud. He may yet face criminal charges: Rufus

It's a sad end to a great footballing career.

Tony Watt: Chwedl Geltaid

Now that Tony Watt's loan deal with Cardiff City has been finalised, Wales Online have provided a portrait in words of the 'Celtic legend': Tony Watt

His loan runs until mid-January, but there have been some suggestions that it may be permanent.

Mixed reactions to the move from Charlton fans here: Good or bad?

Watt has now complained about 'false reasons' being given for his exit from Charlton: Unhappy player

Rickster and Spell It Out join forces

Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt has joined forces with the Spell It Out campaign to organise a 'proportionate protest' in the second minute of the game against Ipswich on Saturday: Protest plan

Katrien Meire claimed that only two per cent of Charlton fans were behind the recent protest, implying that they were a collection of hotheads and perennial moaners like Derek from Dymchurch.

The idea is that fans will hold up black and white posters (which can be downloaded online) in the second minute of the game for 60 seconds backing the two per cent, accompanied by a chant.

This is certainly to be preferred to those hotheads who have advocated throwing things on the pitch which is illegal. I also want us to beat the Tractors, but by having a demonstration early in the game disruption and distraction will be minimised. Saturday gives us the opportunity to go to the top of the Relegation League and would put us within touching distance of the Mid-Table Mediocrity League.

When it comes to tactics, there is no one to beat the Rickster. I still have some concerns about strategy, in terms of what the objectives are. 'We Want Our Charlton Back' is a powerful slogan, but what does it actually mean?

I do not think it would be advantageous for Roland to sell the club. I just don't see credible buyers out there. Wolves have been available for some time, now joined by Bolton Wanderers with all the debt wiped out and a knockdown price. Roland would not want to lose out financially on any sale.

Rick Everitt has been taking the line that Katrien Meire should be replaced as chief executive. I can see the force of this argument. She has lost the trust of many fans and has shown herself to have difficulty in coping with the role. I just don't see Roland removing his representative on Earth.

What I would want to see is two things. First, a strengthening of the squad. It is vital for the future of the club that we avoid relegation to the wasteland of League One. We also want the aspiration to get to the Premiership to be more than 'if we get lucky, we might get a play off place.' An annual relegation struggle or even a solid place in mid-table won't get us anywhere near Target 20,000.

The other thing I would hope for is more regular and structured engagement with the fans who should be regarded with less contempt than has characterised some pronouncements up to now. I know it isn't easy to engage with a group with such a wide range of views and it is all too easy to give a voice to blowhards who have nothing useful to say. However, the club was a model of fan engagement and involvement in the past. Those days can probably never be recaptured, but we need to move back in that direction and away from 'This is how it is.'

Meanwhile, the distinctive smell and noise of hot metal printing presses has been detected in Valley Road, Ramsgate. The latest Voice of the Valley will be on sale before the game against Ipswich.

Harry Lennon rumours

There are unconfirmed rumours circulating that Rangers are interested in signing Harry Lennon (that's Glasgow Rangers, not Berwick Rangers). The source for this story is the Daily Mirror.

This could be the invention of a journalist, or the work of an agent, but it is such an unlikely combination that there may be something in it.

Charlton in pictures 1975-2015

I met Steve Bridge when he used to assist Tom Morris with photographs at The Valley. Anyway, Steve has brought out a book of first rate photos of Charlton. I am looking forward to going through my copy in more detail. The book would make an excellent Christmas present for an Addick. It is also possible to buy prints from the book.

More information at: Steve's website

Sunday 22 November 2015

Watt leaves for Cardiff

Tony Watt is to join Cardiff City on loan: Watt? Watt? Watt?

There have been unconfirmed reports that the Scottish striker is a disruptive influence in the dressing room.

He has also been reluctant to pass to other players when he has the ball, trying to do it all himself.

Nevertheless, the report is something of a shock and reduces Charlton's striker options again. One interpretation is that it is to do with the playing budget and the need to offset Vaz Te's wages.

At least one mystery is solved. Watt was seen with a phrase book at Birmingham on Saturday, but it turned out not to be 'How to speak Brummie' but 'First Steps in Welsh'.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Charlton move out of relegation positions

Charlton moved out of the relegation positions to 20th after a 1-0 victory at promotion chasing Birmingham City today. Johnnie Jackson's 50th goal for the club gave them their first away win of the season. (Matt Wright, who should know, has tweeted that it is only his 49th. Amazingly, the last player to get 50 goals was Carl Leaburn).

The hosts began brightly and within two minutes Jacques Maghoma had tested Henderson after swivelling cleverly inside the area. Toral then flashed an effort over the bar, while Charlton debutant Ademola Lookman hit a shot into the side netting at the other end.

Birmingham cranked up the pressure as the first half wore on, with Demarai Gray and David Davis going close. Henderson then denied Toral with a low save before rushing out to prevent Nicolai Brock-Madsen from giving Birmingham the lead at the break.

Birmingham began the second half as they ended the first, with Gray, Stephen Gleeson and Maghoma all going close. However, Charlton went ahead in the 61st minute when the skipper sent a thumping header beyond Tomasz Kuszczak from Tareiq Holmes-Dennis's cross. It was Lookman who created the breakthrough for Charlton with an astute pass to Holmes-Dennis, whose first-time cross was met by the on-rushing Jackson to head home.

Simon Makienok then headed over the bar from Johann Berg Gudmundsson's cross before Holmes-Dennis's cross-cum-shot was dealt with as Charlton threatened to add a second. Birmingham threw men forward in the dying stages, but Charlton held firm as they recorded back-to-back league victories for the first time this season.

It was very much a case of grinding out a result, but a welcome and generally unexpected three points. It does look as if the team may be regaining their all important confidence.

Friday 20 November 2015

A glimmer of hope against Blues?

When I was travelling back from our win over Sheffield Wednesday, I found myself surrounded by Birmingham fans on the train from Euston celebrating their victory at Fulham. They were surprised that I regularly made the journey to Charlton for home games, but even more surprised that I was not going to St. Andrews tomorrow. However, I have experienced the 'hospitality' of Blues fans in the past.

Birmingham are now in 6th place and hence seen as promotion challengers with the prospect of replacing Aston Villa in the Premier League. I have this sense that they are seen in this role year after year and eventually fade. However, in Gary Rowett, they have an excellent manager, although finances are tight. Last season they finished 10th, but Four Four Two forecasts a sixth place finish.

Birmingham have no new injury worries and welcome back striker Clayton Donaldson who scored for Jamaica against Haiti during the break. Ricardo Vaz Te could make his debut up front for Charlton but is unlikely to start due to a lack of match fitness.

Tony Watt is a major injury doubt, while defender Chris Solly (knock) is touch and go.

Birmingham have lost only one of their last eight league matches against Charlton (W3 D4), so this might look like a match where the result can be read off the table. However, we did win there 1-0 last year and drew the year before.

In their match preview, CAS Trust point out Birmingham's current position is largely a result of their away form: Some hope?

Odds are Birmingham 7/10, Draw 5/2, Charlton 17/4. I really have no idea how this match will go, but think a draw is possible.

With Reading boss Steve Clarke turning down a move to Fulham, Alan Curbishley, who has been taking first team training at Fulham, will presumably be in charge for their outing to MK Dons. Could he yet end up as Fulham manager?

Morrison spills the beans

Birmingham City captain and former Addick Michael Morrison has opened about the circumstances of his departure from Charlton, stressing his respect for the club and its fans: Morrison

It seems like another case of poor treatment of a stalwart player and, what's more, the Blues got him for free.

Back from Belgium

I arrived back from a short trip to Brussels to find a statement by Katrien Meire on the official site: Statement

It's full of good intentions and reassurances, but action will speak louder than words. Target 20,000 will go nowhere if performances on the pitch do not improve and what I am particularly looking for is assurances about further strengthening of the squad in the January transfer window, although I appreciate that is not a good window in which to get value for money.

I don't go to Belgium as often as I used to, but I was reminded of what an odd place it is. It was once described as the Italy of Northern Europe. Three regional governments and a weak federal government. Further inefficiencies on top of that: six police districts in Brussels which do not coordinate well with each other, quite a problem in current circumstances. Moreover, a highly bureaucratised environment. One Belgian told me that what we would regard as routine operations on football pitches require 'the validation of the appropriate authorities.'

Roland has done well to make money in such an environment. One can also understand that he wants to spread his wings. But he, and Katrien, need to understand that they are operating in a different cultural context in SE7.

The Supporters' Trust has now met with Richard Murray and Katrien Meire and the fact that such a meeting has taken place is a step forward of a kind. The response of the Trust might be described as cautiously optimistic: Meeting

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Fraeye keeps his eye on Harriott

'Interim' Charlton supremo Karel Fraeye took the opportunity of the international break to sample the delights of Essex and take a look at Callum Harriott: Callum Harriott

The mercurial winger was out of favour under Guy Luzon, but has made an impression at Colchester, albeit in League One. The terms of the loan deal mean that he cannot return before January.

Harriott has his fans at Charlton, but I am more sceptical. He could show quality, but he was too inconsistent and he seemed to be unsettled at The Valley.

In any case, the agenda may be to secure compensation for him when his contract runs out in the summer.

Igor Vetokele will be out until after Christmas following groin surgery. I'm not sure that the reference to 'getting to the bottom of his fitness problem' is appropriate: Vetokele

The rising tide of protest

Paul Breen discusses increasing cooperation between Charlton and Leeds fans as they respond to the mismanagement of their clubs and the way in which televised live games can be used to make a point: Protest tactics

Sunday 15 November 2015

Spell it out in black and white

Paul Breen discusses the 'Spell it Out In Black and White' campaign, discussing its objectives and talking about the symbolism of the scarf more generally: Spell It Out

As far as I recall, people didn't wear football scarves when I started watching Charlton, but some people did wear rosettes, particularly at big games.

Friday 13 November 2015

Bom Dia, Ricardo Vaz Te

The Addicks have signed former West Ham United striker Ricardo Vaz Te on a free transfer. The 29-year-old, who spent three years playing for the Hammers, has been searching for a club since leaving Turkish outfit Akhisar Belediyespor in July.

Vaz Te, who came through Bolton's youth system, joined the Hammers from Barnsley in January 2012, and went on to help them return to the Barclays Premier League, scoring the winning goal for Sam Allardyce's side in the play-off final at Wembley.

Vaz Te, who also had a spell in the Scottish top flight with Hibernian, made his final appearance for West Ham in November 2014, before his contract was cancelled by mutual consent in January.

The forward, who has been capped at Under-23 level for Portugal, has put pen to paper on a contract that will run until the end of the season. Vaz Te could make his debut for the Addicks against Birmingham City at St Andrews after the international break.

As one might expect, there has been a negative reaction from some Addicks who have argued that he is past his best, pointing out that he trained with Rotherham but they didn't sign him. Questions have also been raised about his fitness, injury proneness and mentality. But we have all been calling for experienced players who are not Belgian.

The following exchange took place at London Bridge this morning, suggesting a certain optimism on the part of Vaz Te:

Vaz Te: Queria uma passagem para Charlton.

Empregado: Ida e volta?

Vaz Te: Nao, somente ida, por favour.

Charlton in battle for Ebbsfleet ace

Charlton are locked in a battle with Spurs and Stoke City for the signature of 17-year old Ebbsfleet United winger Shilow Tracey: Big signing?

West Ham, Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading are also said to be interested, so I wouldn't give much hope for our chances.

We have quite a few talented young players already. What I would like to see in the transfer window is some fringe Premiership or experienced Championship players come in, on loan if necessary.

Palace get big injection of American cash

Crystal Palace have agreed in principle a deal with American investors to take a 36 per cent stake in the club. The lead investor is Josh Harris, owner of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers. Talks have been taking place for some time, but stalled earlier in the year: Palace investment

The funds will be used to replace the contraption that passes for a main stand at Selhurst Park and also used to improve the Arthur Wait stand. Palace are confident that the investment will allow them to permanently consolidate their position as the leading South London club.

It has to be admitted that the fans who took Palace out of administration five years ago have done a good job in contrast to recent owners at Charlton.

Talking of Palace, here is an essay on the departure of Iain Dowie: Dowie departure

Thursday 12 November 2015

Ramsgate line on Tuesday's meeting

The more I hear from people about the video of Tuesday's meeting, the less I want to spend valuable time watching it. However, Rick Everitt has watched it and does not mince his words: The Ramsgate line

The Rickster says: 'The stark truth is that almost two years on from the takeover, the club is spending more and performing worse, one and off the pitch. It's operating loss has increased. There are complaints from all directions above customer service, while management responds with initiatives - like Saturday’s house music DJ in the north stand bar - that appear to have been taken at random from a junior staff suggestion box.'

Here is a sample comment by a fan: 'The only thing the strategy will do is take us into league one. We need some decent players now, not in three years time and then sell them after 20 odd games to balance the books. Not one person in the room really took issue with the "strategy". Fans rambled on about terms like disenchantment which really wasn't substantiated by why. Just that they felt not included. Lots of bitter supporters with their noses put out of joint because they were no longer "faces" and no longer feel wanted by the club.'

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.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Former owners sued over Peninsula move for club

The former owners of Charlton are being sued over the failure to secure a new home on the Greenwich Peninsula for the club before it was sold

City AM reports: 'The former owners of Charlton Athletic have been sued over a failed promise to arrange a deal for the construction of a new stadium with an adjoining residential and commercial development on Greenwich Peninsula. LA-based property developer Darius Khakshouri is suing Tony Jimenez and Kevin Cash, who co-owned Charlton from 2011 to 2013, after providing the pair a £1.8m to help ease the club's cash flow issues in September 2013 as they searched for a buyer.

Khakshouri claims he was talked into the deal on the condition that Charlton would not be sold without a deal being in place to set the club up in a new stadium in the prestigious Greenwich Peninsula area near the O2 Arena. Yet when Charlton were sold to current owner Roland Duchatelet in January 2014, no deal such deal was in place.

A long time friend and business associate of Jimenez and Cash, Khakshouri says he was told he would share in the profits of a land deal and was therefore convinced to reduce his stake in an LA property development from 55 to 25 per cent in order to raise the money for the loan. Although the loan was repaid, Khakshouri will argue that it subsequently became apparent that there had never been any intention of securing the land deal prior to the sale.

Ian Baker, a partner at PGB Gitlin Baker Solicitors who are representing Khakshouri, said: "Mr Khakshouri trusted his friends Mr Jimenez and Mr Cash and lent them money in good faith and relying on their promises. "Mr Khakshouri feels that he not only suffered the loss of over £1m from reducing his stake in a lucrative investment to provide finance for Mr Jimenez and Mr Cash's project - but was also hurt at the betrayal of two individuals he considered long-standing friends."

The trio had previously worked together on the development of Les Bordes luxury golf resort in the Loire Valley in France.

Charlton were in desperate need of funding at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, when the club began the Championship campaign with 16 players in the last year of their contract.'

This last point is significant as it does provide evidence that Charlton were in dire financial straits, as many of us knew to be the case, before the Belgian takeover.

Little reassurance

If last night's meeting between Katrien Meire and Richard Murray was supposed to reassure fans and rebuild bridges with them, it doesn't seem to have served that purpose: Fan fury. Of course, the breakdown of trust on both sides has been so extensive that rebuilding it was not going to be easy, at least not without some candid admission of past mistakes and a road map for the future.

Katrien Meire seems to have been particularly exercised by last Saturday's protest by fans which she deemed unacceptable and she asked other fans to stand up to the 'negative' ones. Her views are given at great length here: Not the way do things Some have interpreted this as a 'divide and rule' strategy.

Of course, everyone will have their own interpretation of what was said and I am yet to watch the video of the meeting.

The video of the meeting is not yet available, but I have watched Katrien Meire's strategy presentation. In many ways this was a typical business style presentation, complete with an initial failure of the PowerPoint system to work.

The objectives of moving towards 20,000 attendances and greater fan engagement are laudable, but how are they to be achieved? In the context of fan engagement, the dreaded fan sofa was mentioned when I had hoped it was on its way to the tip.

The best enhancement to my 'matchday experience' would be a better win ratio. The playing budget has apparently gone up by 40 per cent, but there hasn't been a comparable improvement in outcomes. This suggests that some players have not been well chosen or are over paid.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Curbs puts his hat in the ring

Alan Curbishley has declared his interest in the manager's job at Fulham: Curbs sets out his stall

A look at Lookman

Ademola Lookman has had a meteoric rise into the Charlton first team. Steve from Petts Wood told me on Saturday that somewhere on the internet there is a copy of a letter from him asking Football League clubs for a trial, but I haven't been able to find it. (Thanks to everyone who has now provided this information, see comments.

He joined Charlton's academy in 2014 after signing from Waterloo FC a youth football club based in the London Borough of Lambeth. His impressive goal scoring record for Charlton's U18 and U21 side led to him making his first team debut for the Addicks at MK Dons.

In this clip he can be seen scoring a screamer for the U18s: Lookman goal

Monday 9 November 2015

The Army Game

Simon Makienok has revealed that a pre-match pep talk by a soldier did wonders for Charlton's performance on Saturday: Military inspiration

He also comments that he was not aware of fan protests before the game. He could hear the noise being made by the fans outside the West Stand as the team was warming up, but thought it was the fans urging the team on.

London as a football city

The latest posting from the excellent two unfortunates blog looks at London as a football city: London

Charlton aren't specifically mentioned. Quite rightly, the author focuses on the driving forces affecting football as a whole in London, including its status as a city region and a global city. Some of this is relevant context to our current plight.

When my new Anglo-French boss moved to London, he looked for a football club to support. His sister lived in Chelsea, but he decided that they were too expensive, so he went for nearby Fulham. Charlton didn't even come up on his radar because it was 'too far out' from the cosmopolitan centre.

I was inspired to get down from the bookshelves a book by one of my favourite authors, Charlton fan Charlie Connelly (he was also at university with one of my children). Called London Fields, it contains a chapter on 'The Supporters' Club: Peter Varney and the Rise of Charlton Athletic.' How ironic that title seems now when our chief executive takes photos of protesting supporters from the lounges. (There is also a chapter on Gary Nelson and one about Welling United).

It is a good read (the description of the two man Wembley away firm is hilarious). There is a copy on Amazon at £4.54 plus postage: London Fields

West London tussle over Hasselbaink

Fulham and QPR are reported to be in competition to secure the services of Burton Albion manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. He was linked with a possible move to Charlton, but a search for a long lost Belgian grandmother yielded no results.

Over at Fulham, The Guardian is reporting that Alan Curbishley may take interim charge after Kit Symons was sacked for miring the club in mid-table mediocrity. Curbs was known as 'the man in the stands' in his previous spell at Fulham, but has regularly joined Symons in the dugout.

I will have to get used to hearing more about Fulham. When I was staying in France, the son of my friend's wife was on his way to The Valley for the Charlton v. Fulham clash. With my current contract running out in a week or so, he has taken pity on me and offered me a role in his firm.

There has been some talk over the weekend of the appointment of a British manager at The Valley being imminent, but I can find no credible source to support these rumours.

Sunday 8 November 2015

Charlton and Leeds compared

A number of clubs in England are experiencing tensions between their fans and their owners at the moment, not least Blackpool. Charlton and Leeds are the two Championship clubs most prominently in this category.

Former Southampton chairman Nicola Cortese is considering a bid for Leeds. Our sister site, the Political Economy of Football, discusses why he might consider buying Leeds but not Charlton: Leeds and Charlton compared

Saturday 7 November 2015

Jason Euell's Red Army

That was the chant of the Covered End as Charlton beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 at The Valley today. It ended the goal drought, but the Addicks remain in the relegation zone. Euell seemed to be playing a big part in managing the match.

Euell said on Facebook, 'The boys put in a great shift and the atmosphere was quality.'

Charlton started brightly, but we initially feared that it was a repeat of the match against Brentford, but they maintained a high standard of play throughout. Wednesday did not press us as much as Brentford and perhaps they thought they just had to turn up to collect the three points.

When captain Jackson was inexplicably left unmarked as Johann Berg Gudmundsson took a corner, he timed his run from the edge of the box perfectly to thump home the opener.

The Addicks continued to attack and on the stroke of half-time Makienok finished off a brilliant passage of play that saw El-Hadji Ba and Ghoochannejhad combine well on the left before the striker played the ball to Gudmundsson, who duly set up the Dane to score.

Midfielder Gudmundsson was once again instrumental in Charlton's third goal, cutting the visiting defence apart with a chip to Fox, who then set up Ghoochannejhad for a simple tap-in.

Player ratings

Henderson wasn't at fault for the goal, but otherwise wasn't tested much by the Owls. Bauer was competent and reliable as usual. Sarr put in a decent shift, although arguably was at fault for the goal. I was concerned when Solly went off injured, but Holmes-Dennis was a more than adequate replacement and got involved to good effect right away. Fox provided the assist for the goal and did show some quality at times, but I still think he is one of the weakest links in the team. He does look shell shocked at times.

Diarra was magnificent and had a claim to be man of the match. Jackson paired well with him and took his goal well. Ba was a transformed player, he had his best match for us so far and got strong applause when he was substituted. After an injury scare, Gudmundsson was back to his best.

Makienok was fully involved throughout, although he did miss one good chance for a centre forward's goal in the second half. Reza was here, there and everywhere, chasing the ball and got a standing ovation when he was taken off.

It was my first look at Lookman and he is clearly a promising young talent. Moussa didn't make a big impact.

Where do we go from here?

A thoughtful and in depth analysis of the state of the club from Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt: The mess we are in

A central suggestion that Rick makes is that Katrien Meire should be replaced as chief executive. He argues that she is out of her depth in the job and has resorted to gimmicks while failing to communicate with supporters. Her replacement would be a step towards rebuilding trust with supporters.

I don't see Roland replacing her as his representative on Earth as that would be an admission of failure and I don't think that Roland does failure. In an ideal world, Peter Varney would be lured back from Gravesend to resume his old role. Rick could be his No.2: 'Reg' driving the bus and Rick as conductor.

'Roland Out' is an attractive slogan but it is never made clear who is going to come in. There are plenty of clubs on the market at the moment who have not found buyers, including Wolves who in many ways are a more attractive proposition.

In an ideal world Roland would undergo a Ryanair type conversion and realise that it is not a sensible strategy to hold your customers in contempt. But I don't hold out much hope.

Meanwhile I hope that today's demonstration will be kept safe and peaceful.

Friday 6 November 2015

More injury woe for Addicks

Charlton will be without midfield pair Jordan Cousins and Johann Berg Gudmundsson for tomorrow's clash with in form Sheffield Wednesday after they suffered injuries against MK Dons on Tuesday. Ahmed Kashi (heel), Igor Vetokele (groin) and Cristian Ceballos (fibula) remain on the sidelines. Kashi is a real loss in my view as he added real creativity and skill to the team.

Wednesday are still living in the glow of their 3-0 victory over Arsenal. Their 1-0 win over Forest was more laboured, but they still have the quality to change a game, in particular by changing its pace. 0-0 against promotion chasing Brighton was a respectable result.

The Owls are 3rd in the form table and the Addicks are, needless to say, bottom. In the real table Wednesday are 8th, with the play off places in sight.

The CAS Trust preview says that Charlton are second only to Blackpool as the laughing stock of the Football League. They ask, do Wednesday just have to turn up tomorrow?: Gloomy outlook. I'm starting to wonder if I should turn up.

Our last four home games against Wednesday resulted in three draws and one defeat. It is difficult to see us getting even a draw tomorrow. Odds are: Charlton 27/10, Draw 12/5, Sheffield Wed 23/20.

Wallowing in past glories

Not everything was glorious in the past as this example of poor design from a 1978 programme shows

Katrien Meire has said that we mustn't wallow in the past glories of the club, but to me they are very real and a welcome distraction from present woes. It was therefore a great pleasure to make my first visit to the Charlton Athletic museum last night. There is already an excellent display and more donations are coming in all the time (I took the framed set of historic items we received when we sponsored the match against Bradford City in 2000). The museum does need more money for display cases and I am taking out membership.

A chance to tour the museum was followed by two talks. The first provided video and audio of what was then believed to be the last match at The Valley. There was a lot of hoof and hope in the game but we did beat Stoke 2-0. The second, by Steve Sutherland, looked at the Crystal Palace years and had many fascinating anecdotes about the personalities of that era. Clubcall was then the main way of communicating with fans and in order to provide material in the summer months it ran an interview with the laundry lady who discussed her favourite detergent!

Steve's basic theme was that the Selhurst Park years tended to be air brushed out of our history. However, if people hadn't kept things going through that dark period, there wouldn't have been a club to come back to The Valley.

He struck a chord when he said that his most important relationship with is father was football. My life diverged sharply from what my father experienced, and I am sure that I was a puzzle to him, but we continued to share a love of football and Charlton in particular.

Ben Hayes of the museum is featured in an article in the latest Four Four Two. He stumbled across a neglected cinema newsreel clip entitled Charlton Match Filmed to Aid Training. Numerous cameras were set up around The Valley for a game against Burnley in 1947. The players then went to a local cinema to watch the game. It was probably the first time they had seen themselves play. There's a great posed clip of Jimmy Seed looking over the stills, none of which the supporters ever got to see. 'It must have been used as a coaching tool - and a PR gimmick,' said Hayes.

You can se the film here (don't be put off by the fact that it starts with a clip of Princess Elizabeth and Phil the Greek: Movietone film Charlton

Apparently, Jimmy Seed's grandson is about to retire and may address a future meeting at the museum. How time flies.

BTW, don't try to visit the museum today as the lift is broken.

Coonor McAleny returns

Conor McAleny has had his loan cut short and he has returned to Everton: McAleny

This does make the squad even thinner, but I never thought that he was a game changer.

Sad news about Rufus

At a bleak time for the club, sad news about one our legends, Richard Rufus. My late wife was his shirt sponsor for many years. he was a serious student of theology, but clearly out of his depth in financial matters, particularly a time when the financial crisis hit.

Former Premier League defender Richard Rufus operated an "appalling" criminal fraud that robbed innocent victims of almost £9m, a judge has ruled. The Charlton Athletic fans' favourite was branded a "rogue" and a "fraudster" by Judge Clive Jones who found him guilty of fraudulently collecting £16m from more than 100 investors and spending £3.4m for his own benefit.

Rufus did not appear at the High Court trial where he was hit with a maximum 15-year bankruptcy restriction, preventing him from becoming the director or manager of a limited liability company during the period. He was found to have collected money for currency exchange trading between May 2007 and February 2011 and promised a five per cent monthly yield - yet just £7.4m of the £16m was repaid.

His victims included Kingsway International Christian Centre in Walthamstow, where he was once a minister, which lost around £5m. An England under-21 international, Lewisham-born Rufus was voted the club's best-ever defender in 2005 and was inducted into the club's hall of fame in 2013. In the same year he was declared bankrupt following the failed investment scheme.

Thursday 5 November 2015

CAS Trust questions protest disruption

CAS Trust has issued a statement in response to the club's rather tawdry and last minute decision to create a Family Activity Zone in the West Stand car park on Saturday where some supporters are planning to protest against the current regime at the club: Peaceful protest

Roland has a low opinion of football fans which the protest may simply confirm, although clearly supporters want to show how they feel. The most ingenious idea has come from the Chicago Addick which is to use the Belgian media to embarrass Roland.

There is quite a lot of interest in his activities there, although surprisingly a special Financial Times supplement on Wallonia earlier this week failed to mention him.

Mascot matters

The naffest mascot yet: guess what it is - answer below

A joker was suggesting on the boards yesterday that the real problem at Charlton was that we had sacked mascots Floyd and Harvey.

The sort of vanilla mascots we have at Charlton are really for young children. The sight of the 'valiant knight' with his pathetic sword, which would not scare any lino, dancing behind the flag bearers at the last match did sum up the state we are in. I should add that I have a lot of respect for the individuals who fill these awkward and hot costumes, having failed in my attempt to become 'Mr Whiskas' for the local cats protection branch.

If you want a red blooded mascot, there is no better example than Cyril the Swan or Cyril the Pyscho as he is sometimes referred to. At Millwall in 2001 he knocked the head off Zampa the Lion, drop kicking it into the stands and telling his rival 'Don't **** with the Swans.

He served a two match suspension for a touchline scuffle with Norwich backroom staff in 1999 and received a £1,000 fine for a solo pitch invasion that year for which the referee showed the red card. He attended the Welsh FA hearing in full costume, all nine foot of it.

The answer to the quiz above is it's not a toilet roll holder or an exhaust pipe, but a LED desk lamp!

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Rickster gives it large

A typically robust and well-written piece from Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt on Roland Duchatelet, concluding that he needs to be defeated by events or unrest: A club being ruined

The Rickster has now returned from his visit to the United States where he is said to have been working on a new biography of Elvis Presley which will reveal that he was an Addick [shome mishtake shurely, ed - don't you mean addict?

Chris Powell sacked

Chris Powell has been sacked as Huddersfield manager after 14 months in charge. Huddersfield have won just three games in the last fifteen. However, the decision was not just about results. There have also been disagreements with the board about transfer policy: Chris Powell

Powell is unlikely to return to The Valley after the way he was treated by the current regime, nor would they want him. I'm not sure that he would be the answer, although clearly he would be a great improvement on Karel Fraeye, but then a lot of people would.

Reza: everyone is down

Everyone is down in the Charlton dressing room and the Iranian international reckons that he is facing the toughest challenge of his career: Despondency

Football is very much a confidence game and it is difficult to see the Addicks getting anything against an on form Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

I have missed Charlton games for lots of reasons, mostly work commitments. However, I have never failed to go when I was able to go. I have serious doubts about making a five hour round trip on Saturday, but I expect I will.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Progress of a kind?

Charlton ended their run of 3-0 defeats with a 1-0 defeat at MK Dons tonight. The Addicks have now failed to score since October 4th.

Charlton had the first chance of the game as Jordan Cousins’ 25-yard drive was met with a fingertip save from a diving David Martin. However, Bowditch put the home side ahead on 29 minutes. Patrick Bauer had a late header blocked.

At least we had three shots on target, but we picked up five yellow cards. Possession was 56-44 in favour of the home side.

Interim coach Karel Fraeye said after the game, 'I'm concerned with the lack of chances we created, but the Dons only created their chances after we took a lot of risks and we gave them a lot of space.'

Going down with the Franchisees?

It's a real six pointer at the cavernous stadium mk tonight as Charlton take on MK Dons. Some Addicks might feel that a win would strengthen the hand of Karel Fraeye in his search for a permanent posting at The Valley (in so far as any Charlton manager is now permanent), but we need the points in our survival struggle. The team also badly needs a confidence boost.

Four Four Two had what they described as the 21st century Millwall finishing 24th this season. Actually, they are the kings of blandness in terms of their support and much the same might be said of Milton Keynes itself. French rugby fans were appalled by the resigned acceptance by the inhabitants of its sameness when they were there recently.

The Franchisees are currently 20th in the table and the same position in the form table. With Hull fans turning out in force, they got over 15,000 to Saturday's game. Manager Karl Robinson put the 0-2 defeat of the home side down to one of the worst officiating displays the fans had ever seen, but reports suggested that the Franchisees lacked creativity in the final third. Sounds familiar. Does this mean a 0-0? Probably not. Either Simon Church or Diego Poyet will score against us.

Odds are: MK Dons 23/20, Draw 9/4, Charlton 21/10.

Monday 2 November 2015

Carneiro story surfaces again

This has been going the rounds for a while, but the Sub-Standard is carrying a story that Charlton will offer Eva Carneiro a role on the medical team at Charlton once her dispute with Chelsea is settled: Eva Carneiro

It could take a while to settle her constructive dismissal case against Chelsea. It would not be in the interests of Chelsea to have the whole matter aired in court, but she has rejected the offers made so far. An acceptable offer might not be made until the hearing is about to take place and getting these matters before a tribunal takes months.

While she might find Charlton a more congenial environment in the sense that she would be treated with respect, I would have thought that she would be made better offers, particularly outside the UK.

A glimmer of hope?

Up to now there has been little sign of the club being willing to engage with the CAS Trust in a serious dialogue on strategic issues. However, the Trust leadership thinks there is now a glimmer of hope: How to cope with disarray?

Many people are critical of CAS Trust, but it is the only representative structure we really have for fans. Admittedly, some fans would not want any kind of representative structure, while others would want one more committed to direct action.

The Trust faces a real dilemma. Should it attempt to pursue constructive dialogue with Roland's representative on Earth? Or should it back various forms of protest? Of course, it's not entirely an 'either or' choice. However, the worst outcome would be various forms of uncoordinated protest which made very little impact. I am also sceptical about how far Roland, as an elitist visionary, is susceptible to the views of the lower orders.

However, he is a businessman and presumably he wants his project at Charlton to succeed, although one of the difficulties we face is uncertainty about what that project really is, or whether it takes enough account of local conditions.

The Sunday Times magazine had an interesting article about London yesterday in which it said that since the 1980s, 'the capital's centre of gravity has been shifting ever eastwards' and it names Woolwich as a 'go to' location when for years it was a 'get away from' place. Hong Kong-born Sammy Lee is spending £5bn on the Greenwich peninsula. What about buying a nearby football club?

There is a strategic opportunity here. As it is, the incomers interested in football are likely to forsake the unfashionable club nearby for one of the glamorous Central London teams, or perhaps they will be tempted by a short trip on the Jubilee Line to West Ham from next season? However, it would not be impossible for Charlton to take at least a slice of this growth, but the offer has to be tempting, i.e., a club with ambitions to push for the Premiership. And time is running out.

VOTV editor flees to States

Addicks have been shocked to learn from social media that Voice of the Valley editor Rick Everitt has fled to the United States in the face of Charlton's collapse - and become an ice hockey fan!

The first indication of his disappearance came when a picture was posted on Twitter of him in front of the White House, accompanied by the suggestion that he had more influential friends than top Charlton fan Jonathan Acworth.

Then at the weekend it was revealed that he was going to a college ice hockey game and found this more appealing than going away with Charlton. It is not known whether they lost 3-0.

Callers at the VOTV workshop in Valley Road, Ramsgate found it shuttered. A surly goblin guarding the premises replied to all enquiries with a phrase of four letters and three letters.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Football League Paper criticises Roland

This morning's Football League Paper has a major article by Chris Dunlavy criticising Roland Duchatelet headed 'Forget fairy tales, Roland, and get real.' It is accompanied by a not very flattering cartoon of the Belgian.

The article compares Roland with Massimo Cellino for Leeds, not company I would care to be in. To be fair, Roland has never been convicted of evading taxes.

The article states, 'the Belgian thought he could rock up, sign a few cheap foreigners, and stroll straight into the top flight [Actually, I think that his motivations and aims were more complex, but still flawed]. But like the unhinged Italian, he has discovered that the Championship deals savagely with those who underestimate it.'

Dunlavy poses the question, 'Does Duchatelet even know what he is trying to do? Fundamentally, his aims are laudable. Build an infrastructure, bring the kids through, minimise financial losses. A guy worth £500m knows how to run a company and the fact that he rescued Charlton from the brink of ruin should not be forgotten. But none of that means much when the core of your business - the team - is an unstable ragbag outfit.'

Roland's claims to have spent £8m on players since arriving are put under the microscope and argues that 'Players have been brought on for their youth and sell-on value rather than their suitability to English football, Youngsters promoted too soon in the hope of making a quick buck.'

Dunlavy quotes extensively from an earlier interview with Yann Kermorgant and concludes, 'The manager has never been the problem. The problem is an owner who badly misjudged the strength of English football.

I have no connection with the FLP, but I do recommend it as a good value Sunday read.