Sunday 31 July 2016

A keeper found at last?

Don't forget that in these grim times at The Valley, all your news is now on our Third Division Diary: Reports of signings bring little cheer

Sunday 24 July 2016

Lost in translation

Are you missing out on the stories on Addick's Third Division Diary as the club prepares for the season without a senior goalkeeper? Russell Slade is in despair and we provide the real version of his letter to those renewing their season tickets: Russell Slade

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Who is Charlton's new assistant manager?

Jonathan Acworth has had two phone calls with Russell Slade recently and has been hopeful of moving either into the dugout or replacing Katrien Meire as chief executive. Have Acworth's dreams come true? Read about the identity of the new assistant manager at Addick's Third Division Diary: Acworth overlooked shock

The club's article also reveals that Plymouth is now part of Cornwall which will be a real shock to Devonians. I suspect that the longer term plan is to make it part of Belgium.

You can also read about the return of Tony Watt to his native heath with the Jam Tarts.

Monday 18 July 2016

Big Dave goes

The latest casualty at The Valley is 'Big' Dave Lockwood who has been match day announcer for 24 years. He has resigned and has joined the protests against the regime: Big Dave

Charlton 'through and through' is a much used cliché, but it certainly applies to Big Dave. He once gave me a collection of Charlton videos when his sister emigrated.

Big Dave's full statement is here: Sadly time to go

Roland, I thank yew

The transitional period when posts were being made both here and on Addick's Third Division Diary has come to an end and all future posts will be made on the League One site in recognition of our diminished status. Thank you, Roland and Katrien, for screwing up the club.

The signs that they are learning are still limited, notwithstanding the appointment of an English manager and a few new signings, offset by quality exits. Nick Pope is having his medical at Burnley today. I think he would have been good enough for League One, instead he will have to sit on a cold bench at Turf Moor.

I have renewed my season ticket, because I know that if I didn't have a season ticket, I would stop going. Five hours travelling is quite a bit, even though I can read, sleep and use my tablet. All those around me have renewed. Whether I would renew after another season, I don't know.

However, I do think that the club needs to kept going so that there is something left for a new owner to build on. I don't buy into conspiracy theories that Roland wants to run down the club to redevelop The Valley. It would be a very expensive, perhaps impossible, site to develop.

The considerable reputational damage inflicted on Roland by the CARD campaign has not shifted this obdurate eccentric. Sometimes it feels like we are the victims of a failed social experiment.

What can we expect of the season ahead? Those who like wallowing in gloom and doom, and there are always plenty of those at Charlton (or any club), think that we will be relegated to League Two, and then to the Conference. In that case, given its infrastucture, the club would no longer be viable and would have to be closed in its present form.

Some optimists think the play offs might be possible. My hunch is that we will turn out to be a solid, mid-table League One club, punching below what should be our weight.

Older readers will know that the 'I thank yew' (pronounced ay-thang-yew) in the headline refers to the comedian Arthur Askey.

Saturday 16 July 2016

Farewell, then, Nick Pope

Burnley have improved their offer for Nick Pope to around £1m and a deal is close to being finalised: Nick Pope

It has been good to see Pope to develop from a non-league player to one capable of performing at Championship level and I am sorry to see him go. The Chicago Addick is more critical: Not up to it

Stephen Henderson may also be on his way out, with Nottingham Forest interested: Henderson

The Addicks will need to find a new first choice keeper. Who was that guy the Belgians brought over? Ah, yes, Thuram-Ullen, the maestro of punching the ball.

Friday 15 July 2016

It's not so grim 'oop north

With the president of the NFU at the Great Yorkshire Show

Having spent a day this week at the Great Yorkshire Show, I can verify that. More to the point, the latest Swiss Ramble blog takes an in depth look at Huddersfield Town which in normal circumstances we might think of as a comparator. All the tables and graphs include data on Charlton: Huddersfield Town

Of course, their chairman has pumped in £45m, admittedly to no great effect.

New triumph for daft ideas department

One of Katrien Meire's innovations at The Valley has been to create a Daft Ideas Department. Its role is to think up ideas that will upset the fans even more than they are upset with the regime already.

This time it has excelled itself. Fans will have to pay an extra £2.50 to buy tickets at the ticket office rather than online. Even worse, prices will go up by £3 in the two hours before kick off: Fan friendly

I suppose the idea behind that is to encourage more fans to buy season tickets, given that sales have been poor (3,500 is one figure that I have heard). However, many fans don't want to buy season tickets under the current regime. In any case, there is always some 'walk up' traffic. There are people who just go to a few games a year and might decide, on the spur of the moment, 'I've got nothing on this afternoon. I'll go to The Valley and be bored there instead.'

It's not clear how this affects away tickets, but I would have thought that at many League One grounds you could turn up on the day and hand over some readies at the gate. Indeed, I believe that at Fleetwood Town you get a free cod throw in. No good for Charlton fans: we like haddocks.

The views of the Supporters' Trust on this development can be found here: Insulting

Thursday 14 July 2016

Rickster backs critique of regime

This is hardly a surprising headline: the real shock would be 'Rick Everitt decides regime is a good thing after all.' However, there are some signs that some fans are getting weary of the protests against the current regime, or at least the disruptive ones. Hence, from his den on the Isle of Thanet, the Rickster has selected a post on Charlton Life by 'Grapevine' which he thinks sets out the case against Roland and Katrien rather well. It's rather long, so I have edited it a little.

Personally, although I think that it is well written and makes some good points, it overdoes the doom and gloom. One cynic commented, 'Isn't this just a long way of saying you lose your best players when you get relegated and the owners are just in it for the long term belief they can make some cash. Plus the team is still a bit rubbish.'

Anyway, the post follows.

Can we please stop this endless comparison of the current regime to those of 30, 40, 50 yrs ago? The money for the last two decades in the game driven by television and particularly Sky has transformed the entire industry landscape. It is akin to the comparative pursuit of warfare over the same period while ignoring the technological advances in armaments.

The days of the local builder, baker, butcher and timber merchants dipping their hands in their pockets each and every season have long passed into history. If you do not recognise the distinction then it is not surprising you do not recognise the fundamental flaw in the argument so many seem so desperate to hang on to. Positioning any regime against what you see as the worst regimes is not an endorsement. It is the very definition of "damning with faint praise". The overriding theme through all of them, no matter their failings, was their intent to produce a first team able to compete successfully at the highest possible level. This regime possesses no such aspiration.

The focus of this regime via its Belgian Corporate vehicle as evidenced by its policies, actions and decisions over 31 months is to trade profitably from player acquisition, development and sales. Nothing more, nothing less. Anecdotal evidence from the € 20mn pulled out of Standard Liege which probably funded our purchase and the recent sale of the young Belgian striker by Marseille to Chelsea earning/ repaying Staprix circa £10mn testify to this approach. Sadly so badly have they misunderstood their UK venture they consistently ignored the market needs and opportunities increasing our debt to nearer £45mn whilst now losing circa £5mn p.a. revenue in getting the club relegated to a level at which the current "Chairman" has long stated the club is not sustainable.

The consequence of these "club failures" is any "profit" which may finally accrue to the club on player turnaround (Gudmundsson will be the first) will for the foreseeable future merely reduce the debt including the ever accruing interest to Staprix created by an appalling performance overseen by the common key shareholder. The club has become no more than a vehicle for the Staprix P&L. The entire ambition and consequent strategy is determined by a financial business model which at best pays mere lip service to the underlying principle of producing team striving for sporting excellence. It is a recipe for stagnation and decline.

I understand and commiserate with the regular churn about the decades of supporting your club but regrettably the fundamentals of the club you supported for all of those years no longer exist. It is your club in name only no matter how fervently you may wish it otherwise. It is almost uniquely (Oyston and Blackpool seem to be on the same journey) a fundamental betrayal of the national game.

The current key shareholder is entirely ambivalent to the success of the first team. That is not an accusation you could levy at Gliksten, Hulyer, the Sunleys, the multiple iterations of Murray, the S&J duo all of whom sought first team success within their financial capacity. Each administration regularly sold players for financial survival but at the same time did their best to support the manager of the day by reinvesting in the first team squad.

It matters not whether you are at Level 1 or Level 8 of the football pyramid that has to be the minimum expectation of the players, coaches, managers and supporters of any professional team organisation. I repeat it is not the case today. So no, in sporting terms the club has not been in a worse state. I could argue with an unprecedented level of debt it has never been in a worse financial position either.

For those wishing to embrace the "new approach" of an English manager and the arrival of the first 3 English senior professionals direct from other English senior clubs the club, now into its 2nd week of the preseason, is still grossly under prepared for the season ahead. Our season starts just 4 Saturdays away. How many senior operating positions across the business remain unfilled? Preparation is key to building the foundations of a successful season.

Even if I concede there is an intent to change, and it is at this stage a huge assumption the manager will be properly supported in structuring an appropriate first team squad, there is little evidence to suggest the necessary competence to successfully deliver such change exists. I do not suggest managing a relegation is easy. It isn't but in preparation for a new season it is important you generate and sustain a new momentum. An experienced, focused CEO will have recognised the need to make things happen to drive such change, to create momentum. I regret there is little indication our corporate ownership even recognises such requirement let alone has the competence to deliver.

At the time of writing we have circa 42 professionals under contract of which 21 have minimal if any League experience. Of the other 18 outfield players Bauer, Diarra, Lennon, and Kashi are not match fit.

Of the remaining players; - Gudmundsson and Bergdich will certainly be enjoying pastures. - Cousins, Texeira and probably Lookman are on the trading block - Solly and Jackson carry repeating injury profiles

So within 4 weeks we face having to build on the core of Johnson, Fox, Ba, Holmes, Novak, Ajose, Watt of whom 3 have only been at the club for a matter of days. The squad despite its change in resourcing today carries a very great many of the pitfalls we have seen over the past 2 close seasons. The core of the squad in defence and in midfield looks as fragile as ever. If such a framework represents to you a serious and competent attempt by the executive of the club to support Mr Slade in his endeavours to achieve success on the field on behalf of all of us then I seriously beg to differ.

The club is still to even appoint an assistant for Slade and a replacement Doctor. I fully hope those who have chosen to invest in season tickets for the coming season enjoy the experience but at present it remains a huge leap of faith there has been any material change in the underlying management of the club. There is a very great deal to be done.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Relegation was last straw for Cousins

Jordan Cousins admitted that relegation was the last straw in his decision to leave the club and join the Super Hoops: Cousins

The fee of £1.5m has been seen as on the low side by some fans, although apparently £900,000 was refused for Nick Pope.

Monday 11 July 2016

Slade looks the part

Ramsgate resident but one time Welling mayor Rick Everitt gives his verdict on the 4-1 win for Charlton at Park View Road which included a Nicky Ajose hat trick. It is not a case of shades of Joe Pigott, suggests the Rickster: Match report

The VOTV editor reckons that there are still a number of questions about Slade's squad, but thinks that the manager looks the part.

New mood music at Sparrows Lane

Johnnie Jackson reckons that there is new mood music at Sparrows Lane following the appointment of Russell Slade and three new signings: Morale boost

Of course, he's not going to say that everyone is down in the dumps, but I think his statement is genuine.

Sunday 10 July 2016

Diarra has hairline fracture

Alou Diarra pulled up in the warm up at Park View Road yesterday and has a hairline fracture. Just the news we needed: Diarra

Three central midfielders needed?

This article suggests that Charlton need three new central midfielders: Wish list

No doubt, but it isn't Christmas yet.

Saturday 9 July 2016

Valete, Joe Pigott

Joe Pigott has been signed by Cambridge United on a one year deal following his release by Charlton: Pigott

In all honesty, he has probably found his level. Thanks for all you tried to do.

Charlton retained the Crown Berger Cup with a 4-1 win over Welling United at Park View Road. Full report tomorrow.

I saw Leamington go down 1-4 to rivals Stourbridge at the Phillips 66 Community Stadium. Match report and my programme article on the battle of the Somme here: Brakes versus Glassboys

Friday 8 July 2016

The doctor's diagnosis

I made a rare visit to the doctor this morning. Invariably, this means that more of the time is taken up talking about football. He is a Manchester City season ticket holder and is excited about Guardiola. We also agreed that it would all go wrong with United for the Special One.

He wanted to know all that had happened at Charlton. His diagnosis: Charlton's natural level was the Championship. His prognosis: there would be no cure until the Belgians left.

Meire's latest mistake?

The excellent Drinking During the Game blog is reporting that the University of Greenwich is to be replaced as shirt sponsor by online gambling firm Betdaq: Shirt sponsors

Admittedly, many clubs are sponsored by betting companies and people are entitled to bet if they want to. However, it is also clear that an increasing number of people are getting into financial difficulty because of online and other forms of gambling. According to Gambling Commission figures, British bettors lost £12.6bn last year with the amount rising because of online gambling.

One Addick commented, 'Of course, as a socially responsible, ethical community club we have previously resisted these kind of firms for the shirt, although we have had official betting partners. However, it's another blot on this regimes copybook and I guess no one is really surprised any more.'

The decision has now been confirmed by the club: New sponsor

A spoof Katrien Meire account says that the choice of a betting company is deliberate as she treats fans like mug punters.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Thanks, but no thanks

In a rare show of unanimity, both Charlton and Millwall have turned down the free offer of released Fulham midfielder Jamie O'Hara: Thanks, but no thanks

He was dubbed the 'Putney Piro' [shome mishtake shurely?] but faded towards the end of the season.

Andrew Crofts to appear in Crown Berger

Midfielder Andrew Crofts is training with Charlton today and is expected to feature in the Crown Berger Cup at Park View Road on Saturday: Andrew Crofts

The 32-year old played with Brighton and Hove Albion and Gillingham, but is now a free agent. He is a former Wales international.

Some Charlton fans think that he is not the midfield playmaker that we need, others that we could do worse. Needs must.

Jonathan Acworth claims this was a recommendation made by him, so maybe we will see him in the dugout at Park View Road.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Charlton boost defensive options

Charlton are looking to best their options in central defence and 32-year old Lewis Buxton, formerly with Stoke City and the Massives, is training at Sparrows Lane. He was with Rotherham United last season, but is now a free agent (i.e., out of a job): Buxton

There are rumours that Jordan Cousins may go to QPR, but I have no confirmation at the moment. It would appear that QPR have made a bid, but it was rejected as too low Perhaps they need to add on the tube fare.

Other clubs said to be interested include Norwich City, Ipswich Town, Reading and Fulham. We knew he was going to go, but I don't want him go to the Super Hoops.

Farewell, then, Johann Berg Gudmundsson

Clarets and Charlton sources, most significantly Richard Cawley of the SLP, are reporting that Charlton have accepted an offer of around £2.5m for Johann Berg Gudmundsson. It will be the first signing of the summer for the Clarets: Burnley move

It had been hoped for around £3m, but they are careful with their money 'oop north. I have great respect for Burnley as a well run club that punches way above its weight. I think that Charlton fans showed that when they applauded the 'Burnley champions' banner after the last match of the season. Burnley fans then joined those from Charlton to protest against the current regime.

Whether Gudmundsson will be a first team regular at Turf Moor remains to be seen. Meanwhile, we say 'Valete' and use the traditional formula of 'Thanks for all you tried to do.'

Personal terms have now been agreed and the deal is an initial £2.5m which could increase by a further million: Gudmundsson

I notice that there are very few hits on Addick's Third Division Diary: Link That is where stories are now being posted first and they will only appear here for one more week or so, although I will provide links for a few days after that.

Brexit and Charlton

Apparently there is going to be a Voice of the Valley out early in August and there has been an unconfirmed rumour that Nigel Farage is to start getting his life back by writing an article on Brexit and football. The fanzine is, of course, published from Ramsgate which was in the Thanet South seat contested by Farage in the last election. VOTV editor Everitt is thought not to be well disposed to UKIP, but a celebrity contributor may be too good a chance to miss.

Meanwhile, our sister site The Political Economy of Football has looked at some of the consequences of Brexit for football: Uncertain times

One thing I am certain of is that if Charlton fans had been given a chance to vote on whether Roland and Katrien should leave, one would have seen a vote in one direction that would rival the results achieved in the former German Democratic Republic. I once had to sit in West Berlin watching DDR news and it gave a new meaning to 'boring'.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Interest in Gudmundsson

Not surprisingly, there has been interest in Johann Berg Gudmundsson since his return from international duty. Norwich City are among those interested and a price of around £3m is expected: Man in demand

Many Addicks are quite critical of Gudmundsson and his performances this year have been rather sulky and inconsistent. But then one can understand when one looks at coaches like Karel Fraeye and some of the dross in the rest of the squad.

Barmy platoon?

You can probably count the number of Addicks in Warwickshire on one hand. Apart from me, I know of one near Warwick, one in Stratford and one in Coventry. One of the leading lights emigrated to Canada a long time ago, but at least I was able to get a ticket for him for the Greatest Game.

Yesterday I was giving a presentation at King Henry the Eighth School in Coventry and I started with a joke about Charlton because everyone in Coventry thinks you are barmy to support Charlton when you could be supporting the glorious Sky Blues (at least that's an easy away game for me). Somehow or other, sitting in his Ramsgate fastness, VOTV editor Rick Everitt picked up on what I said and tweeted about it.

Having tea in the staff room afterwards, one of the teachers asked me incredulously if I was really a Charlton season ticket holder. I pointed out that for each home Saturday game I would be setting off from Coventry Station adjacent to the school.

It is crazy when you think of what Roland has done to the club. Fans have been heartened to some extent by the appointment of Russell Slade. If Roland really wanted to mend bridges, he could find Katrien Meire a suitable job in his Belgian operations. He could then appoint a chief executive with relevant experience and less of a reputation for offering contentious versions of reality.

Roland's whole scheme was premised on the assumption that financial fair play would kick in and create a level playing field. Even someone who is not a lawyer like me knew that this was likely to be challenged as a breach of competition law, as it has been.

Katrien Meire is a competition lawyer. She is a graduate of University College London and has been an intern at some leading law firms. Before she came to Charlton she had a post at Standard Liege that involved responsibility for legal affairs. Why didn't she warn Roland? Or did she think it would be unwise to speak truth to power? I don't know, but I am puzzled.

This post also appears on Addick's Third Division Diary.

Saturday 2 July 2016

Facing up to reality

The other day my non-league club contacted me and asked me where my programme copy was for next Saturday's match. The season is creeping up on us and it is time to face up to the reality of being in League One.

Accordingly, I need to start moving back to Addick's Third Division Diary. From next Monday I will publish stories both on this site and the third division diary for a couple of weeks, then just use the third division diary.

When we went down last time, I kept using the Championship diary for a season on the grounds that it was a temporary change, but this simply brought bad luck.

I am old enough to remember the Third Division North and South when only one team from each league was promoted. Mind you, teams like Crystal Palace and QPR were kept in their proper place.

You can find the Third Division diary here: Third Division

I realise that the links need updating, which I will do, but things are a bit busy at the moment as I have taken on two part-time jobs in London.

Last but not least, Da iawn Cymru.

Friday 1 July 2016

Slade in poetic mode

I took a couple of days off to visit friends in Devon, but had not foreseen the political turmoil that was going to break out. Hence, I spent much of my time doing live interviews for French radio, talking to American journalists and answering questions from Chile.

Having arrived back, I find that Russell Slade has done his first 'big interview' with Richard Cawley of the SLP: The big interview

Slade has been compiling a conduct book for players which includes his favourite poem. It is not clear whether Katrien Meire's conduct will be regulated. Perhaps she requires her own personal conduct book.

He is clearly a details man, with changes planned for the dining area at Sparrows Lane. However, he does also promise an 'exciting' style of play and wants to revive the enthusiasm of the team. Reviving the enthusiasm of supporters may be a harder task while Belgian rule continues.