Friday, 12 February 2016

No change from Duchatelet - time to turn up the heat

As expected, Roland Duchatelet trotted out the pseudo-justification and soft-soap to the SLP yesterday before scuttling back to Belgium. In short, he's sorry, they have made mistakes but nothing that can't be rectified by the excellent Meire and the loyal Murray.The rest of it was just words. No action, no change, no nothing.

What he has succeeded in doing is stiffening the turnout for tomorrow's 5pm Protest and compliance with CARD'S Midday announcement. It is also time for us to up the ante. A match boycott must be on the cards so we can give them a taste of what the ground looks like when it's virtually empty. More than that, however, we need to orchestrate a mass refusal to renew season tickets early to crank up the pressure on Meire's efforts to break even and I would seriously consider turning that into a complete boycott if there's no progress towards selling the club. Let's face it, we are going down, so it shouldn't be hard to get hefty support for both of these.

I could go on ad finitum dissecting Duchebag's every sentence but it's all so predictable we would only be going over old ground and there's a great thread already on Charlton Life that is already over 300 posts, all of them decrying the Belgian's waffle. I am absolutely convinced that relegation will be a minor disappointment for Roland but lined with the silver of a lower cost base for next season which will cut his losses and should make us more competitive.  I'm not buying it and literally won't be.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Duchebag in town

Roland Duchatelet is in London and we will be hearing from him. Rich Cawley has interviewed him for the SLP and he has also done a piece to camera for the sycophantic Official Site. It would be encouraging to hear some genuine remorse and actual commitment to action but the previewing on social media suggests we will be getting another round of pseudo-justification and soft-soap.

A poster on Charlton Life is sure they snapped him getting off a train at Charlton Station and perhaps he came by public transport instead of driving his black Porsche Panamera as he did previously. He may have been warned his car might be targeted? However unlikely, they are clearly feeling paranoid as evidenced by the gate closure this week attended by Security men. Irrespective, someone went out of their way today to leave a couple of home-made notices to Roland in his native tongue on lamp-posts in Floyd Road on the off-chance he would be returning on public transport again today.

This really is a fight they can't win. Any business with shareholders or a significantly valuable fanbase would have to have acted to remove the incompetent and culpable Katrien Meire long ago. She may just be Roland's mouthpiece but she is making a consistent and unnecessary horlicks of doing even that. The fact that Roland doesn't have shareholders to appease means he can ignore the obvious and the damage to our fanbase is relative and is ultimately all out of his pocket. Even so, it's staggering at how loyal he has been in the circumstances and you do have to wonder why and where it's all headed.

I have been saying for a long time now that we are relegation fodder and given the growing strength of antipathy towards the regime, they are sleep-walking into a disastrous commercial position which will become blindingly obvious when thousands fail to renew their season tickets early.

It might be an eye-opener for Roland to hang around, watch Cardiff romp to victory and see the size of Saturday's protest and to hear the venom they have generated. However, why bother when's not really interested in the football and wants to be home with Madame Duchatelet for le weekend?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Meire - the weakest link (Part 2)

It's been a vintage Meire-baiting week so far and she has played her part hugely predictably and has probably burnt her new Head of Communications intern in the process. I wrote back in November about her impressive list of gaffes but already that is hideously out-of-date, so I thought I would do her the honour of updating it, just in case Roland wants a handy crib list. Given she is apparently a Lawyer, he may be grateful for some evidence.

- sacking of Chris Powell the season after getting us out of League One
- sacking of Jose Riga after he managed to keep us up that same season
- failure to properly support Bob Peeters when his squad were clearly short of resources prior to January
- failing to tell the truth about the recruitment of Guy Luzon after being undermined by her boss and believing she could lie her way out of it
- refusal to listen to supporter groups or respond to individual fans complaints
- setting a V I P supporters meeting to coincide with a fans protest meeting in Woolwich and then refusing to answer certain direct questions
- deciding not to renew the V I P scheme on the grounds that "we don't need the money" (this when V I P members actually pay more in advance than the match-by-match value of tickets)
- that Northstand lounge pass fiasco
- false economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service
- cocking up the offer of compensatory food vouchers for West Stand season ticket holders turfed out of their season to accommodate gloating Bournemouth fans in our end-of season humiliation game
- condoning the cheap shot sex-on-the-pitch advertising stunt which probably brought in bugger all additional revenue (she would have said otherwise after the furore)
- closing the ticket office on Thursdays and refusing to sell tickets to fans who arrived unknowingly
- cocking up the mailing out of season tickets and trying to blame Royal Mail
- deciding to stop disabled supporters from using the main lifts in the West Stand to reach their seats on Health & Safety grounds when they really wanted to avoid them inconveniencing Vista Lounge members (it was ok for them to use the service lifts)
- sacking the incumbent programme seller third party without first ensuring an adequate replacement service
- that ridiculous sofa which makes our club look cheap and for what?
- being naive enough to slag our older fans off to foreign journalists, telling them she doesn't care about our history and belittling a complainant
- failing to back Guy Luzon with a competitive first team squad
- publicly backing Luzon a week before sacking 'our Alex Ferguson' (or failing to check with Duchebag first on his intentions)
- sacking Damian Matthew along with Luzon, after all Matthew has done for our club, without any adequate explanation
- sacking David Martane only months after appointing him without any adequate explanation
- appointing yet another Belgian nonentity
- extending the ticket office closure to Wednesdays as well as Thursdays
- now looking at options to develop the club shop for flats
- presiding over a new low point in Club-Supporter relations, which takes some doing given our history and at a time when we have the wealthiest owner ever
- attempting to organise a last minute Family Day with bouncy castles in the West Stand car park to put parents and children in the firing line for our first pre-match Protest
- smirking at fans and taking a condescending photo of hundreds protesting
- belittling protesting fans by saying we were the "Negative 2%" when we were clearly far more, even then
- telling us our Protest was "unacceptable," as if we needed her permission!
- caught out at a web conference in Dublin saying that Charlton fans were "weird" for having an emotional attachment to the club which is owned by The Shareholder and that she would expect us to treat Charlton the same way you would as a customer at a restaurant or a cinema!
- putting on a live House DJ in Crossbars on the second Protest day as if that might provide a more attractive alternative
- the embarrassing email trail with Peter Varney which showed her and Roland's complete unprofessionalism in dealing with a legitimate business approach. It was insulting to see how a hero of the Charlton past was so badly disrespected
- the loan/sale of Tony Watt to Cardiff City when we were crying out for goals
- the hectoring of the put upon Fans Forum in their January non event
- Bannergate - the instruction for stewards to remove a "We want our club back" banner from a fan  which resulted in them also being removed from the stand in front of thousands of other irate protesters
- responding to ongoing protests by erecting steel barriers, bringing in dozens extra Stewards and Police. Installing floodlights in the car park to illuminate filming of protesting supporters and installing blinds at function room windows in an attempt to hide herself away
- the fabled exit at Colchester of her and hapless Fraye in the kit man's van after we were knocked out of the F A Cup by League One's whipping boys
- the removal of "Seb and Ben's" flag at the following home match, something that has been a part of the North Lower for many years
- the spontaneous and childish Official Site response to a fan prank that saw Katrien Directorship resigned with Companies House ("on Companies House!")

As I said when I finished November's post, what next?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Scotland 9 v England 15

Yet another Scottish disappointment and another double losing weekend with Charlton somehow contriving to lose to fellow League One hopefuls, Bristol City.

Flybe nearly ruined my wife and I's weekend by announcing five minutes before our flight to Edinburgh was due to leave (12.20 Saturday) that there would be a change of routing and it would not be flying from London City airport. No, it would be taking off from Southend! Cue four hours of nail-biting, discomfort and stress. We had the chance of saying forget it and heading back across the river for the Charlton match although I am really pleased we didn't or things might have turned really nasty. Instead we waited for a coach to appear and then struggled down the A13 to Southend before checking in again and going through security, then waiting for 30 minutes looking at the plane before we finally boarded and took off. We landed twenty minutes short of kick-off and with everyone else heading for the tram, we dashed for a taxi and mercifully the road through Corstorphine was as clear as a bell. As we scrambled out at the Murrayfield Hotel to meet my Uncle and get our match tickets we could hear God Save the Queen. Got to our seats with two minutes on the clock.

Shame then that it was another huff and puff Scotland showing where we threatened to take the lead in the first half but didn't and then ran out of steam in the second. England deserved the victory and always looked like they had another gear if they really needed it. Scotland's forwards won enough ball but the backs were once again unable to break a high England line and lacked the invention or aggression to break through. I thought Owen Farrell was the Man of the Match but it went to Billy Vunipola. I had to put up with a rugby knob (yes, he was English) behind me and listen to him getting unnecessarily excited every time Vunipola got the ball, made his yard and then hit the turf. Maybe it's just me but that's all I ever see him do. Admittedly it's usually accompanied by a roar of expectation and a large 'ooh' as if the man is a born-again Jonah Lomu. He isn't. He adds ballast in the scrum but he is no ball carrying genius. 

Over my breakfast this morning I got time to catch-up on the latest non event at the Valley. Really disappointed to hear Igor is injured again and didn't make the starting line-up. I don't know how bad it is but he is looking like a crock and in light of him saying he contemplated giving up football last time he was injured, you have to wonder. The rest of it, from what I read, sounded dreadful. Over-run again in midfield and no teeth. 

As for the protest, a brilliant poster by CARD that would have any rational owner or CEO having second thoughts and a novel idea for 100 posters following the nonsense at the last home match. What could go wrong? Ah yes, Seb Lewis, 850 consecutive matches home and away is singled out and has his 'Seb and Ben' flag confiscated as the Home Guard are instructed to search fans and remove flags as they haven't had the requisite permission from the Guppenfuhrer. Absolutely pathetic and insulting to every one of us.

I hear too that there were lots of extra police on duty and horses for a demo that wasn't planned. They also have a new floodlight behind the West Stand, presumably to intimidate us and so that they can get a better picture of all the Refuseniks and Negative Two Percenters. The Cardiff game could get tasty because there will be another big protest and the authorities appear to be upping the ante. I sincerely hope not but it doesn't bode well. I will be there again because Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire have to be made to leave Charlton Athletic, however long it takes. Here before you and long after you've gone. 

Friday, 5 February 2016

Egg chasing openers

I will miss the important Brizzle City clash at the Valley tomorrow and will have to make do with internet updates as I will be drinking at Murrayfield ahead of the Calcutta Cup. Winning doubles are rare for me, so I will gladly settle for a Charlton victory and another day of missed opportunity for Scotland if it furthers the Addicks chances of retaining their Championship status. 

There should be a good atmosphere at the Valley with a larger than normal contingent of Wurzels making their way up the M4. That, the ongoing protests and a couple of new squad faces will hopefully enliven proceedings. We should have too much for City, especially if we go for it and that should be the case under Jose Riga.

The opening day of the 6 Nations is my favourite Saturday in the sporting calendar, even pipping the first day of the football season. The organisers do it brilliantly well across the venues and the staggering of matches and live TV showings mean everyone gets to watch every game if they have the inclination. It's France v Italy first up in what should be a routine French victory. The Scotland v England game should be too close to call. England's ongoing transition under Eddie Jones and Scotland's steady progression under Vern Cotter should make the affair much closer than in recent years. 

I have a number of friends from a number of countries at the match tomorrow and am hoping to bring them all together for a post-match pint where we will also swap footballing updates, especially Charlton, West Ham, Celtic and Aberdeen.

My hearing has yet to return to normal this morning following a rock show at Wembley Arena last night - Hailstorm, Black Stone Cherry and my favourite, Shinedown. They are the reason I went, although to return the compliment I will have to endure Slipknot next week. Time for work...

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Two Deadline Day moves to warm the cockles

No, not the loan signings of Yaya Sonogo and Rod Fanni, but the binning of Vaz Te and Rhys Williams (you add Franck Moussa if you want).

Sonogo is an Arsenal player and whilst he has been ridiculed there in part ("Sonogoals"), he has youth on his side and I'd be prepared to give him a go. Rod Fanni has undoubtedly been a performer who would have graced our side, but at 34 he looks very much like a short-term defensive cover signing, particularly for Chris Solly who struggles to play more than once a week.

No, my cheers were reserved for Vaz Te being told to do one for thinking he could swan around and get away with half-trying, and Rhys Williams for his disastrous defensive showing. What I would be even more pleased to see is someone else at the club carrying the can for recruiting these wasters - it can't all have been Karel Fraye's fault. At least Phil Chapple is in the clear.

Jose Riga emerges with credit here and for putting his foot down and for refusing to take that West Ham 'starlet' who had the audacity to pull a face at the prospect of even coming here for first team football. Riga's certainly getting away with being his own man, although I do wonder if he has licence for this from Baron Bomburst.

Good news, too, that Ademola Lookman has signed on for another two years and we have avoided the temptation to cash in on him for now. That has to represent a bit of a u-turn in Madame Meire's plans of handing Roly a break-even. I am putting that down to our parlous league position and perhaps a final realisation by The Shareholder of what relegation will do to our fan-base (his finances) on the back of his hopeless CEO's diabolical mismanagement of our club. Unfortunately, I am confident we will pay the price for the overspend next season with a cashing in of assets and culling of the squad once more. Let's just hope we have a Championship season to prepare for and not the ignomy of Division Three.