Friday, 28 October 2016

talkSport - Katrien Meire

I listened in today and was disappointed overall.  I am not a talkSport listener (more a Radio 5 man) so don't know the show and am unfamiliar with the format. Jim White seemed prepared to ask hard questions but the trouble was he clearly lacked enough knowledge on the subject to follow-up or challenge Meire on her answers. Danny Murphy and Dean Saunders as guests added little for me and, if anything, they diluted the questioning by giving us the benefit of their experience which wasn't really relevant; Saunders seemed to think that all that was missing was a clear conversation between Meire and the supporters, whilst Murphy thought Slade should bear more of the blame and that results were the underlying issue.

If this was an opportunity for Meire to turn a new leaf and seek the real help she needs from the most knowledgeable fans she has spurned for two and a half years, she failed completely by once again laying out the long line of excuses and half-truths that have angered all of those who know better. It's very clear to me that she will do absolutely anything to cling to her position and that Duchatelet is prepared to back her no matter because her cares more about her as an individual than he does Charlton Athletic Football Club. Jim White's first attack was on the theme of how unsuccessful we have been and how much resentment there is to her which questioned her performance. The retort was the lame 'I wouldn't still be here if I was useless' line but Jim missed the open goal to follow-up about Roland's detachment and his relationship with her as a fellow Belgian and family friend (I do wonder if they are actually related - it would explain a lot).

The rest of the interview looked to me like she was answering questions she had been given. She was still unsteady and hesitant at times and said things I suspect she now regrets, like referring to the relationship with supporters as "a war." She must also know that by trying to take the moral high ground by saying she has "even offered to talk with CARD" may score points with ill-informed listeners of other clubs but will rile Charlton fans who know the history and make future communication even harder, if that's possible.

The big issue with the interview is that it didn't get beyond tactical questioning. Why no direct approach about Duchatelet's long term strategy following the failure of FFP? The linked question about us effectively being a player-farm where the emphasis is more on player return than first team results is actually the heart-of-the-matter. Two questions here would have had Meire floundering because they don't have a positive first-team strategy and the focus is now all on developing and selling young players as quickly as possible. The first team exists primarily to get them air time and maintain a facade of ambition..

In a way it's sad that she doesn't even recognise that CARD exists to remove Duchatelet (the clue is in the name Katrien) and not attempt to help her cling to power or soften the financial blow for Duchatelet. On that point, I was angered that Jim White didn't know enough to call out that all the money wasted by Duchatelet over the past three years has not been funded by him yet but leveraged as debt. He will likely have to fork out for this one day but there is an important distinction to be made at this point and we need to keep making it.

I think Rick Everett may get a right-to-reply slot tomorrow but it's a bit after the horse has bolted. Mere was apparently insistent on no questions from fans whilst she was there (maybe she's not that stupid after all).

My flag for Saturday has arrived. Let's make it another uncomfortable afternoon for Meire in a place where her lies and spin are transparent and where she is seen as the failing clueless incompetent that she is.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Meire Bingo - tune in and play!

If you are tuning in to the Jim White radio show on talkSport tomorrow morning c 11am to hear Katrien Meire defend the indefensible, get a pen and play along with hundreds of other Charlton supporters as we do Katrien Meire Bingo!

It all depends on how many questions Jim can field but there's every chance of "House!"

I'm sure we have our own favourites. Mine is missing "Chris Powell was never put under any pressure to play particular players."

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Katrien Meire on Jim White's talkSport show - the long list of failure

Talksport's Jim White is promising 'answers from the top at CAFC' on his Thursday morning show (10am to 1pm). He was snapped at Gillingham on Saturday talking to Katrien Meire, so my guess is she will be interviewed and not The Puppet-Master himself (we are only 1.5% of his business after all). She will also see this as yet another opportunity to get her name out there and, presumably, another attempt to right the boat after so many previous failures. 

It's hard to remember the litany of mistakes, lies and failure of the current Regime lead by Katrien Meire. There have been so many but I am determined we don't forget. It will make a handy reference for future owners in terms of 'what not to do.' If I have missed anything, and that's very possible given the volume, please let me know. In the meantime, here's a handy list for Jim or for any callers if she's prepared to face fans directly on the phone. My guess is Pitch PR won't risk her with the clubs supporters.


- The sale of our two most valuable players within weeks of taking over. A side struggling to score goals had it's top scorer, Yann Kermorgant, sold and a decent centre-mid in Dale Stephens flogged off. The folly of both of those has been proven subsequently. In return we got Reza Goochannejhad and Astrit Asdarevic who managed five goals and fifty-odd appearances between them.

- Sacking of Chris Powell the season after getting us out of League One. Powell intimated that Duchatelet had pressured him to play loan players he didn't feel were good enough. Alex Dyer confirmed it after he was subsequently sacked.
- Sacking of Jose Riga after he managed to keep us up that same season. Riga too was pressured to play loan players by Duchatelet, according to Dyer, but he too refused to yield.
- Failure to properly support Bob Peeters when his squad were clearly short of resources prior to January 2015. A decent start fell away with the first injuries.
- 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 - she interviewed 20 applicants on a Sunday evening or some such nonsense.
- Refusal to listen to supporter groups or respond to individual fans complaints. Eventually forced to comply with EFL regulations and did so half-heartedly by hiring an agency to respond, call centre fashion, and up the response rate.
- Allowing out-of-contract Michael Morrison to move to Birmingham City on a free. Disgraceful treatment for a whole-hearted and thoroughly competent defensive leader who continues to shine at Championship level.


- Setting a VIP supporters meeting to coincide with a fans protest meeting in Woolwich and then refusing to answer certain direct questions from fans.
- Deciding not to renew the VIP scheme on the grounds that "we don't need the money" (this when VIP members actually pay more in advance than the match-by-match value of tickets).
- That Northstand lounge pass fiasco which managed to upset just about supporter involved.
- False economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service. It's now running a skeleton service and must be close to being halted.
- 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 and Safety grounds when they really wanted to avoid them inconveniencing Vista Lounge members (it was ok for disabled fans to use the service lifts).
- Sacking the incumbent programme seller third party without first ensuring an adequate replacement service. Programme sales haven't recovered and the programme itself is in her sights.
- That ridiculous sofa which made our club look cheap and for what? (Subsequently torn to pieces by protesting fans after the Burnley end-of-season humiliation game).
- Being naive enough to slag our older fans off to foreign journalists, telling them she doesn't care about our history and belittling an elderly complainant who had the audacity to imply she might know more about the club than Meire having been supporting them all her life.
- Failing to back Guy Luzon with a competitive first team squad after having done the same to Peeters.
- Publicly backing Luzon a week before sacking 'our Alex Ferguson' (or failing to check with Duchatelet 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 in Karel Fraye as our manager! The ridiculous prettiness that he was a 'temporary' appointment to try and buy him enough games to turn the fans. His record speaks for itself - truly appalling.


- Extending the ticket office closure to Wednesdays as well as Thursdays. She wants to get everything online and get rid of callers and older fans who don't use the internet.
- Considering options to develop the club shop for flats or the Jimmy Seed Stand for third-party development.
- 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 on the first protest.
- 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! Talk about misjudging your audience. She liked it however.
- 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 and our most successful ever CEO was so badly disrespected.
- The loan/sale of Tony Watt to Cardiff City when we were crying out for goals and heading for relegation.
- The hectoring of the put-upon Fans Forum in their January 2016 tick-box supporter engagement exercise for Meire.
- Bannergate - the instruction for stewards to remove a "We want our club back" banner from a lad and his mum 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 the hapless Fraye in the kit man's van after we were knocked out of the FA 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 - fans who haven't missed a game home and away for something ridiculous, like ten years.
- The spontaneous and childish Official Site response to a fan prank that saw Katrien Directorship resigned with Companies House ("on Companies House!").
- The graduate who was allowed to mistakenly show a picture of Alan Campbell on the big screen during a minute's recognition for Graham Moore.
- Following large scale protests at the Middlesbrough home match, the hypocritical "club are extremely saddened by the situation..." email only for that to be followed days later by the contradictory 'Duchatelet Rant' which triggered the resignation of Mel Baroni,  a Comms professional who could only manage 46 days sufferance of Meire and Duchatelet.
- Desperate attempt by Meire to get the Police to take more action to prevent lawful protests. Best she could get was a statement from Scotland Yard, presumably to fob her off, to the effect that the police would take action if they deemed it necessary e.g. they hadn't previously seen the need for any because the protests have been within the law.
- Professionals hired to remove web-links to negative articles about Meire. This has now been done on multiple occasions.
- Resignation of John Little, Safety Officer and of Felicity Waller, Head of Commercial.
- Meire going on holiday to Dubai in early April with the relegation battle at it's height.
- Relegation to League One and the sacking of Jose Riga for the second time.
- The loss of 4000 season ticket holders, the largest year-on-year percentage reduction in the history of the club. 
- Chris Wilder fails to get an agreement in writing to reflect his deal with Meire to become her 7th manager and gets a better offer from Sheffield United in the meantime.
- At the press conference to announce Russell Slade's inauguration as the 7th manager, Meire manages to imply that Peter Varney's approach to acquire the club may have come with plans to relocate away from the Valley. Barney hung her out to dry in the coming weeks and exposed yet another lie.
- Incomprehensible decision to charge fans a £2.50 levy for picking tickets up in person at the Valley. Compounded by a £3 match-day penalty if you aren't there to buy at least two hours before kick-off! She has to remove the £2.50 levy bowing to public pressure but the match-day penalty remains.
- Pope, Gudmundsson and Cousins sold-off to raise £5m to help reduce the operating losses of the last year. Twenty players effectively moved off the wage bill to make room for lesser ones.
- Launch of 'Agreed Behavioural Contracts.' Regime-critical Charlton and former Club employee invited for a meeting with the club to discuss his season ticket application where he was asked to sign a contract preventing him from criticising the Regime on social media!
- Over 5000 football fans sign an on-line petition seeking Meire's removal from F A Council. 
- Meire turns up late at her inaugural F A Council meeting and misses her introduction and 'scarf ceremony.'
- Revelations from fan Rick Everitt that Duchatelet has employed a young Belgian since taking over Charlton Athletic to recommend players for his network of clubs based upon his own computer rankings and from watching games on TV. He has zero professional football experience, no coaching qualifications or anything else! Dyer referred to him indirectly when he was sacked as one of "the computer scouts." 
- Presumably under instruction from her new PR advisors, PITCH PR, Meire emails Rick Everett (Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet) at 6pm asking to talk formally with opponents of the Regime for the good of the club for the first time. The next morning, and before any response could even be agreed, Meire leaks the letter to the press to make it look like CARD are inflexible. 
- Finally, after months and months of unexplained delay, Phase 2 of Roland's much trumpeted Training Ground Redevelopment is announced. It amounts to more groundwork and a modest building for the Community Trust. No mention of the main building redevelopment. CARD believes this has been shelved permanently.
- Following another large protest for the Coventry match, Meire or Keohane instruct Heavy Squad Security Guards to apprehend a young fan as he is leaving the stadium at the end of the game. He is grabbed by the throat and handled roughly in front of a police officer which quickly attracts a hostile crowd. In the aftermath, CARD identify all of the security officers from earlier photos and video and the key ones were all seated in the Directors Box as part of personal security for Meire and Keohane. Complaints and investigations are underway.
- Meire accepts an invitation to appear on the Talksport show on Thursday 27th October....can't wait for this, she's bound to go off script. Hopefully we might get a "shitty shit" rant like when she turned up at a business in football seminar at BT Centre.

You can tune in on DAB radio or 1053/1089 AM. Sky viewers can listen on channel 0108. The programme runs from 10am to 1pm but my guess is she may be on about 11am after a warm-up session. That would give time for a further discussion....

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Gillingham 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

I didn't go. A mate offered me a Box ticket this week but I had already decided I couldn't face it and my Wife had made other plans so I was looking after the kids. I am glad I was as we were poor and Slade managed to anger the sizeable away following once again with his negative tactics.

The first half was dire and we showed zero ambition again with a 4-5-1 formation which battled to hold a Gillingham side who have only won one of their last 12. We duly fell behind before half-time with a goal from ex-Addick youth player, Bradley Dack.

After the break Slade did at least show more ambition by going 4-4-2 when Ajose was introduced but by now it was raining on the Charlton fans in the open end behind the goal. We managed to miss a penalty before an unlikely second was awarded in the last few minutes and Ajose was on hand to save a point. Slade has been talking about turning the draws into wins but today he managed to turn a defeat into a draw. There are worse sides in this league than us but not many. We've now drawn 8 from 14 and it's a dangerous position to be in, because if the defeats outnumber the wins it inevitably puts you in trouble. Talk of promotion or the play-offs is fanciful and we are much more likely to be dragged into another relegation battle. If we lose Holmes or Lookman we are in trouble.

A supporter paid for a plane to trail a "Duchatelet & Meire - Time to Fly" banner over the ground at kick-off. It drew a large cheer from the visiting end but I am informed Meire was at the back of the Medway Stand and couldn't see it, which is a shame. BT Sport showed a video clip and it's been doing the rounds on Twitter.

I understand there was also the predictable scuffling after the game as rival fans made their way back to the station. I'm sure ours weren't entirely innocent but it really is a desperate place to visit. I decided last time I was in the town for a match that I wouldn't be repeating it. Shit pubs, basic shops and white trash. Rochester is the place to have a drink and get in and out as quickly as possible.

Next week's opponents Chesterfield were spanked three-zip at home by Scunny so should stagger into SE7 next week. Tip for Slade - play 4-4-2 and send your players out to win the match in the first-half. The now-cleared-rapist, Ched Evans, will almost certainly score so we need to set about getting two goals as quickly as we can.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Prize Flag Competition

Those clever Charlton fans at CARD have declared our next home game on 28th October against Chesterfield 'free speech' day and asked fans to bring banners and flags to the game.

Their ask comes on the back of a young fan being roughed-up by the club's heavy mob security team as he was leaving the ground, reputedly for having displayed a North Korean 'dictatorship' flag during match. The 'free speech' theme also plays against the increasingly paranoid Regime leadership team. Their latest moves have been to threaten to stop players from attending Branch Supporter's club evenings if the Regime is criticised on social media by identifiable members - a member has already been forced to resign! You would think they might have learnt following their own goal during the close season when they tried to get a former employee to sign a 'behavioural contract' before allowing him the honour of buying a season ticket.

So, I am looking forward to seeing who can bring the best banner or flag reflecting the freedom of speech theme. Marks will be given for originality, humour and just how annoyed it's likely to make the Regime. First prize of £50 will be awarded to my chosen winner and there will be honourary mentions for second and third places.

Port Vale 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

I didn't follow the match last night but was pleasantly surprised by the point if I am honest. The feedback from those present is almost universally damning that it was another two points dropped and no-one seems to be looking much further than Russell Slade for answers.

I said yesterday that I thought it would be a tough match based on Vale's previous home form but it would appear they were still shell-shocked from their pasting at Bramall Lane. We bossed the first-half even with a 4-5-1 or 4-4-1-1- formation and took the lead through Ulvestad. We might have had a penalty and  a second goal wouldn't have flattered us. 

However, after the break we sat back as we have done so often now under Slade and tried to defend the lead. Three negative substitutions towards the end and Harry Lennon promptly concedes a penalty in the last few minutes to let Vale back in.

My heart goes out to the 253 Addicks who were present in the tiny 3000-odd gate. As a lad back in the late 70's when we were struggling as a club and a side, you could rely on 5000 hard-core home fans and about 250 away at any longer distance or night game. I went every week and could identify all of them. One Club coach, one Lewis's coach, fifty by train and the rest drove. Very sad to see we are back there.

Those who had made the effort obviously managed to make their late refrain of "Russell Slade, he aint got a clue" heard because his post match interview started with a sarcastic and angry response to the effect that it was obviously all his fault. No, Russell, we realise you don't actually play but there is an increasingly strong correlation between your in-game attics and substitutions and what happens to the results.

I am lumping on the Gills for Saturday and fully expect us to be in the bottom-four proper.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

One step forward....

A tough trip in prospect this evening to Port Vale. Vale sit in seventh, five points ahead of us. Their form has been patchy with a win, loss, win, loss, win, loss sequence and they were pumped 4-0 at Sheffield United on Saturday. However, their home form has been ok and they have seen off Gillingham and Millwall so far this season.

Russell Slade's troops should be up for it tonight after scoring three on Saturday and we should learn whether there is more to our side this season than a routine home win against a relegation favourite. Personally, I can see us taking another backward step ahead of what is a very awkward looking trip to the Priestfield where the locals are very expectant about beating us once again. 

Looking at the table and the fixtures this week, a double defeat would almost inevitably see us drop lower than 18th and the doom and gloom will descend again. No, one win doesn't make a season but our fans are incredibly fickle and the feel-good atmosphere as we left the Valley on Saturday felt pin-prick false to me.

It is still early days of course and Millwall showed last season that a run of form can swiftly move you up the table and into contention. Vale have been shipping goals this season as well as winning games and our chances tonight may depend on how prepared we are to commit men forward and attack. Therein lies the problem for me. Slade has shown repeatedly that he is ultra conservative and his philosophy is very much 'let's defend the point' we have from the outset of matches. On Saturday we even reverted to 4-5-1 after the anonymous Novak was hauled off with us winning. It worked for us with Magennis cutting loose but it's not been a successful strategy hitherto this season and I can see it not being enough this evening.

I hear that the lad singled out for a roughing-up after Saturday's protest by Keohane's Hit Squad turns out to the son of an old Charlton mucker of mine and that Dad was present and none-too-pleased with what he witnessed being inflected on his son. The Trust have taken the matter up with the Club but the bigger hope of any action here will be the police report about the direction given to the macho security team by Tony Keohane. What is strikingly clear is that in today's world where cameras and video capability is hand-held by nearly everyone is that the truth will out. It has been amazing to see what photos taken during the day have already revealed about the individual security men concerned. Their positions in the Directors Box for much of the match are clear as, indeed, was the call to challenge the lad in question as he left the stadium at the end of the game. The North Korean analogy for the Regime will run-and-run.