Friday, 27 February 2009

Revival of the Supporters Club?

You may have noticed a smattering of posts from the Charlton Athletic Supporters Club website this week after a very long silence. The first one to appear was an "open letter to all supporter groups" which appealed for unity and came with the backing of Steve Waggott. 

The article acknowledged the demise of the CASC in recent years having lost their office at the ground and some of their raison d'etre as other supporter mediums and groups have blossomed independently, particularly via the internet. As a supporter of the club, I have always been ready to join the CASC (and I still am) and have willingly paid my £4 or whatever it used to be for a piece of cardboard with a number on it. It might have become slightly more sophisticated in recent years but I wouldn't know because it's some time since I have been approached, pressed or invited to join - maybe they've scrapped the idea as outdated? The CASC has always struggled to maintain momentum, and like the Unions, interest and membership only rises when times look hard and we feel the need to band together for a common sense of purpose. 

The CASC has, of course, been the focal point for previous notable supporter successes in terms of the original fanzines, the Back to the Valley campaign as well as the Target 10,000-40,000 initiatives. It brought those willing to "do something" together, but we shouldn't forget that they were invariably falling out with each other and I always found it disheartening that so many people with a collective aim couldn't rise above party politics and squabbling. Perhaps I am being unrealistic here in my hopes but the fact is that this is what usually prevented the CASC from pushing on or maintaining any volume momentum. 

The development of the club website, the daily club email, the advent of the Blogger and the highly successful Charlton Life Forum have all combined to serve a need for information and debate far more successfully than the CASC ever managed via the programme or ad hoc meetings. So, it is good , therefore, to see that the supporter's club are picking up on this. 

Supporters groups are being invited to a meeting with Steve Waggott on 12th March with the purpose of fostering unity and I can't see that this can do any harm, although I am not convinced there is any particular disunity between respective groups. What there is, is a fairly unanimous dissatisfaction with the management of the club and the team this season but those issues are very well known. Indeed, the Club's new "Fans Forum" was set-up to take the temperature of supporters in the ground and provide feedback, although it looks like the thermometer might have broken at the first reading on this!
What would really help is better communication from the Chief Exec. Steve Waggott has been largely anonymous since he took over. Admittedly most of this season's news has been mostly negative but if you don't provide a commentary, then the void gets filled for you. Steve Waggott may believe that he does this via the programme but I am convinced that this should be supplemented by email and the club website. The programme is sporadic in appearance, doesn't reach as many fans as the interent and many of those who do buy it don't read it like a book.

I will watch developments with interest!

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