Sunday, 14 October 2012

Paul Elliott and the Russian Mafia

The latest rumours filling the communication vacuum at the Valley tell us that Paul Elliott will be appointed Chairman and that mysterious Russian money men are set to take financial responsibility from the Mysterons. I'm not really sure what to make of these.

The Daily Mirror has put it's neck on the line about Elliott but it looks like an "exclusive" and there is a risk that they are taking a punt on the story. Paul Elliott is a very well respected ex-footballer and Addick who has made a living as a politician in the ranks of the football authorities tackling racism in the game but I do wonder where the motivation and qualification comes for him to be Chairman of Charlton Athletic Football Club.

Yes, he learnt his trade at the Valley and the boy from Blackheath Bluecoats making 67 appearances for the Addicks before being sold on the cheap by hand-to-mouth Chairman Mark Hulyer. There is undoubtedly a fondness in his heart for the Addicks and certainly from us fans but he made his name, his career and his personal wealth at bigger clubs which I am sure are closer to him as a result than Charlton Athletic. 

The notion of being the first club to have a black chairman as well as a black manager and assistant manager is a good news story and would undoubtedly help draw more black fans to the Valley but that's not a good enough reason on it's own to do it.

I'm pretty sure Paul Elliott is comfortably financially and he drives a baby Bentley but he won't have the kind of dosh needed to Chair a modern professional Championship football club. He also has no experience of running a club although I have no doubt he could hold his own in a Boardroom. He has continued to earn a living as an advisor or consultant of sorts on tackling racism but this is miles away from chairing a football club. As a figurehead for anti-racism in football, he is an ideal candidate and I am sure he could perform a similar role for a football club if he was the figurehead and the club was run day-to-day by a hard-working and driven Chief Executive Officer. 

In the past, football club Chairman have been the owner-managers of their clubs in the same way as other small to medium sized businesses. However, with the millions pouring into the game at the top end, the bigger clubs are being run like the much bigger businesses they are where the Chairman is more of a figurehead and the financial backing comes from people who do not have the time or inclination to chair their clubs and who rely on CEO's to really provide the direction and energy. Therein lies my scepticism in this story as things stand. 

We are a business that really needs a Chairman with deep pockets, especially if the current money-men want out and new investment or ownership is being sought. I am pretty sure Paul Elliott would want (and need) proper payment for a role as Chairman and he would want a CEO doing all the work for him. At the moment we don't appear to be able to afford either and I am certain he is nowhere near being able to buy the club and he wouldn't want the personal risk.

That then brings me on to the gossip about Russian backers and this looks even less convincing so far than the notion of Elliott as Chairman. There is no other detail behind this rumour than they would be paying in roubles. Presumably they are "billionaires" with more money than sense like Roman Abramovic or Alisher Usmanov, although we are plainly not Chelsea or Arsenal. More likely is we would appeal to the likes of Sascha Gaydamak who has played his part in the ruin of Portsmouth. I wouldn't trust Jimenez and Slater not to sell us off to the first bidder who appeared to have the money but Richard Murray spent a very long time and part of his personal fortune as a proper former old-time Chairman to avoid precisely this scenario, although ultimately he sold out to the Mysterons. Trouble is, he now a minority shareholder and could only voice his opinion and perhaps beggars can't, ultimately, be choosers.

Something is definitely going on and we are short-staffed behind the scenes following the sackings and resignations of the most committed and hard-working individuals. They are also the ones who would be most vocal in the event of the club being sold on carelessly by individuals who don't have the emotional attachment or supporter commitment of their predecessors.

Last word on Paul Elliott. I will never forget the reassuring and humble appearance he made at Charlton Cemetery when he sidled quietly up alongside the other mourners at the funeral of former Greenwich schoolboy and Addick, Barry Little whose life was cut tragically short.


Anonymous said...

Dave, the reference in your article to Hulyer is very appropraite - all the board room changes and speculation about backers takes me right back to the 80s. The absence of many comments on blogger sites stems. I think, from most fans not having a clue if this is good or bad!

Pembury Addick

Sciurus Carolinensis Nemesis said...

Daily Mirror "exclusive" all we need to know. I'm surprised tho they took a punt on a not very interesting story at a relatively small low profile club. IF there had been anything in it the mirror would hardly have been trumpeting that they'd broken such a small story, could they?
"Former player spends some time at his first club" hardly national sports pages stuff is it? I'm sure there's loads of charlton fans who have fond memories of PE but if we hang on every word printed in a discredited rag like the mirror we'll all go mad. Lazy papers printing anything that falls in their lap in lieu of any real journalism which becomes "fact" as it gets slavishly repeated across the tw@ttersphere by the credulous.

Wyn Grant said...

I thought that the plan, if it was one, was for Elliott to be executve chairman thus saving on a CEO.