Monday, 18 March 2013

Fear and loathing

The latest derby humiliation was always going to be hard to take but the organisational calamity from Part-Time Protheroe's beleaguered shrinking management team looks like it might have holed the ship below the waterline. The howls of protest from our fans has been the loudest and most numerous in living memory. The response from the Board has been as minimal so far as we have come to expect. 

The promotion gloss has well and truly worn off and we face a nervy month as we seek to avoid a potentially fatal return to League One. I have already said that this season matches the end of the 70's as the worst in my watching memory but it might just surpass that and take the biscuit. Let's consider a few key things...

1) The emotional bond with our owners no longer exists. They are not Charlton fans. Their plan to make a big return on a small investment has had the funding pulled from under it and they are now desperately trying to sell the club on for more than it's worth. They have an arrogant approach to their Customer base and don't see the need to communicate below the bare minimum. The post-match segregation calamity on Saturday being the latest. 

2) We are skint. Without the funding in the club, Spanish Tone and the Lawyer are on the hook for the running costs and it's hard to see them continuing to cough up when the lucrative sale gets further and further away. Administration remains a real threat and worse could be a fire sale to the sort of thieves or conmen who have ruined so many other desperate clubs. The sort of scenario Richard Murray fought long and hard to avoid.

3) We are still largely a League One team. Whilst Jiminez and Slater have worked within their budget for this year and enabled Chris Powell to bring in loan replacements for outgoing players, our contracted squad still looks very similar to last year. That looks just about good enough for the Championship but its not going to get us very far.

4) Season ticket value this year has been incredibly poor. Four wins (only one on a Saturday) from 19 Valley matches so far is bottom-of-the-table stuff and won't have queues forming to renew.

5) Chris Powell is not yet the finished article. Whilst I still have confidence in the manager, he hasn't been able to arrest our home form and there are emerging questions about his tactical nous and his motivational abilities. He has plainly failed to use his substitutes properly on far too many occasions and we appear to have no Plan B in matches.

6) The Club's management team appears leader-less. There is a distinct lack of spark at home games around the ground. We look like we are running on auto-pilot and it lacks conviction. Experienced old guarders have been outed and either not replaced or replaced by so-far anonymous faces. Martin Protheroe's appointment is baffling. A company boss who works one day a week and lives miles away? Jiminez and Slater don't appear to be seen at many games unless they are entertaining prospective buyers and neither are hands-on. 


7) Season-ticket sales look compromised. Price rises (not unforeseen or unrealistic in the marketplace) come at a tough time for the economy and on the back of the pain of this season. We seem to get this right against the odds each year and our capacity to take punishment and come back for more has been impressive but the noises suggest we will lose a good few thousand to pay-per-match at best and others completely. 
  
So what to do? Clearly a new buyer should receive a lot of goodwill but that could be a way off yet and it's anyone's guess how much money they would bring to invest. Jiminez and Slater will be tested financially and are unlikely to trade us up to a challenging Championship side without deeper pockets. The only other realistic option is a change of manager but that would be expensive and risky, given that Chris Powell is still getting impressive results away from home and clearly hasn't lost the dressing room. All I know is that I won't be shelling out over a grand before the end of the season and, like last year, I will want to see something from the owners if I am not to break 36 years as a season ticket holder. To be really honest, I dont need to see millions spent but I would like some transparency and some communication. I will be there in August but I might be buying my tickets the week before the game.

8 comments:

Wyn Grant said...

Excellent post, the worry is that if people drop their season tickets, many of them stop coming altogether. As far as a change of manager is concerned, the average tenure of managers has shrunk since the early 1990s from over three years to just over one year. But there is very little hard evidence that changing a manager makes any real difference other than in the first few matches. Football is a game of fine margins and outcomes are influenced by a number of factors, many of them random.

Tony said...

You have pretty much hit the nail on the head with this comment.
I don't think you will have a problem retaining your usual seat on a pay per game basis either.

ChicagoAddick said...

Brilliant post mate that echoes thoughts of many thousands of Addicks.

Ben Hayes said...

Excellent piece

Anonymous said...

However, if you have been to away games, as I am sure you have, you will have noticed that the team play better, the fans perform better and there is a general feel good thing going on. The horrible, literally infectious, attitude of some home attendees can only have a detrimental result. Some people who sit near me were moaning all of last season, you have to ask why bother?

If people think walking an extra half a mile in support of their club is such an effort, again why bother?

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with everyone else on this one a perfect piece on Charlton that you'll probably not see better this season, other than NYA's summary of Charlton's accounts each year.

I'm sure I will renew, but with a heavy heart. Would love to know what the increased price will be after deadline day!! Do I risk it and wait and see. After the Millwall fiasco, whatever can our "Marie Celeste" board come up with next!

Anonymous said...

Good post, although perhaps a bit harsh on SCP. I think he's still doing a very good job with a mediocre set of players. It's hard to execute a Plan B or shake things up with players that struggle to compete at this level.

Anthony

Geoff said...

Depressingly brilliant, Dave. We've certainly lost that family image beloved of the journo's. It's back to the days of the Glikstens saying nothing, or getting your initial advice that your home ground is closing as you reach the turnstile in 1985.

According to Sue Parkes's explanation elsewhere, the club was not party to the disgraceful treatment of home fans last week. Your earlier correspondent misses the point that it's away fans who are expected to wait and/or do the "extra half-mile". Is he aware how many aged Charlton has (a "family" effect), with all the afflictions attaching to age. When his own knees or lungs stop functioning well, let's hope he recalls the thoughtless comment.

What the club MUST be responsible for, however, is selling a box behind Block E in the East to away fans. That's an indicator of how skint we must be! I moved down about four rows a couple of years after the East re-opened because I was fed up with the celebrations of away fans from those boxes. And they were muted celebrations from decent people, not at all like the suppodedly human pack occupying it last Sat.

I'm havering over the season ticket. Suspect I'm going to give in because the discount matters to a retired person, but I have never been in such doubt.

Geoff