Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Fine pre-season in spite of ownership unrest

Another pre-season victory last night and another clean sheet in the beating of Dagenham & Redbridge at their place. So, we might have focused on beatable opponents but pre-season is all about timing fitness and confidence levels to coincide with your opening match. The fitness would appear to be there and the confidence too having walloped everyone bar AFC Wimbledon who battled back to register the only goal conceded so far in their 1-1 draw. For those schlepping about to see these games there is an evident feel-good factor that we all hope continues into the season and sees us off to a good start.

A good start may be critical to our season given what appears to be going on at Board level. It is very apparent that there is precious little money available. We trimmed our squad early by releasing half-a-dozen professionals but have, so far, only signed two ageing replacements in Mark Gower and Richard Wood. I am not complaining at this point, merely pointing out that we are, as I expected, leaving any significant expenditure to the last minute. That's not ideal in terms of preparation as new players take time to settle in and "gel" but if you haven't got it, you can't spend it.

That brings me to the state of the Boardroom. With Mssrs Slater and Jiminez, it's difficult to say with any degree of certainty or confidence what is going on because both appear to lead very full lives away from SE7 and either don't have the time to inform mere spectators as to what we can expect or simply don't see the need to. As a result we have been living under their rulership like the subjects of an authoritarian regime where no-one really knows what's going on which leads to conjecture, speculation, rumour and misinformation. Most of it, it has to be said is largely negative and overwhelmingly worrying. 

In my view then, we have to judge from what we know has happened and that again doesn't provide a clearcut position. The facts are that we were promoted under the current ownership. Something that was an absolute imperative and something which we have to thank the owners for, irrespective of whether or not the money came from their pockets or those of an anonymous investor who may have since backed off. We also have to acknowledge that we are, largely, all very comfortable with the appointed manager even if there were strong rumours that the owners were not as keen at times during last season - Chris Powell is still here and looks as committed as ever to the job in hand. We finished 9th last season, a position every fair-minded supported would have taken at the start, even if our home form was below par and tactically we were over-cautious early on as we found our feet (not something we can lay at the feet of the owners). We have a squad that we are generally satisfied with although there is an obvious need for strengthening upfront and arguably out wide in the next fortnight.

We also know that senior long-serving Charlton-supporting club officials resigned at short notice last season with unsatisfactory explanations and that they subsequently sought legal redress for the way in which their employment ended. Similarly, a number of long-serving Charlton-supporting club employees were dismissed last season and these too have resulted in unsatisfactory explanations and legal action. Not many of those who left or dismissed appear to have been properly replaced although the club has obviously continued to function even with a very part-time operating boss in Mr Protheroe. Instinctively, all of that is worrying and given the apparent financial situation, the rumours circulating about the behaviour of the current Board in relation to claims and creditors has to be worrying. 

However, if money is so tight that we can't afford to bring in the remaining players we need to compete this season or if, for example, the Board couldn't afford a relatively modest business expenditure without threat of closure, you would have to wonder why they haven't actively sought to sell some playing assets to meet their debts. They have also decided to hand the gate receipts of Saturday's home match with Inverness Caledonian Thistle to long-serving Colin Powell, something that they didn't need to do if they had more obvious and pressing bills to settle which might threaten the viability of the club or their plans for a successful season.

There will be an argument that says the owners (Jiminez and Slater majority shareholding) are caught in a Catch-22 situation whereby they have to sell the club on at a profit and thereby as a going concern and in a better position than we are currently, most probably as a promoted Premier League club. In order to achieve that, they can't afford to sell good players and they have to keep stumping up to fund the ride however uncomfortable or unwilling they are . The big question is just how long they can afford to do that without real success and a serious buyer? There are question-marks over the level of current investment but they haven't yet hit the reverse button despite rumours of behaviours that might support a view that they may be about to do that.


Tony said...

Good summary.
As the saying goes "if its not broken, why try to fix it".
A striker is a must though, and a proven one doesn't come cheaply.
A lot of teams will struggle in the opening months with getting their new players to gel. Hopefully that is something Charlton can take advantage of.
May be worth a punt to back them to win the league, then lay them around October when the others do manage to find their feet.
Will we be seeing a return of the weekend betting thoughts for the 2013/14 Championship season?

Dave said...

Tony - I took too much abuse last time for putting the mockers on. I think Nose Hair and Whose Rack might be more popular topics to copy!