Thursday, 1 October 2015

Katrien Oops!

Our brilliant young CEO has been blabbing about her job to the French publication, L'Echo. She might be surprised that the echo is now being heard back in South East London but judging by her comments, I am guessing she won't care less. Google Translator mangles it a bit, but you will get the drift so I am not attempting to clean it. It also reads better!

The older fans amongst us will be interested to learn the ground once held 90,000. We always suspected the gates were fiddled. Perhaps we won't be too happy to learn she "fired ten older workers" after arriving or that she "doesn't care about the history of the club." Presumably, that's how she knows about our secret ground capacity.

However, she acknowledges all those complaints she receives and ignores. Just in case you think she might be ageist, it's reassuring to know "Duchatelet was seduced by determining Meire."

"Now you understand why I fell in love with this club ? " Exclaims Katrien Meire jokingly . At 31, she holds the position of CEO of the London football club, Charlton Athletic. Around us, 15,000 supporters of the old guard and their families, bellowed loudly singing the anthem of the club before the start of the match against Hull City , the second division of " Championship" English. In this working-class neighborhood of south-east of the British capital , unable to find more traditional than this venerable club 110 years. Meire shows us a lot in a corner of the stage , behind the sampler . " This is where supporters are scattered ashes of deceased . The chaplain of the club still hosts a ceremony. Do you know that thirty years ago , the stadium could accommodate 90,000 people ? "

But this golden age is over. Late 2013 , the entrepreneur Roland Duchâtelet bought this moribund club, who had just been relegated and was poorly managed. " It was a real culture shock ," recalls Meire , CEO since January 2014. This law lawyer competition was behind her , barely five years experience in offices of international lawyers in the Brussels region and with the European Commission. " The staff at Charlton was bloated, and many of them did not have the required skills ," said Meire . In May last year , she fired ten older workers. The timing was tricky because the players had just avoided relegation.

I warned my staff for weeks it would be a disaster down in the third division . And a few days after lifesaving sport , I separated from a part of the staff . It was difficult, but necessary . I have kept the CFO. We are putting in place a good team. The problem is that we are very close to central London . The good people prefer to work there, seen here , wages are more modest. Sometimes I want to climb the wall. For example, a contributor to our sales department failed to send, to a potential sponsor for our jerseys , a rag erased by way of introduction , instead of preparing complete documents and impeccable. So it was 480,000 euros (laughs). I have often said that I needed a punching bag in my office ! "

Clenched Fists

On the ground, not a goal in sight. The first half? A long series of yawns. But just after the restart Meire is recovering at once. Charlton opened the scoring. "Yes, yes," she shouts, fists clenched, before falling into the arms of a pensioner club featured! Meire has fun. "I'm crazy about football. Since I was nine, I followed all home championships STVV. I always wanted to work in the field of sport and football in particular." She realized her dream by reaching out to Roland Duchâtelet few years ago. "It was still the owner of the club STVV (Sint-Truiden), who was playing at the time in second Belgian division I read that several clubs wanted to seek advice from Jef Vermassen -. A criminal lawyer, shit then - on the sale of . TV rights I thought, I do know that it is precisely Roland my specialty. " Duchâtelet was seduced by determining Meire. He incurred during Winter 2013 Standard Liege - he owned at the time - as "Legal and international relations manager." Barely two months later, he sent into the arena of Charlton Athletic.

"I was not ready, I had no experience in managing a football club, and I had never talked to a player agent. The first months, the pressure was very strong, I do not want to be responsible for a relegation. I struggled. Especially the first few months, I happened to cry. I could not speak at Roland but it was busy and I had ensure that it does not have to endure our problems. Fortunately, the staff lovingly supported me. It may be that Roland had asked them to do (laughs). " "I negotiate myself all transfers". Through layoffs and outsourcing, Meire rose from 150 to 100 employees. She gave a great sweep in this dusty club. "Examples? I can cite many as you want. Previously, only one person managed all food stands of the stadium. There was no signed contract, only a 'gentleman's agreement'. After each match, the person we communicated the sales amount and the club received a percentage. There was no control. "


And suddenly , silence. " Damned" , Meire repeatedly swear ! Two minutes before the whistle , Hull City equalized . "Do your job ! " Screaming fans furious at the head of the players. There is among them a clan of diehard fans , Meire has learned the hard way from day one . "Most of the letters I get are complaints. In some subscribers supporters for sixty years , and who know everything better than anyone. So a lady representative for over 80 years , criticized me because we have changed the mascot of the club..."

When Meire eliminated free tea and coffee for fans during the competition days, many have found it a real sacrilege. "I still always get criticism." What difference does it make to give us some tea or coffee? "They ask indignant. Unfortunately it's important! This is where we are likely to achieve our better margins. " "I should not say it, but I do not care about the club's history. We need the pampering, but not at any price." While the fourth official shows eight minutes of stoppage time, Meire emphasizes that she has no regret for having abandoned his career as a lawyer. "The work was too monotonous. I was sitting 13 hours a day at my computer. This job will also exhausting, but so much more exciting. For example, I negotiated myself all transfers. In football, you see faster results. This is positive. My only frustration? Things are not progressing as quickly as I would like. " "This summer, Roland has invested millions of euros in seven new players. It also has invested 2.7 million euros in our stadium and spent € 16 million in new facilities for academy young. He starts to put pressure on me in terms of return on investment (laughs). Of course I'm aware of. I fear that one day something does not go as planned and I'll be fired. But as I think Charlton can progress, I'll stay. I'm really happy here. "


AC said...

Dave, I think your assessment is a bit harsh. One thing she's right about is that the cub was poorly managed. Surely that can't be denied? And if true, the bit about the catering being managed through a gentleman's agreement is alarming.

It's difficult to understand the point about 'not caring for the club's history'. I undershoot it as macho CEO talk about scrapping freebies like the tea and coffee rather than not caring about the true history (1947..Derek Hales..Selhurst Park...Play off final..etc).

Dave said...

AC - the club was undoubtedly poorly managed by Laurel and Hardy before Roland bought us but they had been making heavy job cuts for 18 months prior to selling, so it's a bit rich to claim she inherited a worse situation. I obviously can't comment on the Catering arrangement but Rick Everitt would know and he is saying that's nonsense. The tea and coffee wouldn't be material either so it all smacks of her bigging herself up. Silly then to add comments about not caring about the history of the club or trivialising an elderly fans complaint. What did Charlton gain from this article? Absolutely nothing.

Scoops said...

Upon reading this part of me hopes they get so 'frustrated' and bored they sell up and bugger off!

AC said...

Fair point re the article - it's all about her.

Anonymous said...

I think that Katrien and Roland are frustrated that Charlton supporters decline to be happy / satisfied with the club being a lower mid table championship club for the rest of its existence. Roland bought the club which is still in existence after T&J ran out of money. What more do Charlton supporters want ?

Charlton supporters don't remember the the 75,000 + attendances but do remember a promotion to the premiership winning team and some good seasons in the premiership. Mixing those things up is not helpful. Apart from the fact that Charlton fell from being a strong team in the 40s and 50s to a weaker poorly supported team due to a general lack of investment and ambition for the team.

The scattering of ashes is part of the emotional connection that charlton / football supporters have with the club. I am not sure that Katrien understands that.

Not helpful either is not acknowledging any mistakes (catering, season tickets etc etc) or the thin squad that is not strong enough for the championship.

I am with Scoops, I hope that both Roland (and Katrien) get fed up and sell on the club. Hopefully to decent owners who have some ambition to reach the premiership. Roland's strategy is not working. A club without ambition will struggle to stay where it is. Charlton supporters, not being respected / acknowledged on top of that will not encourage them to turn up.

Charlton Supporter

Martin Cowan said...

Would be good to read a proper translation. Surely "elderly" fans is really "older" fans - ie those who have been fans for years.

At some point, Roland will sell up and we can only hope that we don't end up with something worse - there are plenty of examples of unsavoury owners around.

Anonymous said...

It's great to be ambitious, but sometimes I do think we have rose tinted glasses.

Forget the free tea / coffee; it should not be that important to us and, quite frankly, if the club believe that it can shave costs at this marginal element then good luck to them.

We were badly managed; I am pleased to see that we now have a management team that recognise the importance of good governance; financial and otherwise.

Finally, we might have once attracted 90k supporters, but let's be honest... we are a small club in SE London with limited success and an expectation that is well beyond the poor set of players that we currently employ. We will probably have our backsides kicked by Fulham tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

I've been a Season Ticket holder since Back to the Valley.
I spent years in the North stand, then the Upper North when it was built and then I finally moved to the East when we dropped to League One, where I remain.
Not once have I been offered free teas or coffee.
What am I missing out on?