Tuesday, 29 December 2015


I bought a copy of Voice of the Valley yesterday but only got a chance to read it this morning. Two highly damning articles from former CEO Peter Varney that, frankly, are hard to comprehend.

In the first, titled "a problem with Murray," he talks about his last involvement with the club when he came back to broker the sale between Murray and Jiminez (Slater and Cash)i in 2010. Varney is very clear that Murray has tried on numerous occasions to taint him with responsibility for the decision to sell to Jimenez (Slater and Cash) and for the subsequent escalation in operating costs e.g. Steve Kavanagh's new contract. He explains why these decisions were Murray's and the Board's alone and goes on to talk about the parlous state of the club when 3,000 or more season ticket holders don't bother turning up every week and how the first team is being neglected which will spell ruin for the club in the long run.

There is then a second piece which is a complete exchange of 17 emails between Varney and Duchatelet/Meire and someone called Demi King between August and November this year. It's an illuminating account of a previously highly successful CEO of Charlton Athletic Football Club, attempting to get 30 minutes time in the diary of Duchatelet or Meire to discuss "an interesting investment proposal ..in relation to Charlton Athletic." 

This is not an unemployed has-been looking for work. It's the current CEO of Kuwaiti European Holdings Sports Ltd who are in the process of a £2,500,000,000 (yes, billion) development of the Swanscombe peninsula. He also happens to also be Chief Exec at Ebbsfleet FC. 

What the exchange reveals is either startling or no surprise at all, depending on your point of view. Frankly I am both amazed and unsurprised. The bottom line is that Meire cancels three pre-arranged meetings at short notice because she's too busy and it's clear from the exchange that Varney is not going to be entertained and they have no interest in hearing what he has to say, even for 30 minutes. We all know how busy Katrien must be what with trips to Dublin for Web Summits with trumpet-blowing interviews with foreign newspapers, but to fail to give someone like Peter Varney 30 minutes of your time is staggering. 

Personally, I have encountered a similar situation at work on more than one occasion when my boss has told me not to waste time with a Customer or Supplier but I have made the decision over whether or not to see them on my own merit. On occasions I have given them the courtesy, if nothing else. 

What to conclude from this?

First, I don't believe they haven't seen him because of any particular advice from Richard Murray. I don't think Duchatelet listens to Murray and Meire only does what she's told.

Secondly, you are left considering why they wouldn't want to hear Varney out for themselves, presumably having never even met him before. It's unclear from the exchange what the "interesting investment" might be. Personally, I would want to know if I were being asked to invest in anything or whether they wanted to invest in Charlton Athletic. It's pretty evident from the exchange that Duchatelet (and therefore Miere) have no interest in either. Varney is obviously credible so why not see him?

My conclusion would be:

1) They have badly misjudged Varney (and the business he purports to be representing), possibly on advice from Murray. That's most likely what Peter Varney believes given the piece on Murray and the emails that follow. However,  why not hear him out irrespective? I don't believe Duchatelet really listens to Murray, let alone acts on his advice.
2) They have absolutely no interest in selling up short-to-medium term. Given he's sold Standard Liege and looking at the direction of travel, I can't believe this or at least that he wouldn't be interested in a view on price  or share? If this were the case, why not shut Varney down in the first response instead of wasting his time over three months and a string of embarrassingly failed appointments?
3) Duchatelet has more fish to fry and has left it entirely down to his Chief Executive. Varney offers to meet him in Brussels in the first email, so it can't be about convenience. Perhaps it's just her sheer incompetence? I can't even believe that one. I mean, she has actually replied or got a minion to reply to most of his emails.

Mind-boggling. It also took 34 days to respond to the first email! This is hardly believable in the modern age in a business of Charlton's size. The initial email was addressed to Duchatelet but Meire was copied and it was her who eventually responded. I could believe a fortnight if someone was on holiday or possibly three weeks but nearly five weeks?


Anonymous said...

My take on it is sheer incompetence Dave. I've also dealt with people like this and there is no other explanation. She could have shut it down immediately if there was desire to meet. Its a small window in to the mentality of this woman and explains much about the way the club is being run.

Pembury Addick

Anonymous said...


All this proves that Charlton are a basket case of a club run by one rich individual, sorry, dictator who is used to getting his own way like a spoilt kid regardless of what collateral damage he does along the way.

From where I sit Murray is on the Board for historical reasons, whether that be financial or other I don't know, but he's there and he's ignored which is plain to see. I don't know if there's "history" between Murray and Varney and to be frank I don't care - all I care about is what's happening to my football club.

Meire is only the "office girl" and does what Duchatelet tells her to do - to call her a Chief Executive is promoting her way beyond her ability range.

Any business should meet with people who show an interest in that business to hear what they have to say. At the end of the day you can either take on some or all of what they have to say or you can ignore the approach. What you should not do is dismiss such an approach out of hand... Only dictators do that - and almost all dictators have their own agenda, whatever that is in this case, and cannot be reasoned with.

I cannot fathom why someone who has made a pot-load of money, who owns several other football clubs (all of whom are totally un-successful...) continues on a one-person crusade with some scatty plan that is obviously leading to the demise of our football club. He has an investment of at least £12m in our club so why would he put that in jeopardy over some scatty scheme to provide Premier league clubs with a supply of junior talent with no regard to the effect on his main investment? It's all very, very odd...

So, where do we go from here?
Well, it's clear that Duchatelet and his female 'mini-me' have no intention of changing direction or listening to anyone who disagrees with their mysterious "project".
The spontaneous demonstration that I heard on the online commentary after Wolves first goal yesterday is a start. That must be built on. The one thing that even dictators hate is bad publicity.
We saved the club once before by taking on the local Council - now we must take on Duchatelet by direct action.
We need to protest before and after games. We need to protest during games. We need to boycott games at the Valley - or at the very least boycott the first 5 minutes of play.

Our club is dying before our eyes. The lack of investment on the pitch and in a decent manager is so obvious that even Mr. Magoo can see it. Some of the current players are busting a gut to try to get results on the pitch - others are just treading water whilst some are just simply not good enough to be in a Championship team.
I feel sorry for the first batch of those players and if they are affected by any demonstrations then so be it - but I suspect that if they could they would be with us!

The only answer is to get the owner to sell up and move on away from SE7 before he kills our club. We need, and deserve, an owner or a group who respects the traditions and ethos of Charlton Athletic FC and wants the club to be successful - not a megolmaniac who has his own agenda, which even he probably can't understand or see where it's leading to.

Si Jones said...

These clowns are like a bad dream at our club. Their groundhog tactics of rotating their shit ideas and clueless staff is sending us to the abyss

interim comment said...

I don't think I have ever been to a game where everyone in the crowd had better ideas on how to deploy the team. The manager is a joke and the fact that they are employing him makes them incompetent. Incompetent people are usually very arrogant and ignorant. If they read this article they will dismiss it due to arrogance and ignorance. There is no known cure for this unfortunately. Time for some real protests now. Stop mucking about with different coloured scarves.

Anonymous said...

Boycotting games that's already been done and that worked didn't it! I'm referring to all those season ticket holders staying away black and white scarves someone's making some money! it's such a shame charlton are a great club A few more losses and we will be cut adrift I was trying to be positive but the wolves game was a personal watershed maybe with Harriot and ventokele back... but realistically we are done for

Dave said...

Anon - think you are a bit confused. We haven't organised a boycott of any game yet. What we have seen is individuals who are not coming anymore because the football's dire. Who cares if someone is making ten bob selling scarves? They have had to source and sell them? There were actually 250 given away free at the Wolves match. Ventekole won't play enough games this season to make any difference and Harriott isn't the answer this season. He may make more of an impact next season as he is already doing at Colchester. As you say, we are done for and we will be again next season unless we get off our arses and do something to change the ownership and management of our football club.