Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Katrien Meire on Jim White's talkSport show - the long list of failure

Talksport's Jim White is promising 'answers from the top at CAFC' on his Thursday morning show (10am to 1pm). He was snapped at Gillingham on Saturday talking to Katrien Meire, so my guess is she will be interviewed and not The Puppet-Master himself (we are only 1.5% of his business after all). She will also see this as yet another opportunity to get her name out there and, presumably, another attempt to right the boat after so many previous failures. 

It's hard to remember the litany of mistakes, lies and failure of the current Regime lead by Katrien Meire. There have been so many but I am determined we don't forget. It will make a handy reference for future owners in terms of 'what not to do.' If I have missed anything, and that's very possible given the volume, please let me know. In the meantime, here's a handy list for Jim or for any callers if she's prepared to face fans directly on the phone. My guess is Pitch PR won't risk her with the clubs supporters.


- The sale of our two most valuable players within weeks of taking over. A side struggling to score goals had it's top scorer, Yann Kermorgant, sold and a decent centre-mid in Dale Stephens flogged off. The folly of both of those has been proven subsequently. In return we got Reza Goochannejhad and Astrit Asdarevic who managed five goals and fifty-odd appearances between them.

- Sacking of Chris Powell the season after getting us out of League One. Powell intimated that Duchatelet had pressured him to play loan players he didn't feel were good enough. Alex Dyer confirmed it after he was subsequently sacked.
- Sacking of Jose Riga after he managed to keep us up that same season. Riga too was pressured to play loan players by Duchatelet, according to Dyer, but he too refused to yield.
- Failure to properly support Bob Peeters when his squad were clearly short of resources prior to January 2015. A decent start fell away with the first injuries.
- Failing to tell the truth about the recruitment of Guy Luzon after being undermined by her boss and believing she could lie her way out of it - she interviewed 20 applicants on a Sunday evening or some such nonsense.
- Refusal to listen to supporter groups or respond to individual fans complaints. Eventually forced to comply with EFL regulations and did so half-heartedly by hiring an agency to respond, call centre fashion, and up the response rate.
- Allowing out-of-contract Michael Morrison to move to Birmingham City on a free. Disgraceful treatment for a whole-hearted and thoroughly competent defensive leader who continues to shine at Championship level.


- Setting a VIP supporters meeting to coincide with a fans protest meeting in Woolwich and then refusing to answer certain direct questions from fans.
- Deciding not to renew the VIP scheme on the grounds that "we don't need the money" (this when VIP members actually pay more in advance than the match-by-match value of tickets).
- That Northstand lounge pass fiasco which managed to upset just about supporter involved.
- False economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service. It's now running a skeleton service and must be close to being halted.
- Cocking up the offer of compensatory food vouchers for West Stand season ticket holders turfed out of their season to accommodate gloating Bournemouth fans in our end-of season humiliation game.
- Condoning the cheap shot sex-on-the-pitch advertising stunt which probably brought in bugger all additional revenue (she would have said otherwise after the furore).
- Closing the ticket office on Thursdays and refusing to sell tickets to fans who arrived unknowingly.
- Cocking up the mailing out of season tickets and trying to blame Royal Mail.
- Deciding to stop disabled supporters from using the main lifts in the West Stand to reach their seats on Health and Safety grounds when they really wanted to avoid them inconveniencing Vista Lounge members (it was ok for disabled fans to use the service lifts).
- Sacking the incumbent programme seller third party without first ensuring an adequate replacement service. Programme sales haven't recovered and the programme itself is in her sights.
- That ridiculous sofa which made our club look cheap and for what? (Subsequently torn to pieces by protesting fans after the Burnley end-of-season humiliation game).
- Being naive enough to slag our older fans off to foreign journalists, telling them she doesn't care about our history and belittling an elderly complainant who had the audacity to imply she might know more about the club than Meire having been supporting them all her life.
- Failing to back Guy Luzon with a competitive first team squad after having done the same to Peeters.
- Publicly backing Luzon a week before sacking 'our Alex Ferguson' (or failing to check with Duchatelet first on his intentions).
- Sacking Damian Matthew along with Luzon, after all Matthew has done for our club, without any adequate explanation.
- Sacking David Martane only months after appointing him without any adequate explanation.
- Appointing yet another Belgian nonentity in Karel Fraye as our manager! The ridiculous prettiness that he was a 'temporary' appointment to try and buy him enough games to turn the fans. His record speaks for itself - truly appalling.


- Extending the ticket office closure to Wednesdays as well as Thursdays. She wants to get everything online and get rid of callers and older fans who don't use the internet.
- Considering options to develop the club shop for flats or the Jimmy Seed Stand for third-party development.
- Attempting to organise a last minute Family Day with bouncy castles in the West Stand car park to put parents and children in the firing line for our first pre-match Protest.
- Smirking at fans and taking a condescending photo of hundreds protesting.
- Belittling protesting fans by saying we were the "negative 2%" when we were clearly far more, even then on the first protest.
- Telling us our Protest was "unacceptable," as if we needed her permission!
- Caught out at a web conference in Dublin saying that Charlton fans were "weird" for having an emotional attachment to the club which is owned by The Shareholder and that she would expect us to treat Charlton the same way you would as a customer at a restaurant or a cinema!
- Putting on a live House DJ in Crossbars on the second Protest day as if that might provide a more attractive alternative! Talk about misjudging your audience. She liked it however.
- The embarrassing email trail with Peter Varney which showed her and Roland's complete unprofessionalism in dealing with a legitimate business approach. It was insulting to see how a hero of the Charlton past and our most successful ever CEO was so badly disrespected.
- The loan/sale of Tony Watt to Cardiff City when we were crying out for goals and heading for relegation.
- The hectoring of the put-upon Fans Forum in their January 2016 tick-box supporter engagement exercise for Meire.
- Bannergate - the instruction for stewards to remove a "We want our club back" banner from a lad and his mum which resulted in them also being removed from the stand in front of thousands of other irate protesters.
- Responding to ongoing protests by erecting steel barriers, bringing in dozens extra Stewards and Police. Installing floodlights in the car park to illuminate filming of protesting supporters and installing blinds at function room windows in an attempt to hide herself away.
- The fabled exit at Colchester of her and the hapless Fraye in the kit man's van after we were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One's whipping boys
- The removal of "Seb and Ben's" flag at the following home match, something that has been a part of the North Lower for many years - fans who haven't missed a game home and away for something ridiculous, like ten years.
- The spontaneous and childish Official Site response to a fan prank that saw Katrien Directorship resigned with Companies House ("on Companies House!").
- The graduate who was allowed to mistakenly show a picture of Alan Campbell on the big screen during a minute's recognition for Graham Moore.
- Following large scale protests at the Middlesbrough home match, the hypocritical "club are extremely saddened by the situation..." email only for that to be followed days later by the contradictory 'Duchatelet Rant' which triggered the resignation of Mel Baroni,  a Comms professional who could only manage 46 days sufferance of Meire and Duchatelet.
- Desperate attempt by Meire to get the Police to take more action to prevent lawful protests. Best she could get was a statement from Scotland Yard, presumably to fob her off, to the effect that the police would take action if they deemed it necessary e.g. they hadn't previously seen the need for any because the protests have been within the law.
- Professionals hired to remove web-links to negative articles about Meire. This has now been done on multiple occasions.
- Resignation of John Little, Safety Officer and of Felicity Waller, Head of Commercial.
- Meire going on holiday to Dubai in early April with the relegation battle at it's height.
- Relegation to League One and the sacking of Jose Riga for the second time.
- The loss of 4000 season ticket holders, the largest year-on-year percentage reduction in the history of the club. 
- Chris Wilder fails to get an agreement in writing to reflect his deal with Meire to become her 7th manager and gets a better offer from Sheffield United in the meantime.
- At the press conference to announce Russell Slade's inauguration as the 7th manager, Meire manages to imply that Peter Varney's approach to acquire the club may have come with plans to relocate away from the Valley. Barney hung her out to dry in the coming weeks and exposed yet another lie.
- Incomprehensible decision to charge fans a £2.50 levy for picking tickets up in person at the Valley. Compounded by a £3 match-day penalty if you aren't there to buy at least two hours before kick-off! She has to remove the £2.50 levy bowing to public pressure but the match-day penalty remains.
- Pope, Gudmundsson and Cousins sold-off to raise £5m to help reduce the operating losses of the last year. Twenty players effectively moved off the wage bill to make room for lesser ones.
- Launch of 'Agreed Behavioural Contracts.' Regime-critical Charlton and former Club employee invited for a meeting with the club to discuss his season ticket application where he was asked to sign a contract preventing him from criticising the Regime on social media!
- Over 5000 football fans sign an on-line petition seeking Meire's removal from F A Council. 
- Meire turns up late at her inaugural F A Council meeting and misses her introduction and 'scarf ceremony.'
- Revelations from fan Rick Everitt that Duchatelet has employed a young Belgian since taking over Charlton Athletic to recommend players for his network of clubs based upon his own computer rankings and from watching games on TV. He has zero professional football experience, no coaching qualifications or anything else! Dyer referred to him indirectly when he was sacked as one of "the computer scouts." 
- Presumably under instruction from her new PR advisors, PITCH PR, Meire emails Rick Everett (Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet) at 6pm asking to talk formally with opponents of the Regime for the good of the club for the first time. The next morning, and before any response could even be agreed, Meire leaks the letter to the press to make it look like CARD are inflexible. 
- Finally, after months and months of unexplained delay, Phase 2 of Roland's much trumpeted Training Ground Redevelopment is announced. It amounts to more groundwork and a modest building for the Community Trust. No mention of the main building redevelopment. CARD believes this has been shelved permanently.
- Following another large protest for the Coventry match, Meire or Keohane instruct Heavy Squad Security Guards to apprehend a young fan as he is leaving the stadium at the end of the game. He is grabbed by the throat and handled roughly in front of a police officer which quickly attracts a hostile crowd. In the aftermath, CARD identify all of the security officers from earlier photos and video and the key ones were all seated in the Directors Box as part of personal security for Meire and Keohane. Complaints and investigations are underway.
- Meire accepts an invitation to appear on the Talksport show on Thursday 27th October....can't wait for this, she's bound to go off script. Hopefully we might get a "shitty shit" rant like when she turned up at a business in football seminar at BT Centre.

You can tune in on DAB radio or 1053/1089 AM. Sky viewers can listen on channel 0108. The programme runs from 10am to 1pm but my guess is she may be on about 11am after a warm-up session. That would give time for a further discussion....


richard said...

I read every word just for the hell of it.

Wouldn't change a thing

Anonymous said...

You could also add that 45 players were brought in up to the end of the relegation season, of which 22 played 5 or less games. Of the 45, only 5 remained at the start of this season.

A small typo in your list - we haven't been relegated to League 2 - yet!

Martin Cowan

Jason Wyatt said...

And Sue Parkes still thinks the sun shines out of her ass

Hungry Ted said...

Superb! Like a prosecution lawyer delivering his closing argument...

Dave said...

Thanks Martin. Freudian slip with League Two.

Bangkokaddick said...

Probably the most succinct round-up of Meire's many mistakes that I've seen. Well done, Dave.

Matthew said...

You had me at Karel Fraye - shouldn't have been allowed anywhere close to a football club. It's a damming list, possible to provide a link to the audio in due course? Live in Asia and won't be able to listen until the weekend

Jon Laysell said...

Thank you for cataloguing this litany of failure. Meire should not be let off the hook and her casual claims that the regime have learned should be shown to be the nonsense that they are.

Sam said...

Brilliant. Although Powell had a full season in the Championship before the Belgians arrived, finishing 9th and taking our play off push to the last game of the season. That to me makes his sacking even more deplorable, as he had semi proven himself in that league.

Blackheath Addicted said...

Great stuff but I think you're being too kind to the regime to list all these events/decisions as failures. Many of them are evidence of how nasty, vindictive and contemptuous - in addition to inept - Duchatelet and Meire have proven to be. Please add in the desperately cynical club statement following Sir Chris' sacking to the effect that 'we want to talk to fans and promise we will but now's not the time as we focus on avoiding relegation'. That pledge was promptly junked as soon as they thought 'we've stayed up, the moron fans will now be content'. They have shown, time and time again, that they are not fit and proper people to own/run our club.

Si Jones said...

Excellent summary

Brian Cowan said...

Minor point, Riga wasn't sacked the first time around, he was not retained after being given a seven week contract.

However, the question still should be, why wasn't he retained?

Anonymous said...

Does this list represent 1.5% of Mr Dutchatelet's failures across his business empire? I suspect not of a guy who has made a small fortune. Then why accept this nonsense at Charlton Athletic Football Club? The friendship with the father of KM?

sm said...

You could add taking so long to appoint a manager after they got rid of Riga for the second time (and that was coming for quite some time). I think 18 other League Clubs managed to appoint managers during the period while we had none. I'm sure that this is largely to explain as to why we didn't get our transfer targets and were late in recruiting others - and why the team's performance has been so disjointed so far this season.

sm said...

Nothing on the treatment of Michael Morrison - which was truly awful.

Dave said...

SM - meant to include that - thanks.

Anonymous said...

Over hyping Luzon by introducing him as our next Sir Alex Ferguson in the press conference.

Trying to encourage fans to stay behind to spend money in their bar and improve the match day experience by advertising the screening of Crystal Palace and West Ham, two of our biggest rivals.

There must be others but this is a superb list. Thanks for taking the time to put it together and I hope Jim White reads it before the TalkSport interview tomorrow.

Marco. said...

Absolutely everything you have highlighted shows how the current regime aren't fit and proper to run our famous football club.
However, my own 'favourite' if it can be described as such is the plaintive cries from KM saying her employer has spent £50M since his arrival at CAFC.
Disregarding the fact it's mostly in LOANS that he's expecting to be making a profit on, I'm pretty sure I could have taken a successful Championship club, pushing towards consolidation in the league and the probability of a top six finish and turned them into a low ranking tier 3 team for much, much less!
It just proves the regime are hopeless at spending money (at best) and not at all suited to running a football club.

Harvey CAFC said...

I live in hope that the regime apologists read and take in all these comments and more. I remember the first VIP Q and A where Meire assured everyone Chris Powell was the manager for the future of Charlton and how he was going to be supported with sufficient funds and top players. I got the feeling that Chris's reaction then and at other events was he realised the writing was on the wall for him and the Club. This is a damning indictment of how not to run a professional Football Club and very well put together.