Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Updated tale of woe under Meire's leadership...

Thought it was time to update Meire's Charlton Athletic CEO CV for the record. It's too long for a CV but, let's face it, there is a lot to know about about what not to do when you become Chief Executive of a football club. Hopefully this will be the last update and we can start afresh under new ownership before too much longer.

2014...
- 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.

2015...

- 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 every supporter involved.
- False economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service. It's now running a skeleton service and it's future must be in doubt.
- 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 since.
- 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 pettiness that he was a 'temporary' appointment to try and buy him enough games to turn the fans. His record speaks for itself - truly appalling.


2016...

- 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 (subsequently forced into a U-turn).
- 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. Even that backfired on her because of the transfer embargo slapped on the Bluebirds.
- 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 the late 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.
- Removal of 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 (they head for promotion instead of us).
- 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 in another U-turn 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 continue.
- Meire on the Talksport show in October. Another session of denial, spin and hand-wringing with zero change, although she has visibly stepped out of the spotlight since.
- The sacking of Russell Slade after 21 games and the pathetic way in which it was mismanaged. News broken by CARD as the club took four hours to put anything on their website and then forty hours to tell us Chris O'Loughton was coming in to help interim manager, Kevin Nugent.
- Seven points from nine and Nugent is dumped for out-of-work, Karl Robinson,  who reputedly called us a "basket-case" when visiting as MK Dons manager earlier in the year. Meire subsequently suggested that they had wanted Robinson in the close season when Slade was signed but he hadn't been available.
- Getting-to-know-the-Network expose of the emails from Duchatelet to Powell which show in black and white that Ducharelet was trying to interfere with tactics and team selection. Meire swore on more than one occasion that this never happened.


2017...
- Actual home gates in the first few months if 2017 now approaching 5,000. Less than half of what we had when she re-launched Target 20,000!
- Morgan Fox flogged to Premier-chasing Sheffield Wednesday for under £1m and Lookman sold to Everton for between £8-11m. Robinson given loose change to bring in a couple of League One journeymen and a couple of short-term loanees.
- January chill causes the visit of promotion contenders, Scunthorpe United, to be postponed due a frozen pitch. The club forced to acknowledge that the much-heralded undersold heating laid when Duchatelet reinvested the Kermorgant transfer fee in a new pitch was never actually connected to a boiler, rendering it useless. Match replayed to a smaller crowd in midweek.

- Club expected to be in debt to close to £50m to Staprix when latest annual report and accounts are finally produced. Duchatelet charges 3% interest on the debt - that approx £1.5m pa. As a consequence, he is rumoured to have been looking for as much as £75m to sell the club on, thereby wiping out the debt and leaving himself with a tidy profit. No-one is going to pay that for a League One club that was acquired in 2014 as a Championship side for c £15m. Logic will tell you Duchatelet is going to have swallow a bitter pill and some pride to admit defeat when selling at a loss. Katrien Meire's disastrous stewardship of the club has lead directly to a large portion of that loss. 
- Club at risk of a serious relegation battle and facing the prospect of it's lowest league finish, ever. A sad note to finish on but it could yet be worse.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Apart from this, I'd say it's gone quite well....

Bob Miller said...

And Dave, your point is???? :-)

Anonymous said...

One inaccuracy, over the previous summer Michael Morrison had signed a new contract which potentially avoided letting this valuable asset leave without us getting a fee. So a few months later we let him go on a free anyway (my conservative estimate is he was worth £500k)

Anonymous said...

Actually, to achieve all that in such a short slace of time, is really remarkable, I don't think any other CEO in the country could do it.

PH

Kap Varma said...

You missed raising the concessionary age from 60 to 65 partly justified by "Well we are doing a lot to attract young people, we have to pay for it from some where!" Quote Mandy Myers. The raising of the concessionary age would generate very little incremental revenue.

Brian Cowan said...

As Katrien said on talkSPORT: “We have done well.”

Dave said...

Brian - I am pretty sure Katrien Meire has done very well out of it.

Larry said...

Has anyone been able to find out how much she is paid through the Belgium holding company as I believe she is not on the books at Charlton. In which case as she spends so much time in the UK, over six months. Should she not pay UK tax. Any ideas

Dave said...

Larry - Pretty sure nothing relating to her salary has yet been published, although last year's accounts are due out. Not sure I'd believe what's in that either as she's likely to have been paid partly a local UK salary for tax purposes and part a Belgian salary through one of his interests there. Whatever it is, she's not worth it and let's hope it's very clearly performance-related e.g. P&L, League position etc. You also have to believe he will have been over-generous, as he has been in retaining her in the role despite mountains of evidence that would have washed away any Chief Exec in any other industry.

Brian Cowan said...

“facing the prospect of it's lowest league finish, ever.”
Small point, but the worst finish ever was 21st out of 22 in Division 3 South 1925/26 season.
But we do face the prospect of the lowest finish in 91 years.

Larry said...

I did read a few months ago or heard on podcast that she was paid in Belgium and not in the UK. If so depending on how much time she spends in either country she would have to pay tax in one of them.
Assuming she spends more time in the UK than Belgium, I would assume she must pay tax.
Or do either country think the other country is taxing her.
If she is spending over six months in the UK I was under the impression she had to pay British tax. If she is then she is liable to pay on her income.
I may be wrong but it would nice to catch her at doing something like tax avoidance.
How could she keep her job then
Larry

Unknown said...

clearly KM must be very good at something.perhaps shes paid in the Netherlands?