Saturday, 15 June 2019

Katrien Meire joins Club Brugge - what they should know.

Meire - the weakest link (Part 2) - [Reissued]

The article below was first published in February 2016. It contains a snapshot of the mess Katrien Meire created whilst fulfilling the role of Chief Executive at Charlton Athletic, a position she was woefully under-qualified for. Her arrogance and refusal to acknowledge mistakes or properly apologise made her a despised figure Charlton amongst the fans. We have no idea how she got another CEO post at Sheffield Wednesday but she was released early from that. Good luck Club Brugge.

It's been a vintage Meire-baiting week so far and she has played her part hugely predictably and has probably burnt her new Head of Communications intern in the process. I wrote back in November about her impressive list of gaffes but already that is hideously out-of-date, so I thought I would do her the honour of updating it, just in case Roland wants a handy crib list. Given she is apparently a Lawyer, he may be grateful for some evidence.

- sacking of Chris Powell the season after getting us out of League One
- sacking of Jose Riga after he managed to keep us up that same season
- failure to properly support Bob Peeters when his squad were clearly short of resources prior to January
- 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
- refusal to listen to supporter groups or respond to individual fans complaints
- setting a V I P supporters meeting to coincide with a fans protest meeting in Woolwich and then refusing to answer direct questions
- deciding not to renew the V I P scheme on the grounds that "we don't need the money" (this when V I P members actually pay more in advance than the match-by-match value of tickets)
- that Northstand lounge pass fiasco
- false economies with Valley Express and tolerating ongoing incompetent management of the service
- 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 & Safety grounds when they really wanted to avoid them inconveniencing Vista Lounge members (it was ok for them to use the service lifts)
- sacking the incumbent programme seller third party without first ensuring an adequate replacement service
- that ridiculous sofa which makes our club look cheap and for what?
- being naive enough to slag our older fans off to foreign journalists, telling them she doesn't care about our history and belittling a complainant
- failing to back Guy Luzon with a competitive first team squad
- publicly backing Luzon a week before sacking 'our Alex Ferguson' (or failing to check with Duchebag 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
- extending the ticket office closure to Wednesdays as well as Thursdays
- now looking at options to develop the club shop for flats
- presiding over a new low point in Club-Supporter relations, which takes some doing given our history and at a time when we have the wealthiest owner ever
- 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
- 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
- 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 was so badly disrespected
- the loan/sale of Tony Watt to Cardiff City when we were crying out for goals
- the hectoring of the put upon Fans Forum in their January non event
- Bannergate - the instruction for stewards to remove a "We want our club back" banner from a fan  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 hapless Fraye in the kit man's van after we were knocked out of the F A 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
- the spontaneous and childish Official Site response to a fan prank that saw Katrien Directorship resigned with Companies House ("on Companies House!")

As I said when I finished November's post, what next?


  1. Also allowing Bristol City fans in with as many flags and banners as they want which also included a smoke bomb.
    Searching all home fans including my 13 year old son who is not legally allowed to be searched.
    I was told these searches were for security reasons. Then when i left the game 15 minutes early all gates in the north stand were wide open and no stewards on them. his is what i would class as a security risk. not a couple of banners.
  2. and still no apologies... stark contrast to the owners at Liverpool FC
  3. I'd add to the list the statement in the wake of sacking Sir Chris promising consultation with supporters' groups once there was the time, only to fob us off with a Q&A at the summer fun day. Oh, and choosing to unveil a new vision for the club and supporters at a Dublin conference. 
  4. BA - thanks - how could I forget the Dublin conference. Customers indeed!
Go on, you know you want to....

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Takeover fever as Duchatelet gets real on a deal

I think everyone acknowledges that Duchatelet has the best opportunity he will get to sell the club between now and late Summer following promotion to the Championship. What has become clear in the last week is that he now appears to recognise this and looks like he may, finally, get real on a deal.

The persistent Aussies remain in the frame and the news from last week suggests that Duchatelet may have dropped his asking price from a reputed £72m to £33m plus responsibility for the settling of the £7m ex-Director loans. Fair play to Gerard Murphy and Co if that's the case. Murphy himself has reached out to the ex-Directors in a bid to understand what it may take to close the deal. The Aussies have also hung around in the belief that Duchatelet will be forced to drop his asking price and that seems that they have been rewarded for it.

However, yesterday it became public knowledge that current Cardiff City Chairman and long time football fan and investment banker, Mehmet Dalman, has also made a bid reputed to be in the same ballpark as the Aussies and he is trying to close the deal. The Turkish-Cypriot born business has been in the UK since the age of ten and has connections with south-east London. Whilst no-one would go as far as saying he may be a Charlton fan, he clearly has a reasonable understanding of the opportunity Charlton Athletic affords a would-be investor. 

You have to wonder if perhaps there is another bidder also negotiating behind the scenes. That might complicate and delay things but it might cement Duchatelet's conviction that he has to complete the best deal he can now. Whatever, Duchatelet looks to have enough interest to satisfy himself he's not going to get anymore for the club if the bids are competitive and I suspect they are. 

We have to hope from here that a deal does in fact get done and that Duchatelet has to cut his losses and settle the remaining debt before he shuffles off with his tail between his legs. The real risk is that a buyer is prepared to mortgage some aspect of the clubs future to meet Duchatelet's outstanding debt or that he retains any interest in the club or its' primary assets. 

One thing that does become clearer is the ongoing delay in signature of a contract extension for Lee Bowyer and his managerial team. Presumably, Bowyer has been aware of the latest takeover interest and understands that Duchatelet may be keen to leave that to prospective new owners. They may have even asked for that and I suspect it suits Bowyer who may feel he has a better chance of getting the right deal from anyone other than Duchatelet. If I were close to buying the club I would want the additional coup of announcing that Bowyer has backed me by signing a new deal for me and not Duchatelet.

Duchatelet's unique ability not to be able to compromise may yet scupper any sale but if it were to go ahead we might expect a long-awaited series of big positives for the club. There would be an outpouring of goodwill for the new owners. If they tread carefully and thoughtfully, they can easily maximise that goodwill to significantly boost season ticket and commercial revenues ahead of August. With Bowyer committed to the club and a reasonable increase above the Duchatelet budget, I believe we could realistically expect to survive this season in the Championship, learn some lessons and then seek to be more competitive in 2020-21. That must be the aim of any new owner I am sure the supporters would give them full backing if we can stick to that blueprint. 

In the meantime, let's all hope and pray that our nightmare ends soon and we can begin the healing process and look forward to a long overdue upturn in the fortunes of our club. 

Friday, 7 June 2019

No improved offer for Bowyer

Another rambling Duchatelet missive was posted on the Club's website this afternoon. It updates on the general state of the club, the implications of running it in  the Championship and negotiations on Lee Bowyers contract as well as a possible takeover. I will take the topics one at a time in order of what I believe was important to Duchatelet in putting this out.

Lee Bowyers' Contract - Duchatelet tells us that the club first spoke to Bowyer about a contract extension "earlier in the season." Obviously live to supporters widespread concerns that it wasn't done early enough or with enough determination to get it over the line, this is a poor explanation as he goes on to say they triggered an extension clause in Bowyer's contract "in May." Duchatelet makes it clear that this clause enables his contract to be extended and states that "he needs to agree this for his contract to be extended as per the current agreement." That tells you Duchatelet is not offering him any improvement on terms which were agreed when he had no track record and was a fledgling League One manager. It ignores promotion and everything that Bowyer and his team have done to achieve that against all the odds. I believe this will be the sticking point with Bowyer and who can blame him?

Operating Costs/Budget for the Championship - Duchatelet repeats what he has said before in that he intends to cut the operating losses further and that "operating on a small budget will limit our chances of promotion, which are already obstructed by large, unsustainable overspending by some other clubs in the division." They won't limit our chances Roland, they will prevent us from competing at the top end of the table and we are very likely to follow Rotherham's relegation battle following their promotion from League One in 2017-18. He goes on elsewhere in the statement to say that "it has become unaffordable for nearly anyone to own a football club in the Championship." What he means is the level of competition to win the hundreds of millions of Premier League money is such that you have to gamble and invest heavily to do so and take some risk. As one of the wealthiest owners in the Championship he could do this but clearly isn't interested in taking the risk. That's his choice and good luck to him - he has already admitted he is no longer interested in football. At least it's out in the open now if you didn't believe it before. All that hot air previously about being prepared to invest in January if we were handily placed has been well and truly exposed. He never expected us to be in that position because he wouldn't invest sufficiently in the Summer to support it and it would never be a problem come Christmas. He really must be torn over Bowyer's promotion from League One.

Sale of the Club - Very interesting to hear him state that "following the win (at Wembley), I was filled with hope as one of the parties interested in buying the club wanted to move forward quickly to complete the purchase." Presumably, this is still the Aussies given they were at the match and there is still no smoke on any other credible buyers who have made anywhere near as much progress. 

He then goes on to say he is frustrated because the long understood issue of Directors loans has not been easy (or quick) to resolve. He names and thanks four former Directors for having agreed their positions and by exception calls the others out. I understand they are owed around £2.6m of the £7m at stake and are presumably less willing or unable to accept  the proposed buyout. David White is one of those owners Duchatelet thanks but he has been quick to Tweet that he's had a phone call asking if he was willing to discuss his loan and he agreed but nothing else has happened. Either Roland is once again misinformed or he's telling porkies. 

The irony here, of course, is that Duchatelet himself is holding out for as big a price as he can get for the club but expects these smaller fish to take what I assume will be sizeable losses on their loans. He then makes the point that the high cost of land/assets in London has made it hard to conclude a sale. What he doesn't say is that the price he has been trying to get for the club (the assets) is hugely more than what he paid for them in 2014 and suspiciously close to the debt he has wracked up in running the club rather than simple land/asset inflation. He calls the land/asset price "a specific issue" which sounds very much like it remains unresolved and, as such, is a much higher hurdle in the sale of the club than any remaining Director's loans.

Ongoing dig at Peter Varney & Co - He really can't help himself can he? He has to have a go at someone in every statement. Having already said that he "continued to pay for everything...despite the way the staff, my friends, my family and I have been treated by individuals who claim to act in the best interests of the club," he then goes on to say that the "first candidate for buying the club," pushed by Varney, Chappell and Everitt was the owner of Ebbsfleet (badly worded in his original to suggest that might be Rick Everitt!) and that it was debatable that they would "have been the right fit for Charlton." 

The fact is, as far as I am aware, that Peter Varney couldn't get any air time with Lord Duchatelet as Meire blocked him at every turn so perhaps it is debatable if Duchatelet ever heard them out. The email trail over several months was exposed ages ago and it was clear that Meire insulted Varney by not treating his approach with the seriousness it deserved and by blocking his group from direct communication with the Organ Grinder. Richard Murray poisoned the water here for Peter Varney, even if Varney was acting on behalf of the actual buyer. The notion that Duchatelet gives a toss about the right fit for Charlton is laughable. He would sell the club to anyone who would meet his inflated asking price. As for Varney and Co not being the right fit, Duchatelet is presumably typically uninformed that Varney and Co ran the club through the most successful period in its history in the Premiership. I suspect Murray took all the credit for that when briefing Duchatelet initially.

Finally he ends on an embarrassing "let's try to win games and enjoy those moments at the Valley." I say embarrassing because he clearly won't be part of it having not seen a game at the Valley since October in the year of our Lord 2014. It also sounds like he isn't expecting his team to be able to win many games away from the Valley with its' impoverished squad. 

The next step towards the cliff edge will be Bowyer accepting a better offer elsewhere. If that happens, Roland Duchatelet will have a much bigger problem on his hands than being unable to sell the club. 

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Dithering Duchatelet

We have been saying it for months now that the club's immediate future is at risk given the lack of certainty about retention of the management team and key players.

Lee Bowyer has made some reassuring noises indicating he is confident his contract will get sorted and his quotes have all been forward-looking. However, until he has committed on the dotted line there is a risk his head could be turned. Derby County are being linked with Bowyer on the basis that Frank Lampard may be off to Chelsea. Derby are a similar sort of club to us but they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League and their owners have undoubted ambition that Duchatelet lacks. Bowyer would see this as a bigger opportunity than the ham-strung job he currently has at The Valley. It may just be paper talk but it will give Bowyer more bargaining power and if he is approached it would be a tough decision to turn down.

What might persuade Bowyer to commit to Charlton was if he could see the club making the effort to secure the likes of Bauer and Aribo but neither of those deals have happened yet and Bauer has been clear that he was extremely disappointed not to have been approached about new terms much earlier. Equally big clubs are being linked with both players and money may well talk. Bowyer seems to already have acknowledged he will be fighting with his hands tied behind his back next season because of his relatively small budget.

Jonny Williams has already been released because his full Palace wages are clearly unaffordable and there was even a rumour suggesting Middlesbrough were interested in Taylor for £2m. You know that the Old Scrote would grab at that if offered.

It may just be over a week since the play-off final and players will be holidaying, but surely Duchatelet must move soon to start confirming the shape of the management team and the nucleus of the squad before he is out-manoeuvred. It probably doesn't help that he still has no Chief Executive driving these sorts of discussions here in London but that's his decision and after the shambles of Katrien Meire, he may just be enjoying a quieter life with no-one here to goad the customers.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Meire the Liar quits

In another typically desperate piece of Katrine Meire self-publicity (please let it be the last), the unemployed feminist activist has announced that she will be returning to Belgium to look for work having failed to secure another lucrative position she wasn't qualified for in the UK.

Her "I'm still available" piece complete with PR 'me working' image, jokingly had her saying she managed to negotiate her Brexit within 3 months compared to the government's 3 years. Not sure what she had to negotiate given she was sacked in February. All she needed to do was get on the train. However, her comparison with an inept and useless government Brexit negotiation was fitting.

Trying to maintain a stiff upper lip whilst getting her point across that she is still, still available, she ends by telling us that it's not goodbye but a see-you later. Not if we see you first, you witch.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Oh joyous day!

Sunday 26th May 2019 - possibly the most important day in the 114 year history of Charlton Athletic Football Club. Forty thousands Addicks supporters made their way to Wembley yesterday daring to believe that Lee Bowyer's side could emulate that of the 1998 play-off heroes under Alan Curbishley. Thousands more filled the pubs and living rooms of south-east London with the same hopes and fears.

When this season started at The Stadium of Light, Lee Bowyer was unable to field a full substitute bench because he simply didn't have the number of players required. We were several short and yet we matched newly-relegated Sunderland that day and felt hard-done-by settling for just a point in the final minutes. Sickening then that Sunderland netted a last-gasp winner to start Bowyer's season with a defeat. Some then suggested that we would get our revenge come May with the last game of the season in a play-off final against the Makems. We all saw the history and the possibility but very few really believed that.

Throughout the season Bowyer's side have battled and bounced back repeatedly from setbacks, to the point that we were on a decent run prior to Christmas and were in the long-sought after position of being in contention come the January transfer window. We now hoped against hope that Duchatelet would be true his previous word about investing in a promising January position to support a serious promotion bid. Those words were several years old and times have changed. Instead, Lee Bowyer had to swallow hard as his joint top scorer, Karlan Grant, was flogged for a £1m and he was denied a replacement. With Nicky Ajose also having been removed from the wage bill, we instead had to settle for third choice Gills striker, Josh Parker. 

Predictably, we stumbled a bit in January and thoughts of promotion were dropped from the mind. Bowyer, however, continued to talk up our chances and players again began to grind out wins against the odds and reassert themselves as play-off hopefuls. That we maintained that until the credible opposition fell away was inspiring and Charlton fans got behind Bowyer and his team like almost nothing before. Away numbers picked up significantly and demand at home increased until the unbelievable surge in demand for the play-off second-leg at the Valley which saw us pretty much double the attendance of last season's home play-off leg to 25,000. Not only that but we still managed to win through despite being outplayed in that game in an atmosphere I have been reliably assured was the best ever at the Valley (in living memory).

So to yesterday again and the opening few minutes in which we conceded the softest ever goal from a howler that will be remembered for generations to come. It was a shuddering moment for the Charlton faithful and a cruel, cruel blow for Dillon Phillips who has been outstanding this season. Strangely though, I felt inspired by it that Phillips would have the last laugh. That's so often the way these things work out and so I had to sit back and watch it play out.

I was not worried about Sunderland as an attacking force prior to the match. They looked very light up front and any threat they had appeared to be from midfield. They looked confident and sure-footed for about twenty minutes after taking the lead (without touching the ball) but after that Charlton found their feet and began to dominate the possession and the play. Before half-time Lyle Taylor managed a yard of space on the right and poked a low bending cross behind the Makem back-line which arrived for Pratley and Purrington. Pratley wasn't able to reach it but Purrington was and he knocked in his first ever goal to atone for Phillips' bloomer and put things back on an even keel. The relief was palpable and it visibly lifted the Reds.

Suddenly the Sunderland fans were no longer so loud. Charlton fans found their voices and a bouncing rendition of the Allez, Allez, Allez song saw us able to leave the field at half-time with our heads high. I was confident we would win in the second-half and we resumed where we left off. Phillips made a couple of smart saves in the second-half and although we weren't creating loads of chances, we were dominating possession and passing and moving much better than Sunderland. This has been the trade-mark of Bowyer's side.

The second-half flew by and I was beginning to contemplate extra time when my man-of-the-match, Josh Cullen. crossed deep from the left towards the back-post. Jason Pearce's downward header was prodded out but only to Patrick Bauer who hammered it home off Flanagan to finish the tie and give us everything we had hoped and prayed for. No time for any panic. No time for even the threat of an equaliser. Lee Bowyer asked the fourth official " how long?' and was told "five seconds." 

The celebrations were brilliant. The prize may have been decidedly lighter than that in 1998 but you wouldn't have known it and as I said at the start, it could just prove to be the biggest ever if it encourages reluctant seller Duchatelet to finally cut his losses and move on. His window will likely be short because unless he invests heavily we are likely to quickly look like a League One side again playing in the Championship. That's not to say Bowyer might not continue to over-perform but this side won't threaten the Championship and we are almost certain to lose a number of the higher earners who are out-of-contract and free to negotiate more lucrative deals. 

I was delighted to spot Andrew Muir and Gerald Murphy and guests prior to the match. Not sure they had flown half-away around the world at considerable time and expense just to see the club they once had hopes of acquiring. Whatever the state-of-play, they must still harbour ambitions....

Finally, we should spare a thought for the Sunderland fans who were once again hugely respectful and dignified in defeat. They were as gracious as they were in 1998 and I sincerely hope they walk League One next season (just like they did the Championship in 1998-99). We just need to avoid changing places with them (which we also did that year). 

In the meantime, please, oh please Roland, wake up and smell the coffee. Your best chance to cut your losses is between now and probably October. Get real on a sale price and do a deal so you can move on and maybe enjoy your dotage.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Charlton fans steal the show

A battling, if disappointing display from Lee Bowyer's boys on Friday secured a play-off final against Sunderland at Wembley next week. That was what 25,000 people at The Valley expected on Friday. However, what no-one expected was the spontaneous pitch invasion that followed Tommy Rowe's final penalty miss for Doncaster Rovers. 

Sky's cameras captured it all as thousands of fans swarmed onto the pitch from all sides, including one wheelchair fan who was equally determined not to miss out. Given the damage done to our fan-base since Duchatelet took over in 2014, this was a remarkable sight. Lee Bowyer's battling side have really struck a chord and in recent weeks the demand to see them play has been growing but even allowing for that, what we saw on Friday told us more than any of us could have hoped for. In spite of Katrine Meire's war with the fans and Duchatelet's complete disinterest in anything to do with the football side of the club, the numbers of those who carry Charlton in the hearts has remained strong. The dire football of recent years, the hopeless numpties forced on a succession of under-supported managers and the disdain with which fans have been treated hasn't materially broken the bonds with our supporters. Gates may have continued to fall and general interest been in steep decline, but given hope and something to be proud about, supporters have returned in impressive numbers. 

More importantly, it says something significant about the potential of Charlton Athletic Football Club. Something Duchatelet has failed completely to understand or even been tempted to engage in. It's too late for him, but prospective new owners should see a huge commercial opportunity to drive this club forward. Bowyer has achieved what he has in spite of Duchatelet. Imagine just what may be possible with progressive, knowledgeable owners with a modicum of ambition and reasonable financial support. 

I am very conscious that my posting over the last couple of years has been increasingly depressing given the state of affairs we have had to reflect on and for me the hidden damage was potentially the biggest problem of all. Friday's outpouring after Tommy Rowe's penalty miss suddenly revises all of that and should give us all massive hope. Losing at Wembley could prove disastrous if Duchatelet remains at the helm longer term - which seems very likely - but winning could just make Duchatelet realise that he may not get a better opportunity to sell the club and that he should look very seriously at the offers he has been made to date. We can but dream.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Predictable Duchatelet falls for CARD trick

A few weeks ago a delegation from the Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet (CARD) managed to get a meeting at the Belgian embassy in London with official, Alain Leroy. The meeting was ostensibly to complain about the mismanagement of CAFC by Roland Duchatelet. The CARD statement following the meeting was innocuous enough given that there were very low expectations that the Embassy officials could or would seek to do anything as a consequence. 

In particular, CARD made the point that M. Leroy was relatively well informed about events at Charlton (more so than Duchatelet) concerning the reneging on bonus payments to lowly paid staff and the ridiculously notion proposed by Duchatelet that the EFL should purchase the club from him. The CARD statement went on to say that M. Leroy said he would make officials (local and regional government as well as the police) in Belgium aware of the meeting but was clear that they would not interfere in what was essentially a private matter between Duchatelet and the clubs' supporters. That was very clear and, I think, recognised by Charlton supporters who wouldn't have expected any more.

Roll forward to yesterday and the latest club website rant from Duchatelet. Bemused is probably the best word to describe's Duchatelet's piece entitled "information regarding a meeting with the Belgian Embassy." In another very weird statement from The President, he appears to tell us nothing more than we already knew and actually includes the CARD statement which explains what the meeting was about and the outcome. It begs the question, what was Duchatelet trying to achieve here in the week the club focuses on the most important game since he took over?

I wish I could give an obvious answer but I can't. His statement adds nothing to what's already happened and offers no conclusion other than the Embassy haven't taken any action against him (which CARD acknowledged they wouldn't). I am left with the odd notion that Duchatelet was, once again, piqued by CARD's audacity and a little embarrassed that the story broke in Belgium and felt that he needed to respond or be seen to have been out-manoeuvred again by CARD. Sending his Belgian Gofor to the Embassy to determine what had already been openly reported was a little desperate. It's just that having nothing more to add exposes Duchatelet's childish need to try and score points, even when he cannot and his response simply makes him look evermore the idiot we know he is. De Truck may have met someone more senior than Alain Leroy, which will have given Duchatelet some sort of satisfaction, but it doesn't change the story.

Meanwhile, Lee Bowyer and his side will battle to win a lucrative Wembley play-off this week that will help Duchatelet cut his operating losses this season (by £1-2m?)and maybe restore the club to the division we were in when he bought us. What are the odds the child-pensioner is planning to take the credit for Bowyer's success? Perhaps he will be able to turn his refusal to replace Kim Grant in January into a positive? By then he might also be reflecting that he has lost the man responsible for the success by failing to extend his contract in good time. If Bowyer does end ups signing, I really hope he leverages his position hard...

Monday, 13 May 2019

Woking 1 v Welling United 0

Ultimately a day of disappointment for Wings fans who travelled to Woking in numbers to see their side throw the dice one last time in their bid for promotion. I was one of approximately 800 who gathered on the narrow concrete terracing down one side of Woking's ground hoping to see the Wings reverse two earlier 1-0 defeats at Woking this season in both league and F A Cup.

Sadly, it wasn't to be. Welling stood up to the challenge and took the game to their hosts in the second-half but they were chasing the game by then to a superbly flighted first-half free-kick which had beaten the wall and stretched beyond the fingertips of the flailing Dan Wilks in the Welling goal.

Chances were few and far between for both sides but Wilks made more saves and Welling were limited really to two real goal-scoring chances, one in each half. Before Woking took the lead, Bradley Goldberg had a chance after capitalising to seize possession in the box and curl a shot beyond the Woking keeper only to see it bounce off the inside of the post and back into his arms. In the second-half Danny Mills, for once dwarfed by three massive Woking defenders managed to break clear and drive a fierce low shot which was well-saved. 

Woking's ground was a surprise and the size of their impressive stand behind one of the goals spoke of ambition and money. The rest of the ground reflects years of development and slow growth but with close to 5,000 fans packed in you could see them making a fist of League 2 if they were to make it. It was a reminder too that the National League is just that and involves long away trips to the likes of Gateshead and Hartlepool and you are facing sides with real league pedigree (Leyton Orient) and/or ambition and money (like Salford FC) who secured a fourth promotion this weekend in five years. 

So, as we made our way back on the train we were left to think of next season and a continuing ability to sup ale on the terraces during the game. Not something you can do in the National League. Small comforts and all that....

Before kick-off we watched Charlton romp to victory at Doncaster but as always with the Addicks we managed to leave a question-mark hanging over the result by conceding a late consolation when we should really have settled it with a third. I am sure the lads will settle the tie on Friday but we have to score first to kill them off.