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NEW ARTICLE: Boardroom rocked by a new, loud Voice

Voice of the Valley sellers celebrate a successful day's sales

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Fasten your seatbelts and batten down the hatches.

While the fare offered on the pitch so far has been somewhat lethargic, the backdrop away from it is most certainly hotting up!

Because Voice of the Valley is back to its glorious best, and those associated with it are firmly at war with those that own, or hold senior positions within the Club.

If Mickey Blue Moon and Silent Tone scanned the couple of market-feeler editions towards the end of last season and wondered what all the fuss was about, then Airman’s season opener showed exactly what he is capable of, how ferocious he can be with it, and why previous regimes had always seen the benefit of having him pissing out of their tent rather than pissing in.

Nor should they expect this to be a one-off episode. It is quite clear that the gloves are now off and battle lines have been drawn. The 'Terrible Two' have largely been able to get away with running the club in mysterious silence bar the unfounded whispers of the internet in the last couple of years. Now that Airman’s shackles have been loosened, The Voice is very much going to be on their back ‘twenty four seven’ as our American friends would say.

Potentially entertaining as it is, what does it mean for Average Joe, and what questions does it throw up?

‘Is it Justified or is it simply personal?’

We have seen that since (what is perceived to be) a change in financial input from one of the mystery backers towards the end of the 11/12 season, there has been a huge movement of non-playing staff out of the club (on-going, according to our sources). Some enforced, some voluntary, some long-term fans, some resulting in lawsuits and court orders. What is fair to assume is that behind the scenes of Charlton Athletic has been a very unhappy place to work for a sizeable number of people. Not just one or two, but an ever-growing number who have historically proven to have our Club as close to their hearts as you and I.

That should concern us to the degree that unhappy aspects of an organisation are rarely isolated to just one area. If an organisation is moving forwards, it more often than not tends to be doing so across all aspects and benefiting from a happy workplace. The number who have resigned with no future employment lined up is very telling.

From an outsiders perspective, it appears that Airman & Co do not like, rate or (most importantly) trust those governing our Club. How much of that is weighted by genuine concern for the well-being of the Club based on a solid insight of how the day-to-day organisation is managed and governed, and how much is being driven by personal dislike or vendetta?

That is the ultimate question that Average Joe is having a lot of trouble accurately interpreting. When the picture gets clouded by those that have already long-formulated that they support / dislike of the main protagonists involved, it makes it even more difficult.

Certainly, those that do not trust the board and have concerns about the future of the Club, have had their stance cranked up several notches following Saturday’s ‘bombshell revelations’. Talk of ‘the future of The Valley’ plays right into the heartstrings of the Charlton support given our history, and talk of The Valley’s use and potential moves have dominated the forums since the Voice hit the streets on Saturday, increasing anger and distrust in the current board.

Was it justified ? Well the ‘leaked document’ was certainly a headline-grabbing scoop, that’s for sure. But once you skip through the tabloid-style sensationalism of the lead piece, I actually found the crux of the details more reassuring than alarming.

Firstly, the ‘leaked document’ was effectively a sellers’ sales brochure, and should be treated as such when scrutinising. As the vast majority of supporters know (or suspect) that those owning the club are actively trying to offload it, it is no shock that such a document either exists, or is being circulated to potentially interested parties.

The majority of details from the report appear to be figures from the 2012/13 accounts, and certainly nothing worthy (imo) to carry the ‘explosive’ tag. We are not ‘dancing on the precipice of long-term stagnation’ any more than a whole number of other Championship clubs (particularly those without a sugar-daddy), nor is ‘the growing possibility of a yawning black hole developing in Charlton’s finances that might only be addressed by offloading the squad’s prize assets’ an unexpected or unrealistic action to consider given the circumstance of the Club’s inability to break even.

So that brings us to the ‘potentially leaving The Valley / in cohorts with the Council’ blockbuster, which has generated the most chatter and concern.

But if this was such a blockbuster issue, why did it not feature in a ten column exposé until column eight?

Is it because the sentiment is more newsworthy than the action ? Or because there is absolutely nothing new here?

A sellers’ brochure will suggest and highlight potential growth routes of income to potential buyers to make the offering appear more attractive. With the continuing expansion and regeneration of the Peninsular, is anyone really surprised this would be highlighted to potential buyers?

The draft plans for a potential new stadium on the Peninsular have been in the public arena for around 18 months. It is common public knowledge that Peter Varney was representing the club with the Council and relevent bodies in discussions on the use of the stadium, so there is little new in the knowledge that discussions have been had at some stage.

With the potential regeneration and expansion of the area, all supporters need to be aware that unless our next owner(s) have history as died-in-the-wool Charlton supporter(s), this is going to be firmly on the table as a serious consideration (we'll have more in a later piece). It was probably the main driver for the current ownership regime, but this now looks unlikely to be seen through unless instead of a clean ownership change, Silent Tone finds a new (even more silent) investor willing to fund 'the long-game'.

The real bombshell aspect of the document, were the details of the playing squads individual salaries, which the Voice quite rightly decided not to publish. Looking at the way the team played on Saturday, you wonder if the players had already discovered it....

The Voice is a cracking publication, more than worthy of its £2 outlay, and the latest edition was at its ballsiest best. Like the Voice, I also share the lack of trust in the ownership of the Club, their intentions and concern of the likely end-result. Whether that is replicated by Average Joe, or whether he even cares, I’m yet to be convinced.

But one thing I am very clear on is this season may prove to be a very difficult one in many ways, and the Voice needs to be very careful that when it adds to the turbulence (which it undoubtedly will), it is purely doing so for the benefit of the Club.

Sadly, the likelihood is we will only discover whether that is the case in retrospect. Average Joe has no solid gauge at this point in what is right, what is wrong, what is highlighted incompetence and what is personal disdain.

Perhaps some things do need to be stepped up, and perhaps some individuals do need to be flushed out? Who knows, but I think it’s going to need a bit more than what has been offered so far (on the pitch and off it) to see that gain serious momentum.

As someone that just wants the best for the Club, I desperately hope for Airman and others that they come out of it the right side and the brickbats were both justified and successful.

It will definitely be worth reading though.
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Comments

  • sometimes Dan i wonder why you aint a journo , you write well and its appealing and then your drinking exploits


    top work young man really well written piece
  • Good summary cutting right through the middle ground. If one thing comes out of VOTV it is that it's very unwise to piss off Airman Brown ;0)

  • Thought picture title was: Driver regrets attempting to pay for Voice of the Valley with a £10 note.
  • I can see everyone being searched before the next home and having VOTV confiscated.
  • edited August 2013
    .
  • Voice of the Valley sellers celebrate a successful day's sales

    Silent Tone finds a new (even more silent) investor willing to fund 'the long-game'.

    Hope not, I prefer shorter passes to feet ;-)

  • Excellent summary and a thought provoking piece.

    We are in for some 'interesting' times ahead.....

  • Thought picture title was: Driver regrets attempting to pay for Voice of the Valley with a £10 note.

    Very good :-)
  • You're an excellent writer Dan.

    I did make this point the other week when someone said watch this space with regard to a well known financial reporter doing a story. I'm all for getting a getting details out in the open but i still cant help but worry about the detrimental effect it will have on us getting rid of the current lot and finding another owner.
  • Excellent piece Dan - and well balanced.

    My scales are certainly heading towards 'worried' instead of 'concerned'.
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  • Excellent article which provides balance to all that is being written from both sides of the debate.
  • Very well put.
  • I always knew AFKA was a good 'short' story writer
  • edited August 2013
    Very good article.

    I agree with the main thrust that none of this should be a surprise but when you factor in the near silence plus the disingenuous comments such as in Saturday's programme then both the content and the existence of the brochure are baffling.

    So are the exaggerated claims which can so easily be refuted by any due diligence auditor. The stadium on the peninsular is clearly one of these over blown statements. That doesn't mean it will never happen but it is not in CAFC's gift and it has so many planning and funding hurdles in front of it to resolve that in reality it is no more than an idea.

    The questions are why do TJ and MS feel the need to over egg the cake in this way and do they really think no one will notice? Maybe the first time but after 4 failed DDs you would have thought they'd got the message. They are simply asking too much for too little. Their problem appears to be that they are starting at the wrong end of the pricing equation. They are looking to what they what, or perhaps need, to get out the sale and setting the price at that level rather than looking at what the product is worth and what any buyer is reasonably likely to pay. I can ask £1m for my house because I want that much to buy a yacht but that doesn't make it worth £1m and no one is going to pay that. So either my house remains unsold or I bring the price down and buy a smaller boat.

    So yes, that the Club is up for sale is not a surprise nor in its self a cause for concern but that the board wish to hide this and feel that they need to "exaggerate" the benefits of such a purchase are a real worry.

    To return to my house sale analogy, as long as I can keep up the mortgage payments and fix the gutters it doesn't matter what price I ask and whether I find a buyer of not. But when I can no long do that the house will either fall down or the Halifax will foreclose.

    What we don't know is how long TJ and MS can keep funding the Club. So far, so good it appears we don't know who the loans are with, what the rate of interest or the time frame.

    I think the exit of yet more senior staff is also a separate although linked issue. I doubt TJ or MS care either way about Matt Wright or Paul Ellison. They should but they don't. They have abdicated their management of the Club to others who seem unable to manage people. Losing one senior member of staff could be seen as unfortunate, losing 6 or 7 reeks of incompetence.
  • Good post Henry but are our owners that stupid ? How can they be to think their glossy but ridiculous brochure will fool anyone. I just can't get my head around it.
  • Good post Henry but are our owners that stupid ? How can they be to think their glossy but ridiculous brochure will fool anyone. I just can't get my head around it.

    Me neither.
  • edited August 2013
    Sometimes it seems as though we are happy to burble on about democracy and freedom of speech as long as we don't actually try to make use of it. It reminds me of the day when we were not allowed to know where our nuclear bunkers were, due to them being an official secret, although the Ruskies were merrily putting them on their maps. Those in the football investment business will know there are problems here at Charlton Towels. I sometimes think that all this obfuscation is about nothing other than deceiving us - more mushroom governance in fact. Airman won't allow that to happen and it is my strong belief that history will show him to have taken the right course of action ( whilst earning himself a wage at the same time and no one would deny him that, or at least only a handful would.)
  • I admit, I had my doubts on AB's motives but now sit firmly in VOTV camp. I expect some turbulent times ahead and we need to defend our club.
  • edited August 2013
    Bizarre as it may seem I'm optimistic.

    TJ and MS want to sell up (FACT - the brochure proves that).

    There are interested parties out there (FACT - MS states this and Klienman confirmed it)

    If they leave we can move on and hopefully forward.

    The only, slight, tiny little problems about this are

    1. How much pain we and the Club have to go through until TJ and MS find a buyer who will match their price or the price comes down to a level that a buyer find realistic.

    2. Just who the new owners are and what are they intentions, plans and resources.

    When Varney brought Jimenez and Slater/Cash to the Valley I welcomed them. They had the money it seemed and PV and RM vouched for them.

    But at the same time I asked six questions of them

    1. Who owns the club?
    2. What is the business plan?
    3. What is the level of investment?
    4. What are the plans for the Academy?
    5. What are the plans for the Valley? and
    6. What is the exit strategy?

    The same six questions need to be asked of the new owners, whoever they maybe.

    I've given up on getting an answer from the current lot.
  • Never forget that an American bought the 'old' London Bridge.

    A glossy brochure can get you a long way.
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  • Thanks for writing this piece, AFKA, very much appreciated.
  • Very good article.

    I agree with the main thrust that none of this should be a surprise but when you factor in the near silence plus the disingenuous comments such as in Saturday's programme then both the content and the existence of the brochure are baffling.

    So are the exaggerated claims which can so easily be refuted by any due diligence auditor. The stadium on the peninsular is clearly one of these over blown statements. That doesn't mean it will never happen but it is not in CAFC's gift and it has so many planning and funding hurdles in front of it to resolve that in reality it is no more than an idea.

    The questions are why do TJ and MS feel the need to over egg the cake in this way and do they really think no one will notice? Maybe the first time but after 4 failed DDs you would have thought they'd got the message. They are simply asking too much for too little. Their problem appears to be that they are starting at the wrong end of the pricing equation. They are looking to what they what, or perhaps need, to get out the sale and setting the price at that level rather than looking at what the product is worth and what any buyer is reasonably likely to pay. I can ask £1m for my house because I want that much to buy a yacht but that doesn't make it worth £1m and no one is going to pay that. So either my house remains unsold or I bring the price down and buy a smaller boat.

    So yes, that the Club is up for sale is not a surprise nor in its self a cause for concern but that the board wish to hide this and feel that they need to "exaggerate" the benefits of such a purchase are a real worry.

    To return to my house sale analogy, as long as I can keep up the mortgage payments and fix the gutters it doesn't matter what price I ask and whether I find a buyer of not. But when I can no long do that the house will either fall down or the Halifax will foreclose.

    What we don't know is how long TJ and MS can keep funding the Club. So far, so good it appears we don't know who the loans are with, what the rate of interest or the time frame.

    I think the exit of yet more senior staff is also a separate although linked issue. I doubt TJ or MS care either way about Matt Wright or Paul Ellison. They should but they don't. They have abdicated their management of the Club to others who seem unable to manage people. Losing one senior member of staff could be seen as unfortunate, losing 6 or 7 reeks of incompetence.

    I cant believe a man of your means still has a mortgage!
  • Oh, believe it. Being self employed in a recession and being married to a nurse is not the route to riches
  • Oh, believe it. Being self employed in a recession and being married to a nurse is not the route to riches

    Bugger, you were my last hope for a White Knight investor.

    I can only hope you're bluffing!
  • Maybe the first time but after 4 failed DDs you would have thought they'd got the message. They are simply asking too much for too little.

    But are they?

    The £40m that is being bandied about is presumably a headline figure - just like a transfer fee loaded with add-ons etc. But how would you value a club like Charlton? As a going entity £40m is ridiculous given the £12m revenue and £7m annual loss, but if it included stage payments for promotion to the premier league then it starts to look realistic, possibly even cheap. The team that finishes bottom of the PL this coming season should make an estimated £60m plus in TV revenues (by comparison roughly equivalent to the money that Man U made for winning the PL last season). By contrast QPR and Wolves who finished in last place over the last two seasons made ca £39m each - and that is TV revenue alone. Then there will be a shed load more in parachute payments for the relegated clubs - current estimates are that the relegated clubs will trouser £48m over three years. So if TJ and MS sold Charlton now for something a lot more realistic they could potentially be losing out on over £100m in TV revenue assuming we get promoted and then promptly get relegated. Before we laugh at the thought of getting promoted this season - I don't think anyone expected to see Palace in the PL this season...
  • Something about the way all this has been leaked out leaves me feeling more than a little bit unsettled. Add in a disgruntled ex-employee and a faceless entity(ies) pulling the purse strings and I really dont know what to believe. Realistically we will just have to see what plays out as unless one of us wins the Euromillions (big time) there is very little we can say or do about whatever the real situation is...Personally Im not into second guessing so I will just have to wait and see what unfolds.
  • I wonder if we will ever see the likes of a Dave Whelan at our club again? I imagine that's what we all would want but recent history of other club buy-outs suggest not. Like others, the whole situation is more than unsettling or worrying and yet the vast majority of us are simply not in a position to do anything meaningful to address it. The recent tv documentary about Swansea and the way in which the fans 'saved' and rejuvenated their dying club by joining together to oust the unwanted Chairman leaves me optimistic that us, the fans, may still pay a part in the direction of our club in the months/years to come.
  • Excellent piece, AFKA. As SHG says, right down the middle and we should all ponder what you say. I've got two immediate comments, but they are not necessarily addressing the most important long term issues, they are simply what are clearest to me at the moment

    1. VOTV has presented an external document, obtained and summarised by a national journalist who was prepared to put his name to it. This has conclusively demonstrated that as Airman says "it's not all about me". There is already evidence in the discussion that the level of petty personal attacks has died down as people focus on concrete facts. This is also helped, if that's the right word, by recent departures of CAFC staff. In that sense, the VOTV article is extremely healthy, as good journalism is.

    2. VOTV does not suggest that a move from the Valley is the most explosive element of the piece. However it laid on the table something that was previously hidden or only whispered about. You write that It is common public knowledge that Peter Varney was representing the club with the Council and relevent bodies in discussions on the use of the stadium, so there is little new in the knowledge that discussions have been had at some stage. well I for one missed that; I don't remember a thread on here about it. Now, I and one or two others have heard people in the know saying that something like this cannot be ruled out in the future because you never say never in business. We were not allowed to put that in the public domain, partly because it was so vague that it would have caused a furore prematurely. The VOTV article suggests that discussions with Greenwich Council have been rather more concrete than I for one had imagined. Because of our history, that was a red rag to a bull. Again the benefit of putting it in the public domain is that we have started discussing the pros and cons - and I think that discussion has been conducted intelligently and in a civil tone. Therefore this disclosure does a service not just to us, but to those who now or in the future consider moving CAFC because they genuinely believe it will be good for the club. That thread shows that a great deal of work needs to be done to persuade the fanbase that it is a good thing. They therefore better get on with that dialogue before they make 'impertinent assumptions'.
  • 1. Who owns the club?
    2. What is the business plan?
    3. What is the level of investment?
    4. What are the plans for the Academy?
    5. What are the plans for the Valley? and
    6. What is the exit strategy?

    Good questions, but

    3. It isn't "investment" its "losses" unless there is a clear 6.

    6. Unless we unearth a sugar daddy (someone who is truly minted, loves us and can afford to spunk away a small fortune on a sporting passion) the exit strategy can only be to sell on at a profit to a bigger mug. There is no investment potential in your average football club. The premiership sky millions are for "squad investment" in other words to be spent on overpaid prima donnas and more importantly, their agents.

    We are currently trapped on a path leading to the end of a rainbow.
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