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NEW ARTICLE: My Charlton, Your Charlton and what exactly is it that you want?

So the Winter of Discontent reaches its next stage in a few hours time with a public meeting that the Supporters Trust are facilitating.

Battle lines were drawn last month when this meeting was announced. It was dressed as being in response to continued snubs by Meire to engage with the wannabe representative body, but the underlying reason why this has any legs and a wider appeal than to those individuals seeking greater involvement has been the growing number of disenchanted supporters who (without one singular reason) are simply not happy with how the club is being governed.

Whether this meeting was likely to have occurred under a different guise without the Trust’s public lead is up for debate, but on the eve of the meeting I think it has certainly proved beneficial that most keen parties are currently working under one umbrella instead of the faction split that occurred 12 months ago.

In response, the Club have hit back in a very carefully PR-managed way. Staged interviews with teenagers, heavily controlled VIP meeting and public screening have, depending on what side of the fence you sit, provided improved communications that some were seeking, or tactics that would not have been out of step in North Korea.

I’m sure I’m not the only one going along to the meeting tonight struggling to answer the question ‘What exactly is it that I want?’

It sounds a simple question, yet it is one that I am finding so difficult to answer.

You see the bottom line is although I continue to attend as I always have done, I’m just not particularly enjoying what is ‘Current Charlton’, and I’m going through a spell where I feel I have lost my connection to the Club. It started during the Spivs reign and it has accelerated during the Duchatelet ownership where we are effectively now the English subsidiary of an overseas Network. Whether that’s just a natural progression as my life changes, I don’t know. I do know though it has a lot more to do with identity than it does with results on the pitch.

‘Connection to the Club’ is so difficult to explain. It certainly isn’t a desire for direct or personal involvement as that has never appealed to me. Collective togetherness on the Club’s Aims and Objectives would probably be a better description. Where Charlton is now no longer the sole focus of the Network it belongs to, or that the football management are in fulI control of who signs and who plays for us, I don’t think I’ll ever be at ease with it. The Network angle is a fundamental issue to me.

Away from the overriding Network topic, another question is to ask yourself ‘what exactly is Charlton’s USP?’

London is a capital packed with accessible Premiership football clubs, and in Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs, three of the biggest in the country. Closer to home, Millwall’s reputation will always give them appeal to local teenagers in our catchment area, while Palace with Premiership football and the atmosphere their Ultras create (that everyone seems keen to laugh at), are also proving equally appealing to the younger demographic. In juts over 12 months, West Ham are likely to flood what should be our strongest catchment area with attractive tickets to the Olympic Stadium.

So where does Charlton fit in?

Due to our location we attract a wide range of support, but I think many will agree that our USP in comparison is currently not particularly strong. Probably that we are the nice Club, the family club. One where the supporters have always (in the last 25 years at least) been a valued and integral part of the Club. If we were a Hollywood blockbuster, we would probably be a feel good RomCom. We’re not a Violent offering, and most would chuckle if I suggested it would be Action Thriller. But we are certainly not a European arthouse number with subtitles either.

In a generalisation, we have also always taken more interest and pride in things off the pitch, such as the reserves and youth, or the fantastic work carried out by the Community Trust. The Club has always (until recent years) worked particularly closely with supporters though the Supporters Club, regional groups, VIP scheme, elected Supporters Director, Q+A meetings, targeted groups like Target 40k and generally being very open to supporters ideas and with a clear objective of working alongside supporters. Getting supporters on board and understanding. And it proved fantastically successful and harmonious, leading the club to a level above its natural pecking order place.

cont....
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Comments

  • edited February 2015
    An understanding of Charlton's place in our owners plans. Previously it was assumed that success for Charlton on the pitch (I.e promotion to the Premier League) was to the mutual benefit of both owner and fans - I'm no longer sure if that's the case but exactly what the owner is hoping to achieve, and how he is measuring the success of his project is completely unclear for anyone who supports a club in this "network".
  • I don't want us to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    I want real dialogue and engagement with the owner, where he recognises us the supporters and taps in to us so that we can help resell the club to the disaffected audience his network vision has created.

    In return he has to prove he is maleable. Listen to our scouts on prospective British purchases and recognise that unlike mainland Europe, English football is totally different and should be treated as such - ie his vision may work elsewhere, but not in the UK.

    He has the funds to restore us back to the premiership. It can work, if he listens, learns the errors of his ways and takes us all forward with an incremental vision of the future. This was how we improved - incrementally - each year after returning to the Valley in 1992.

    This for me.
  • I am not sure I care any more about better communication because what we hear is hard to believe these days. Neither do I want the vision explained because events so far make the vision crystal clear, player farming. What I want is wins, continual wins, and I think the current regime does not care about results, and I want them to.
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  • For me, I would like:

    1, A club which is financially secure, so that I am confident that it will be around in a few years time without either:
    - requiring the directors to put their hands in their pockets each year to bail it out,
    - or in some way robbing our creditors (via administration),
    - or some form of desperate 'risk everything on getting to the Premiership' strategy.
    I understand that this is not the case for pretty much any club at the moment, so things will have to change for all clubs and that some of these changes will not be pretty as costs are cut and different ways of economising are found. I believe that, over the next few years, we will see a lot of new models emerge of how to achieve this - the 'network' being one, but change is inevitable because non-Premiership clubs will simply run out of millionaires to fund the losses.

    2, I want the club to be competitive at the level that I feel its size really merits (top half of the Championship) but with a long-term goal of being in the Premiership.

    3, I want a club that does invest in players and tries to play attractive, positive football, whether the players really try - always accepting that some clubs will have more cash than us. I do not care for one moment which country these players (or indeed managers) come from.

    4, I want their to be good communications with the senior figures at the club (though, I admit that I am not informed enough to really understand what form that might be in).

    5, I want a club that puts an emphasis on developing the best young players who grow into first-teamers - even if they will often be sold on.

    6, I want owners who are prepared to show that they do have some consideration for the fans by providing them with decent facilities, so that you are proud to go to - and would be proud to take friends to - a well-kept club, even when the performance might not always be the best.

    7, Frankly, more than anything, I really want a club where the supporters do all they can to give the players, team, managers, and senior officials a chance and do not constantly look for conspiracy theories and 'lies' at every turn. (I am, honestly, not thinking of anyone in particular in saying that).

    To me, this is a very traditional 'Charlton' vision and a vision that both RD and KM have repeatedly set out and which they have put their money where their mouth is to try and achieve, which is why I have tended to stand up for them. That is not to say that they have not made mistakes, but there again, who hasn't?
  • Echo others, i want to be sold on his vision, i want to believe it can work, i hate feeling angry or hostile towards our club but we need more details from the man himself including signs that he is open to change or advice from the success stories of the past too.

    Im not anti foreign owners or foreign players, if anything im what certain papers would call a loony guardian reading leftie but i want to feel like our club is still working towards the best for our club and our fans first.

    Some could possibly say i have been spoiled, as my generation has only known the Richard Murray years & onwards but right now i just don't feel connected to my club, the club i fell in love with, that win, lose or draw i felt proud to support as that love goes deeper then the badge or how 11 players performed in our colours on a Saturday afternoon.
  • stonemuse said:

    Constructive communication with our owner.

    An understanding of his aims and vision for our club.

    Realism from some supporters that this may not happen and that we then need a workable way forward as a group of fans, not knee-jerk 'get the Belgians out' responses.

    Did we have that with the last mob?
  • stonemuse said:

    Constructive communication with our owner.

    An understanding of his aims and vision for our club.

    Realism from some supporters that this may not happen and that we then need a workable way forward as a group of fans, not knee-jerk 'get the Belgians out' responses.

    Did we have that with the last mob?
    No, I have always said I thought they were far worse
  • My first prerequisite is that I want to be able to trust that the Club is telling the truth. After that I can weigh their actions on merit rather than speculation from polarised sides on here.
  • Swisdom said:

    What exactly is it that YOU want?
    From the players
    More performances like the Brentford game. Excellent workrate & finishing. Effort - lots of effort. I can live without skill but I want to see people working their arses off.

    From the manager
    More performances like the Brentford game. Not just because we won 3-0 but what I enjoyed most of all was it was round pegs in round holes. Players in their preferred position. Players who looked like they gave a shit. Players willing to make tackles and blocks. Players who managed to perform for the whole game - I can't remember the last time we had a 90 minute performance and credit should go to Guy for that..

    From Roland / Katrien
    More openness. More communication about key issues. I don't want to know the names of people we interviewed - some might be in a job and this would cause them problems - but the timing of Bob's departure and the speed of Luzon's appointment were remarkably close to each other. This hasn't helped. I know they won't ever be as open as people seem to want but there is a fine line between too much information and too little information - I personally believe we are not far off being in a pretty good place but, without communication we will only appear to be going nowhere.

    From the fans
    More of the Brentford / Cardiff spirit. Less booing. Get behind the team and make them want to perform. There's 15,000 people there and if a few are off key it doesn't really matter - if 14,000 are going crazy it's still a better atmosphere than 14,000 / 15,000 moaning and booing.

    Very good
  • well put afka
    it just all feels so odd
    i'd love if this freakiness was happening at the scum or palace not here
  • Simply for us fans not to be taken for granted.
  • Respect us and not humour or patronise us.
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  • Stop signing over 30 year-olds, who haven't played for months (even though Richard Johnson, did well), where are the young players that belong to a premier club that can't get into their 25 man squad, we had 2 very briefly and lost them, (not the clubs fault I know), but I was hoping that this was the type of players we were looking at.
  • Peace in the Middle East
  • Sorry. As a few have already mentioned, a better understanding of where we are going, and clearer lines of communication with the fans. There have been some (albeit brief) bright spots in the time he has been in charge, yet we have also had a huge amount of disruption and uncertainty.

    Willing to keep the faith for now (with RD), but would like to see some better dialogue and stability
  • Lots of pretty pictures on the outside of the Valley but absolutely no respect for those who were at the Valley 5th December 1992 or Wembley in 1998.
    I was humbled tonight listening to all those fans cite their own background and feelings. It took something special to rebuild our club. And it has taken a couple of Belgians to remind us what was done before can be repeated.
  • A number of posters talking about attractive football being a requirement. In my years of following CAFC both as a season ticket holder and from afar, we've rarely been one of the more attractive teams to watch. Yes, there have been moments but more often than not the Charlton team has been typified by a good mix of honest pros plus a couple of flair players and nearly always one or two that regularly get stick from the fans!

    What also typified us was the professionalism of the players, the togetherness, the teamwork and the fact that they seemed to relate to the fans in the same way that we would relate to them, even in the Premier League days.

    But we mustn't forget those behind the scenes: the communicative, almost friendly, nature of the board and the club's management, the fact that regular fans knew these people if not personally at least by name, all contributing to the unique nature of the club.

    Good article by AFKA and I particularly like the responses of bolloxbolder and swisdom.

    Whether we'll get any of our ideals back under the current ownership, I have my doubts.
  • StevieK said:

    For me, I would like:

    1, A club which is financially secure, so that I am confident that it will be around in a few years time without either:
    - requiring the directors to put their hands in their pockets each year to bail it out,
    - or in some way robbing our creditors (via administration),
    - or some form of desperate 'risk everything on getting to the Premiership' strategy.
    I understand that this is not the case for pretty much any club at the moment, so things will have to change for all clubs and that some of these changes will not be pretty as costs are cut and different ways of economising are found. I believe that, over the next few years, we will see a lot of new models emerge of how to achieve this - the 'network' being one, but change is inevitable because non-Premiership clubs will simply run out of millionaires to fund the losses.

    2, I want the club to be competitive at the level that I feel its size really merits (top half of the Championship) but with a long-term goal of being in the Premiership.

    3, I want a club that does invest in players and tries to play attractive, positive football, whether the players really try - always accepting that some clubs will have more cash than us. I do not care for one moment which country these players (or indeed managers) come from.

    4, I want their to be good communications with the senior figures at the club (though, I admit that I am not informed enough to really understand what form that might be in).

    5, I want a club that puts an emphasis on developing the best young players who grow into first-teamers - even if they will often be sold on.

    6, I want owners who are prepared to show that they do have some consideration for the fans by providing them with decent facilities, so that you are proud to go to - and would be proud to take friends to - a well-kept club, even when the performance might not always be the best.

    7, Frankly, more than anything, I really want a club where the supporters do all they can to give the players, team, managers, and senior officials a chance and do not constantly look for conspiracy theories and 'lies' at every turn. (I am, honestly, not thinking of anyone in particular in saying that).

    To me, this is a very traditional 'Charlton' vision and a vision that both RD and KM have repeatedly set out and which they have put their money where their mouth is to try and achieve, which is why I have tended to stand up for them. That is not to say that they have not made mistakes, but there again, who hasn't?

    My view entirely. I pay c£300 for a ST and half expect to be entertained. Want to come away from the Valley every other week and say yes, we might have lost or drawn that one but it was a cracking performance from the lads and I feel as if I got value for money.
  • Thanks everyone for their eloquent replies, some excellent reading that provide a cross section of views
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Roland Out!