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Latest Katrien Miere article (Evening Standard)

Blimey, she's in the news more Taylor Swift these days !

http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/katrien-meire-ive-had-frightening-abuse-from-charlton-fans-but-i-love-leading-role-10131362.html

Katrien Meire, Charlton’s chief executive, can smile again. Six weeks ago her club were 20th in the Championship but five wins in six games has seen them rise to 11th.

“I am very happy,” says Meire with a loud laugh. “Okay, in January, we had to dismiss the manager, Bob Peeters, and bring in Guy Luzon. But we know we made the right decision. Now I am really enjoying myself.”

Her mood contrasts sharply with how she felt on the night of January 17 as she returned home after a 5-0 defeat at Watford. It was Charlton’s 10th match in a row without a win and added to a sense of anger among fans, who were unhappy their team were already on their fourth manager in a year since the takeover by Roland Duchatelet. Clearly, all was not well but what happened that night shocked Meire.

“I always take the train when I travel to away games and I always travel on my own,” says the Flemish-born lawyer. “So I was alone on the way back from Watford. There was a carriage full of Charlton fans. There were a couple of drunk fans who came up and started picking a fight with me.

“When I got off the train, people were screaming in my face. Obviously, the fans were really upset because they wanted Alan Curbishley back as a head coach and we had brought in Luzon with no Championship experience. I know not all Charlton fans are like this but this was not nice. It was frightening.”

She says that incident had been preceded by “a lot of hate emails saying we were ruining the club, that we didn’t know what we were doing”.

Meire has been at Charlton throughout the Duchatelet era and is one of only a handful of female executives in English football. In the top two divisions the only women in similar positions are West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady and Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne.

“I had heard that, in English football, there was a time when women were not allowed into the board room but I don’t feel I am being treated differently,” says Meire, 30. “People are quite receptive to the idea of a woman chief executive. However, sometimes when I go to the boardroom of the away club, the home club chairman comes to the table and starts talking to the guy in the suit because he thinks he’s the chief executive. Sometimes we take sponsors with us and the chairman comes up and says, ‘your club is doing well,’ and the sponsors say, ‘it’s not my club!’”

Charlton is Duchatelet’s club, one of four he owns across Europe. What has concerned fans is that the tycoon appears to have converted Charlton into the reserve team of another of his sides, Standard Liege. Players have come on loan from the Belgian club and Luzon was Liege’s manager before he left last October.

“I know this obsession with Standard Liege,” says Meire with a sigh. “This criticism started last year because we brought over players who were not of the right standard.

“But look at the players we brought in this time; Tal Ben Haim, the defender, is doing great, Yoni Buyens is playing every game and scored his seventh penalty this season, he hasn’t missed one yet, Then there is Tony Watt and Frederic Bulot. All of them are in the first team, all starters and doing well. Based on the last six games, we are the best performing team in the Championship. We have scored three goals consistently in a game. That is very exciting.

“I understand some of the criticism but look where we were last year and how we have improved with the players we’ve brought over. In the end, what you want is good players for Charlton. It is irrelevant whether they come from the network.”

So how does Duchatelet’s group of clubs work? “The network comes into play if a player is not being picked for a certain team at Standard Liege,” says Meire. “We give him a new life at Charlton but only players we think will work here. It makes my job easier getting players. Apart from that, we’re separate.”

Duchatelet had long wanted an English club and weighed up Fulham before Shahid Khan’s takeover in the summer of 2013.

“The idea was to buy a club in London because London is attractive for everybody: investors and players,” says Meire. “We visited several clubs including Fulham but they were still in the Premier League and the price was a bit too high.

“When we were here at Charlton the first time and walked round to see the condition of the stadium, we were told the club didn’t have money to repair the ovens in the kitchen. It was really very weird that you don’t have a couple of hundred pounds. Most of the players were at the end of their contracts when we took over. They just didn’t want to invest in players any more.”

Duchatelet funded losses of £6m last year. Meire says: “This year the loss will be £5m with player acquisition of £4m. In the summer, we will invest more than £1m in the facilities including a new training ground. This is a long-term project. But the fans need to be realistic because our budget is the third lowest in the Championship.”

Fans might have warmed to the Belgians more if Chris Powell, manager at the time of the takeover, was still part of the plan.

“We had agreed heads of terms on a new contract with him and his staff. But, after we lost the FA Cup quarter-final at Sheffield United and with the pressure of relegation [Charlton were then bottom], we decided to dismiss him because it wasn’t working. He is a great hero. But people need to understand, the owner and I need to be able to work with the manager. It is the most important relationship at the club.

“[Sacking Powell] was very hard for me. He knew it was coming. You don’t want to do it with somebody so nice.”

Meire is confident that the arrival of Luzon will mean the end of the managerial merry-go-round. “Guy has a contract until the end of next season and I really see this working. I have a good relationship with him.”

But what the fans would like is a relationship with Duchatelet. The Belgian hardly visits and rarely meets supporters or the media but Meire says: “The fans don’t understand that, apart from having several clubs, he is a worldwide manufacturer of microchips for cars, one of the best performing companies on the Belgian stock exchange. He simply doesn’t have the time everybody claims he has. He does not see games live but he does see them all via a live stream.”
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Comments

  • Don't see anything wrong in any of that, Shane the camera wasn't rolling when she got off the train and we could have seen who thought it was acceptable to scream in her face,

    The obsession bit with SL is quite funny
  • Interesting they looked at Fulham, wasn't aware of that. That would have been around 7-8 months before they bought Charlton, and (I assume though what she says kind of disputes that), before KM started working for RD ?

  • Good to hear that the mad and evil Roly is still connected to humanity via his "live feed".

    God help us all if that breaks down.

  • Interesting they looked at Fulham, wasn't aware of that. That would have been around 7-8 months before they bought Charlton, and (I assume though what she says kind of disputes that), before KM started working for RD ?

    Think KM did work for RD before she became an employee.

    The interest in Premiership Fulham indicates the probable availability of substantial funds for football related spending.
  • "we will invest more than £1m in the facilities including a new training ground"

    That won't buy a lot of training ground.....
  • "We give him a new life at Charlton."

    Sounds like a witness protection racket.

    Trevor McDonald will be interviewing shortly.
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  • Thanks for posting AFKA, would otherwise have missed this.
  • Interesting they looked at Fulham, wasn't aware of that. That would have been around 7-8 months before they bought Charlton, and (I assume though what she says kind of disputes that), before KM started working for RD ?

    Think KM did work for RD before she became an employee.

    The interest in Premiership Fulham indicates the probable availability of substantial funds for football related spending.
    I thought in yesterday's Sky piece she said she'd worked for RD for two months b fore coming here (I may be wrong)

  • Good interview.
  • PL54 said:

    She says that incident had been preceded by “a lot of hate emails saying we were ruining the club, that we didn’t know what we were doing”.

    I wonder why she doesn't bother replying ?

    Yes, though I suspect any negative email, expressing concern or asking questions would be filed as 'hate mail'. That's not to say that there wasn't genuine hate mail, as I'm sure there was.

    Shane the camera wasn't rolling when she got off the train and we could have seen who thought it was acceptable to scream in her face,

    I just don't believe that bit.

    Blimey, she's in the news more Taylor Swift these days !

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/katrien-meire-ive-had-frightening-abuse-from-charlton-fans-but-i-love-leading-role-10131362.html



    “I know this obsession with Standard Liege,” says Meire with a sigh. “This criticism started last year because we brought over players who were not of the right standard.


    This bit gives me the most encouragement. Hopefully we won't see a repeat of January 2014.
  • "We give him a new life at Charlton."

    Sounds like a witness protection racket.

    Interesting back four heading our way...

    image
  • Good interview, but I can't help thinking that it's only because the reporter was sitting there... what you think? @kentaddick
  • Not a fan of the network set up in principle as still hark for the romantic notion of a local Charlton supporter leading us onward but not naive enough to think that there are a queue of these or any other type of investor lining up to own us. But the more I see of KM the more she strikes me as genuine. As emotive was the sacking of CP and the subsequent horror stories about owner interference it seems they have done well by fortune or calculation with Luzon's appointment so far and it is hard to complain about the direction the club is going and where we are at compared to any other time over many of the past few years.

    Of course winning 7 of our last 9 helps, and no doubt if we don't win Friday week the view may be less optimistic, but KM really does make it easy to feel positive and optimistic about the club the way she comes across.

    Hopefully not being duped, and spun a yarn. Time will tell but she does appear to be a great credit to the club at present.
  • Does worry me slightly that she travels by train to games by herself, could (has) left her open to verbal abuse. It's good that she is now doing a fair bit in the media but this will only make her more reconisable to opposition fans and to the wider public and could lead her to having more problems.
  • Sponsored links:


  • Does worry me slightly that she travels by train to games by herself, could (has) left her open to verbal abuse. It's good that she is now doing a fair bit in the media but this will only make her more reconisable to opposition fans and to the wider public and could lead her to having more problems.

    If there are "gentlemen" on the train with her, they should stand up for her, (whether you agree with her, RD, GL, the network, or anything else) and there should be no problems.

    It was the way I was brought up, I suppose. Men should not treat women that way.
  • How's she getting to Zampa Den
  • Does worry me slightly that she travels by train to games by herself, could (has) left her open to verbal abuse. It's good that she is now doing a fair bit in the media but this will only make her more reconisable to opposition fans and to the wider public and could lead her to having more problems.

    If there are "gentlemen" on the train with her, they should stand up for her, (whether you agree with her, RD, GL, the network, or anything else) and there should be no problems.

    It was the way I was brought up, I suppose. Men should not treat women that way.
    I agree with you, it's just that there are some 'types' out there.
  • How's she getting to Zampa Den

    No trains.

    Your turn to give her a lift, OohAah


  • seth plum said:

    On the Powell sacking, well Katrien said yesterday and now today that 'it' wasn't working. I fully understand that in those circumstances something's gotta give, and it won't be the owner.
    I am intrigued by the 'it'. Does she mean results? Does she mean compliance? Does she mean playing players as instructed? Does she mean the traditional style of manager rather than the continental head coach?
    Judging by the Powell interview the new regime did virtually nothing to support Powell when they took over, indeed they undermined him, and then let it drag on because it would've looked even worse if Powell was sacked during the cup run.
    The it that Katrien refers to is a small word covering a big problem which the current regime might now admit was handled disastrously, as it has clumsily handled other stuff since.
    I suppose I am musing on to what degree the pattern might repeat itself in the future. The it is a very ambiguous term in this context, for example I presume it wasn't working for Guy Luzon at Liege so they sacked him there.
    I would like to think that the definition of working is results and success, I would also accept that 'working' could mean driving down costs until the club breaks even on it's own terms, and if that means poor results and relegation, then fair enough.
    I wonder however if the it that is supposed to work is about creating a player farm, or some kind of convoluted thing that it is hard to understand.
    Anyway like Guy Luzon, at the moment I understand wins, and also don't like to lose. I suspect Guy and I are also both well cheesed off that we're not going to make the play offs, and the it that can work next season ought to be promotion rather than air conditioned pulled pork.

    I'd guess that the it is/was their working relationship, Seth
  • Does worry me slightly that she travels by train to games by herself, could (has) left her open to verbal abuse. It's good that she is now doing a fair bit in the media but this will only make her more reconisable to opposition fans and to the wider public and could lead her to having more problems.

    We are Charlton. Trains are what we do.
  • How's she getting to Zampa Den

    I was wondering that, I would hope an exception to the train on this occaision, @Fanny Fanackapan maybe have a word?
  • Uboat said:

    PL54 said:

    She says that incident had been preceded by “a lot of hate emails saying we were ruining the club, that we didn’t know what we were doing”.

    I wonder why she doesn't bother replying ?

    Yes, though I suspect any negative email, expressing concern or asking questions would be filed as 'hate mail'. That's not to say that there wasn't genuine hate mail, as I'm sure there was.

    Shane the camera wasn't rolling when she got off the train and we could have seen who thought it was acceptable to scream in her face,

    I just don't believe that bit.

    Blimey, she's in the news more Taylor Swift these days !

    http://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/katrien-meire-ive-had-frightening-abuse-from-charlton-fans-but-i-love-leading-role-10131362.html



    “I know this obsession with Standard Liege,” says Meire with a sigh. “This criticism started last year because we brought over players who were not of the right standard.


    This bit gives me the most encouragement. Hopefully we won't see a repeat of January 2014.
    Agreed, it's comforting that they realise that the January 2014 signings were a mistake and not what they expect to do going forward
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