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Katrien Meire and the question of FA tokenism

On Tuesday, 21 March, the FA Council (of which Katrien Meire is a member) will discuss the proposed structural changes already approved by the current board. These include
• Reduction in the size of the FA board to 10 members, with three positions on the FA board to be reserved for female members (by 2018)
• Addition of 11 new members to the FA council to ensure it better reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of English football (this will include ethnic and disability diversity)

Like many, I welcome in principle the proposal by the FA to ensure female representation on the FA Board from 2018, and hope this will provide a catalyst for an increase in competent female participation at all levels of the FA, and in positions of influence throughout the industry. However, the devil is always in the detail, and I see nothing within the FA’s statement in ABOUT THE FA http://www.thefa.com/news/2017/mar/06/governance-reforms-060317 to indicate how they will ensure that the positions reserved on the Board and in the Council for women and minority groups will be anything more than a “tick box” exercise, with the calibre of the appointee being secondary to their gender, skin colour, disability, etc. In my view such tokenism would be totally counter-productive, both from the perception it would give of those thus represented, and as a way of validating the work of the FA.

Of course we all have a particular interest in this at CAFC. In early 2014 we still had a very popular black manager, Chris Powell; a fans’ favourite since his playing days with us, and well respected throughout football as a man of integrity. Just the sort of person who might in future be welcomed to share his professionalism in the cause of governance of his sport, as he did in on the field as an England player. I, like many fans, felt “special” to be part of the minority of clubs with a black person in such a senior role.

So when the new owner of CAFC installed a young female lawyer Katrien Meire as his CEO, her presence was initially embraced by many fans in a similar fashion. How lucky were we to have the joint “uniqueness” of a black manager AND a female CEO? Well, as experience has unfortunately taught us, not lucky at all! Offers of help and cooperation from the fan-base were rebuffed. We were told bluntly by KM that the “shareholder” (owner Roland Duchâtelet) would do things his way, the 1/3rd of the income stream provided by ticket sales was unimportant, and “customer” input was unwelcome. Since then season ticket sales have fallen 40%, largely as a result of boycott, and presumably income from merchandise has seen a similar reduction.

It became clear that, rather than being run as a competitive sporting team, we were to be used as a “player farm”, putting the maximum number of youngsters from the Academy into the shop window of the first team as early as possible, in order to sell them to Premiership clubs, with minimal reinvestment in the team. No surprise when we were relegated last summer, and have once again been looking over our shoulders at the relegation zone this year. During her three incompetent years in charge, KM has supervised the relegation of the team, constant churn of players, managers and other senior roles at the club, and increasing financial debt to Staprix. Above all, she has driven a wedge between our club and its supporters.

What I find even more worrying is that, since last year, our inept but limelight-seeking CEO has had a nominated place on the FA Council, as a result of the EFL having more seats in its gift than candidates to fill them. I hope the FA is not misled by KM’s attempts to grab media plaudits rightly due to Charlton Athletic Community Trust for its work with minority groups, and the separately managed Charlton Women’s Team. Do KM’s FA colleagues realise that CACT was founded 25 years ago, and runs independently of the management of CAFC? To us fans who have lived for the past three years with the wrecking ball KM has wielded at Charlton, the possibility that she could be nodded onto the FA Board next year purely on grounds of her gender (and there could be no other valid reason) is unthinkable, whether or not she continues much longer as CEO of CAFC.

In summary, I have two concerns about the FA’s restructuring proposals:-
(1) What measures are planned to ensure the 3 female seats on the future board will be occupied by competent women, not just token females, such as KM?
(2) In the event that it is not possible to identify 3 suitably qualified women from the world of football, who are willing to serve, what alternative measures will there be to identify women with appropriate transferable skills from other sports, or from the business community?
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Comments

  • Agree with everything you've said there. We can only hope that by then she'll be no more than a stain on the history of Charlton Athletic.
    But if she is still here, what an opportunity to publicise further her utter incompetence and malice!
  • If she's eligible and there aren't enough nomimations to fill the places she'll get it.

    But lose it when/if the takeover happens.
  • iainment said:

    ... But lose it when/if the takeover happens.

    This is probably true of her EFL nominated seat on the council, but I've seen nothing to suggest it would be the case if she was in the running for a woman's seat on the board. I'm prepared to be corrected if you have info I've not found.
  • She'll leave football as no one apart from Duchatelet has any respect for her.
  • That's an excellent, measured post, if I may say so @N01R4M .

    I wonder if the good ladies at WAR might want to pick it up and see if a national journalist (preferably also female) might run with it.

    What do you think, @Fanny Fanackapan , @Arsenetatters ?
  • It's awful and bizarre.

    If it was a young male CEO that said and did all the stupid things she has, they wouldn't get a look in and would be laughed at so hard.

    Would be seen as a complete imbecile and written off straight away.

    This is not how things should be done.

    If I was a woman I would be furious. Katrien has completely mis-represented women in football.

    She has professionally jumped forward a lot further that what she earned (merit based) and deserved.....and mostly , simply because of her gender and her looks that may charm people around her.

    I believe people like Mandy Myers whatever her name was, and Sue Parkes, were promised certain things and possibly paid a little bit under the table to speak highly of Miss Meire.

    Remember that email leak AB attached, to indicate that Parkes didn't like Meire at all to begin with?

    You should get a job because you are good at it, not because you are a minority of some sort within the field.

    I hope more women get the work they deserve in football, because they are as good as or better then the person next to them.
  • Positive discrimination ,,,she survives despite her incompetence.
  • edited March 2017
    Or nepotism? (Edit: at Charlton)
  • I have no doubt whatsoever that she'll end up on the F.A. in some role.
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  • It's not positive discrimination to be fair. It's a pitifully small field for a few jobs, and that's not her fault. The FA has had over a century to put in place a governance that respects all who play the game. But chose not to. It's their fault if a fractured system throws up candidates who aren't fit for the job.
    And they have to figure a way to sort this out.
  • It should be part of the process that they describe the abilities of those eligible for the position. It should be more than just "woman-football". The FA should be looking for active participants, not failed CEOs.
  • Putting myself in her shoes.

    If, as Katrien Meire, I really really wanted a spot on the FA panel/committe EFL group thing whatever.

    I would think to myself, sure, I want that, but considering I have absolutely fucked everything up at Charlton and made a significant contribution to the large shambles of a mess behind the scenes and the recent relegation.

    The fans also clearly do not like me at all. The ones that pay the money to make the club what it is and they in theory, keep the wheels turning via the support and financial input.
    So they are valuable to the business. With, or without Rolands investment.

    I've personally pissed them off. It's quite rare for supporters of a football club to specifically call out the CEO and try to tell that person they are not wanted at the club.
    I'm a train wreck basically.
    How embarrassing. Even more embarrassing is the fact that I can't help but smirk while they are having a moan.

    I would think. It would be really cheeky of me to forward an interest in such a thing, like be on an FA panel.
    Especially at this present time. I better sort this mess out first, at least. Get some genuine solid respect and improve my reputation.

    shes a con-woman.

    She will climb up that ladder with absolutely no fear and without questioning herself one bit.

    Maybe just got a normal nice side to her as well and where she isn't quite so deluded, but who cares. That's not quite important or relevant. Not really the business of others.

    She's a rather uniquely ruthless individual though in my opinion.


  • I wish Meire could see herself as you describe there, but she clearly thinks she's wonderful, and it's the rest of of us who are totally wrong. Hate to see her progress further just because she's a woman, as she has nothing else going for her as far as football is concerned.
  • Like Professor Higgins' Eliza, I think Katrien will eventually discover the disadvantages of being an older man's protégée.

    However, I am more concerned for the immediate future of Charlton, & the medium future of football in this country. What price hopes that the FA will ever update its "Fit & Proper" test for owners, if KM is ever in a position of real power?

    Her outburst at the Telegraph conference last summer makes me think @IdleHans is spot on, and while most of us would think as @Dave21 suggests, there is little evidence KM thinks like that. This is a weakness of being surrounded by sycophants to the exclusion of critical friends, and it is possible RD labours under the same disadvantage, given his wealth.
  • It would be incredulous if she was given a role post her time with us
  • i think we all agree that she has no interest in our club or football in general , just to appoint her on gender is a joke , there must be others who have a football background and care about a club and the game . the sooner people like this are kicked out of football the better . Money seems to talk ??? maybe we thats us charlton supporters can change this
  • IdleHans said:

    I suspect she is simply entirely devoid of self-awareness.

    You read my mind
  • edited March 2017
    The FA are incompetant out of date idiots, intent on standing by while the industry that they exist to serve crumbles around them. They are only happy paying lip service to whatever tokenism is fashionable today on the interweb. They are a lot of hot air with no substance to justify the wealth and privilage they rule over...

    Hold on... i hate Daisy, but even i would advise her to apply!
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  • As far as I can see, the only reason the FA is contemplating change is that they will otherwise lose public funding. So yes, @ floyds1, money talks. I therefore lack confidence that much thought is being given to how changes will be enacted if the Council gives the go-ahead. I suspect underlying attitudes will prevail, and as @soapy_jones says, lip-service along with tokenism will be the order of the day in order to retain funding.

    Of the 3 proposed female FA Board positions, I guess at least one will go to a representative from Women's Football; there will rightly be uproar if they are excluded! I can see one of the others going to a woman in a senior position in Men's Football - here there is a very small pond in which to fish, and all the obvious inhabitants come with disadvantages. It is possibly significant that The Mail article in January named KM.

    True, KM appears to have little interest in football as a competitive sport - but we do have evidence she likes to enhance her CV. A senior position at the FA would certainly do that, and I am sure she will have no compunction playing the gender card to achieve that end. Having done so, she may well have no further use for the stepping stone called Charlton Athletic.
  • KM reminds me in some ways of Pierre-Yves Gerbeau. Remember him? The French guy drafted into rescue the Dome in early 2000 after Mandelson, etc, screwed it up. He was a similar age (a little older) and also had a distinctive personality.

    The press really wanted to slaughter him, but he won them round by throwing himself into the role and doing a decent job of clearing up an almighty mess. He's still working in the UK, apparently.

    He could have been the role model for KM, of someone coming from a different culture into the mad world of English public life. But she just seems to be one of these individuals powered by their own bullshit. Hopefully she won't be our problem for much longer.
  • Yes, I am aware of the KU Leuven award. I am not surprised the university refused to acknowledge they had made an error, nor that KM has included it in her Linkedin profile. Is RD also a graduate of the same university?

    In this country, many university departments are heavily dependent on funding from industry and wealthy individuals, particularly alumni. If the same is true in Belgium it might explain a lot... Always good to keep a benefactor sweet!
  • edited March 2017
    N01R4M said:

    Yes, I am aware of the KU Leuven award. I am not surprised the university refused to acknowledge they had made an error, nor that KM has included it in her Linkedin profile. Is RD also a graduate of the same university?

    In this country, many university departments are heavily dependent on funding from industry and wealthy individuals, particularly alumni. If the same is true in Belgium it might explain a lot... Always good to keep a benefactor sweet!

    Yes, he is a former student at KU Leuven (Late 1960s I believe). A quick look on site suggests that he was President of the sports Club (God help them).

    Worryingly, and this may be a fault of the translation, but he appears to be quoted as saying that when something is going wrong you let it capsize so that you can build it up again (or words to that effect)
    OMG.

    So, it is possible indeed that he had a word in the ear of the Alumni group re Meire
  • edited March 2017
    stonemuse said:

    Positive discrimination ,,,she survives despite her incompetence.

    She survives because Roland appointed her, presumably likes her, and doesn't do failure so won't remove her. This is not positive discrimination. If there were two people going for a job who were just as good as each other and the job was given to the person from the minority that is under-represented in that field, that would be positive discrimination.
  • stonemuse said:

    Positive discrimination ,,,she survives despite her incompetence.

    She survives because Roland appointed her, presumably likes her, and doesn't do failure so won't remove her. This is not positive discrimination. If there were two people going for a job who were just as good as each other and the job was given to the person from the minority that is under-represented in that field, that would be positive discrimination.
    I was not talking about her CAFC appointment by Uncle Roly, but her FA role.
  • N01R4M said:

    Yes, I am aware of the KU Leuven award. I am not surprised the university refused to acknowledge they had made an error, nor that KM has included it in her Linkedin profile. Is RD also a graduate of the same university?

    In this country, many university departments are heavily dependent on funding from industry and wealthy individuals, particularly alumni. If the same is true in Belgium it might explain a lot... Always good to keep a benefactor sweet!

    Yes, he is a former student at KU Leuven (Late 1960s I believe). A quick look on site suggests that he was President of the sports Club (God help them).

    Worryingly, and this may be a fault of the translation, but he appears to be quoted as saying that when something is going wrong you let it capsize so that you can build it up again (or words to that effect)
    OMG.

    So, it is possible indeed that he had a word in the ear of the Alumni group re Meire
    Surely he realises that OUR capsize is of Titanic proportions ?

    And we didn't need an iceberg !
  • Hope they don't have a tradition of rowing 8s at KU Leuven!

    And I think we do have an iceberg - the regime, with its icy, unfeeling heart, whose true nature was hidden by the mists of take-over until it was too late.
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Roland Out!