Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Yet another 'what if...?'

Watching Derby win the Championship play-off on Monday was a little odd - another PS on the postcard from mediocrity that's been our season, as The Man Who Was Nearly Manager, Billy Davies, took the Rams back up into the top flight.

Davies, as we know from his agent's evidence to the Palace v Dowie trial, turned down the Charlton job because he wanted a higher basic salary than Charlton were offering. But what if we'd have yielded to his demands?

Well, somehow, I get the feeling Charlton and Davies might not have been such a good idea after all. The Govan-born boss has a touch of the Alex Ferguson about him, and I get the feeling he would probably have not got on so well with our own board. Indeed, he's already placed some uncertainty over whether he'll be at Pride Park next season, a situation I don't think we'd tolerate. Assuming he stays, it'll be interesting to see how Derby do next season.

All quiet on the Charlton front as the season prepares to formally end - Kish might be off to Leicester, but aside from that, all else is the usual rumour, bullshit and conjecture.

By the end of the week, we'll have handed our share in the Premier League back, and there'll be a nice red Coca-Cola Championship insignia to get used to. This time last year we'd just unveiled Iain Dowie - now, the dust has finally settled on the upheaval all that caused.

So it's a good time to do what I did this time last year - sod off on holiday again. Stuart's in charge until next week in case anything exciting happens - he's been slaving away on his Kevin Lisbie career appreciation, so please be kind to him. In the meantime, I'll be enjoying sunshine and sounds in Barcelona. Play nicely, now.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


A bit surprised to see Hermann Hreidarsson second off the sunk ship - but then he did have a clause allowing him to go for free if we went down. But as a someone who's clearly used to relegation (having gone down with Palace, Wimbledon and Ipswich before us), maybe he saw it coming.

At his peak, he was a fine, fine player for us. But his skills are clearly declining. Perhaps he sums up our doomed season. A good personality, was strong once, but quickly became a shadow of his former self.

Mind you, at least he was good once. Talal El Karkouri has been shown the door, according to the South London Press, while Bryan Hughes and Kevin Lisbie are also out of contract. Encouragingly, Matt Holland has been offered a one year contract (according to the same paper) - Captain Cleanshorts really can be a master of the Championship once again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Premier League needs Tube training

Got any footage from Charlton matches up on YouTube? Watch out - the lawyers are coming. I've got a personal YouTube account, away from this site, where I've slapped up a few badly-pixellated videos of songs and incidents from Charlton matches if I've found myself with my camera in my pocket. One of them is Darren Bent's penalty for us against Wigan.

You can't actually see very much, but it's what you can hear that counts - mostly the chap next to me (All Quiet collaborator Stuart, for it is he) yelling "GO ON SON!" before the crowd goes wild. A postcard of a moment to show your mates.

Not in the cash stuffed world of the Premier League it isn't.

YouTube | Broadcast Yourself™

Dear Member:

This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by NetResult claiming that this material is infringing:

Charlton v Wigan, 31/3/07:
[url deleted]

Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to avoid future strikes against your account, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.

If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.

Yup - my shitty video's been pulled for alleged copyright infringement. The Premier League announced it was going after YouTube in May. Not that the league's got the balls to put its name to the deletion - my page now reads: "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NetResult", a firm whose job it is to chase up copyright infringements. NetResult's clients include Football DataCo, the company which insists that a football team's fixture list is someone else's intellectual property. You can see the level of pettiness going on here.

With the amount of stuff lifted from Sky, the BBC and various worldwide channels, it's easy to understand why the Premier League would go after YouTube in some respects - archive sales of footage are a lucrative business. But shoddy home-made films of some blobs moving on some green stuff, accompanied by raucous cheering? Do me a favour.

Of course, a forward-looking organisation might find some way to utilise this stuff for its own benefit. Organisations such as the BBC are working with YouTube - this is a game it's more sensible to join than try to outlaw.

A sensible, forward-looking Premier League might actually encourage fans to put up their amateur footage of their matchday experiences somewhere - to remind fans that they're the people who matter. But then again, this isn't a sensible, forward-looking organisation, it's an outfit which only has the interests of its biggest members at heart, an outfit with contempt for its consumers and eyes only for anything bearing huge sums of cash.

In the meantime, it'll keep on wasting money pursuing people who dare to put up videos of people cheering goals by the teams they love. And it'll wonder why those same people will drift away from matches. English football's always been run by those who look backwards. And the Premier League's going to find itself in another stupid mess if it keeps up this kind of behaviour.

Still, what do we care? Our new league's run by the man who privatised the railways.... oh.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Charlton Life charity match today

Just a reminder - if you're near The Valley today, it's Charlton Life's charity matches this afternoon, so get along if you fancy seeing people who spout off on the internet wheeze or breeze their way around our sacred turf.

There's also a bash afterwards in Bartram's where there'll be a raffle and auction. It's all in aid of Demelza House, so give generously.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Championship challengers

So, as expected, our first two signings - experienced Colchester striker Chris Iwelumo and Crewe hotshot Luke Varney.

Chris seems to be your honest forward who's been about a bit (and not in a Marcus Bent fashion) while Luke is... guess what... "an exciting young player, and perfectly fits the mould of a Charlton player." See, I told you Pards can tickle us in the right places, didn't I?

What this means for a certain other Charlton striker, heaven alone knows. Well, I think we do know, but it's a bit pointless speculating on where Darren Bent will start the season just yet. Could he stay? Probably not, but it's worth remembering West Ham hung onto Jermain Defoe for a few months after their own drop - for all the good it did them. But it's probably best that we let him go, and rebuild without him.

Along with the signing of Chris Dickson earlier this year, Pards is clearly setting out his stall for the Championship campaign. It's encouraging that we've moved so quickly. I'm now intrigued as to who might come next...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

After the drop

A week to let the dust settle after relegation, and... there really isn't very much to say. It's that weird limbo time where Mr Murray and Reg haven't yet handed back our Premier League share, yet they've probably been leafing through a few issues of League Leader to reacquaint ourselves with our new pals. Did you know the Football League bulk-buys bog roll for its clubs to keep costs down? None of that fancy quilted stuff here. This is real football.

The only confirmed exit so far is that of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, astoundingly linked with promoted Birmingham, while various reports link us with Colchester's Chris Iwelumo and Crewe's Luke Varney. You spend years in the Premiership looking for strikers, and two come along at once as soon as you drop down! In fact, make that three since celebrity poker player Teddy Sheringham's also been linked with us, along with Millwall and absurdly-titled US "soccer" franchise New York Red Bulls.

So where did it all go wrong? We've all got our views, but anybody who follows Charlton will know our decline has lasted longer than a season.

I think the roots of our decline set in after we were bullied into selling Scott Parker by Chelsea in January 2004. It was the first time Alan Curbishley had a fat pile of cash to take into the transfer market, and he returned with Danny Murphy and Francis Jeffers. The latter was a failure, the former psychologically flawed. (Events at West Ham have since backed up my theory that Curbs really can't spend big - it'll be interesting to see how he does over there with a huge pot of cash and wild expectations now they've stayed up.)

We changed our style of play to suit Murphy - alongside and at the start of the 2005/06 season, we were brilliant. Simply superb. Murphy was on the verge of an England recall, but then we lost to Spurs in October 2005, and neither he - nor we - ever really recovered. Within 13 months of that, Murphy had left to become a member of Spurs reserves, Curbs had left, and Iain Dowie had been sacked after pissing away £11m we really couldn't afford in a vain attempt to fix what had been left broken.

Ooops, make that two managers who can't spend a transfer budget.

Frankie picked up the baton from Monday's "We've got our Charlton back" by pointing out that there are Charlton players, and players who just aren't Charlton players. Dean Kiely said something similar after the Spurs defeat. Yet what is a Charlton-type player? I'd say honest, skilful, tenacious, not showy - but how long can you survive in the bent world of the Premier League on those qualities alone, or before "Charlton-type" players become corrupted by what's around them (like Scott Parker)? Is our fate inevitable for clubs of a certain size, too big to be minnows yet too small to join the elite?

It's a difficult question, but the psychological comfort of seeing JFH get his fat arse out of The Valley is more soothing than the reality of the situation we're in now, landed in a league which is very difficult to escape from. But at least we're feeling good about it, which counts for a lot.

And that's translated to a positive spirit in the stands. We're feeling motivated again, partly thanks to having a manager who knows how important a noisy fanbase is. Initiatives like Valley Flags have helped get people involved again, while we have a busy supporters director.

Charlton Life, on whose forum I can often be found spouting rubbish, has raised the bar for fan sites and gets looked at at high levels in the club. If you're free on Tuesday, why not go along to its charity matches at The Valley? (Or donate some cash?) And more importantly, it's signalled the generational shift we've badly needed for years - meaning the 40-50somethings who led the Back To The Valley campaign now have younger blood alongside them in organising and chivvying fans along.

No-one's pretending this season's been a success, and that that the next one's going to be easy. But things have been gained, and hopefully there'll be lessons learned that will stand us in good stead for the future.

Monday, May 14, 2007

'We've got our Charlton back'

A weekend of contrasting matches for me - Saturday was spent at Wembley watching Kidderminster and Stevenage fight it out for the FA Trophy, in a fantastic match which is guaranteed to be better than next weekend's FA Cup Final. Life outside the Premiership? Of course.

But outside the over-hyped world of Sky Sports, we knew that anyway. Up at Anfield on Sunday, the armchair fan would have been flabbergasted to see a Charlton contingent actually looking forward to next season. It's a shame the Scousers didn't want to join the party - the atmosphere from the home fans was a little flat (possibly due to bad feeling over the tickets for Athens) and the stewarding was laughably heavy-handed, with beach balls being nicked and one lad getting chucked out for "over-exuberance" (standing up).

The match, though, was a cracker, and possibly our best away performance for about 18 months - help by Liverpool clearly being distracted by thoughts of Athens. Darren Randolph was outstanding on his debut in goal, while Lloyd Sam did enough to show he could be a force in the Championship next season. Already doomed and overshadowed by Robbie Fowler's leaving party, we weren't going to get much credit for the match, but instead it was a special occasion for the faithful who made the trip, who cheered every ball, sang their hearts out, jeered Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, and watched at the end as Marcus Bent came on as a sub, heard the final whistle, then stormed off down the tunnel, throwing his shirt to the ground. The Premiership wasters are history - it's time to build our own stars again.

Like we sang, "we've got our Charlton back."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Crystal Palace FC (2000) Ltd v Dowie, day 3

Proper report: Sporting Life

When I first heard about Richard Murray's row with Simon Jordan at the Crystal Palace match, I never believed it'd end up coming up in court. Yet, two years later, here I was, in Court 12 at the Royal Courts of Justice, and here was Jordan's brother Dominic being cross-examined about it.

If you get the chance to go along to this, do it. History surrounds you as the lawyers and court staff amiably go about their business. I couldn't help think back to another time Charlton executives were here - back in 1984, when the club was saved from extinction.

But here were Charlton, represented by Richard Murray, Peter Varney and Bob Whitehand, as part of the case brought by Simon Jordan against Iain Dowie. Jordan claims "fraudulent misrepresentation", saying he only let Dowie leave Palace on the unwritten understanding that his ex-manager wished to move north. As we all know, Dowie joined Charlton, and the rest is history.

A huge number of boxes and files, a video screen set up, all testament to the work (and money) that's gone into this. Yet only one man appeared to really want to be there.

Jordan's smaller than you'd think, his highlights apparent in the shadows of the court's entrance. The sunbed seems to be shared around the family. Dowie's a big guy, and he listened intently to the evidence and looking relaxed, along with the Charlton delegation. Jordan's family are with him - brother Dominic is his right-hand man at Palace, while his father approached Murray, shook him warmly by the hand, and said, "sorry you're going down - at least we'll see each other next season".

In the witness box, Jordan looked nervous - scowling and pouting at questions he didn't like, fiddling at one point with the microphone. But under cross-examination, he seemed vague on details. He can't recall whether or not he discussed the proceeds from the sale of "Mr Andy Johnston" with Peter Taylor. He's not sure when a Daily Mail journalist told him that Dowie was "nailed-on" going to Charlton. To be fair on him, it was the second day being cross-examined. For someone who's staked his reputation on this, he knows he's on a tightrope.

Occasionally, the exchanges became a little bad-tempered - answering as if he was a Catherine Tate sketch. "No I didn't. No I didn't. No I didn't." Bovvered? He bloody well was. And much of the exchanges shone a light into affairs at Palace - his purchase of Selhurst Park hasn't been completed yet. And the accounts for this year haven't been filed yet. The defence want to portray Palace's financial affairs as being ramshackle, something he denies.

As mentioned above, he believes he was misled by a PFA representative, on the basis of evidence in his diary. The case may be about Iain Dowie's behaviour, but today it was all about the Palace chairman. The word Machiavellian came up a lot, which Jordan did not like.

Palace's counsel also called Billy Davies' representative, James Price, to give evidence. Davies didn't take the Charlton job because of a disagreement over money. Davies wanted more of a basic salary, while CAFC wanted more of his money to be paid as win bonuses. He said he regarded CAFC's board as "honest and robust", and talks ended amicably after they could not come to an agreement over money.

Current Palace manager Peter Taylor's appearance came as a surprise - at first I didn't recognise the silver-haired chap in deep conversation with... Bob Whitehand and Richard Murray! Taylor cracked a couple of jokes and told the court that Alan Curbishley had recommended him to Charlton. He said orginally Andrew Mills told him he was "one candidate out of one", but pulled out after Mills later told him he was "one out of three", but at no time was Dowie's name mentioned to him. He said he didn't want to be in court to give evidence against a fellow manager... with his boss Jordan sat a few feet in front of him.

Dominic Jordan told the court that Murray threatened him during the ETCYT incident (Murray shook his head and muttered that it wasn't true) but admitted asking if Murray was "a big man". However, he denied threatening Murray.

On one day's proceedings, it doesn't seem as if Palace have much of a case against Dowie. There's very little that can be nailed down against him. And James Price and Peter Taylor may as well have been giving evidence for Dowie, who will be in the witness box when proceedings resume on Monday.

Whatever way the case goes, though - it's hard to see anyone getting much satisfaction out of this. Two managers have had to take days off to appear in court, another has been distracted while in the play-offs. But it's an interesting spectacle - and with Jordan around, it is the best free show in London.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Championship club, lots of potential

An irritatingly skimpy story from BBC sports editor Mihir Bose, which presumably featured on BBC1's new Inside Sport programme while we were drowning our sorrows...

A consortium is lining up a takeover bid for newly relegated Charlton.

The bid is being put together by a group of Middle Eastern and continental businessmen who had previously looked into acquiring Liverpool.

They are particularly keen on Charlton because of their London location, which is suitable for expansion and offers commercial and marketing potential.

Charlton also own their own ground in addition to having a well-established academy and facilities.

The consortium has always been determined to make the bid regardless of Charlton's Premiership status, although relegation will of course affect the price.

It is possible that a bid will be tabled shortly after the end of the season.

Some thoughts. Firstly, this was surely always likely - we're now on the cheap, in the second tier with plenty of chance to bounce back up to the top. If you were hunting for an English club to buy, then why not us? It's likely any consortium would use a willing journalist to announce their interest.

Would Murray sell? A cycle of our history is certainly over. You'd have to ask him if he's bored with it. But the lack of detail in this story, its lack of prominence on the BBC Sport website and its sort-of-inevitable timing leaves me a bit underwhelmed.

Anyhow, welcome to the Championship, eh?

RELEGATED: Charlton 0-2 Tottenham

Proper reports:, BBC Sport, Sky Sports, The Guardian, The Independent, Daily Telegraph, The Times.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The lawyers get ready...

The fall-out from the West Ham fiasco rumbles on. After the letter from us, Fulham, Wigan and Sheffield United threatening legal action against the Premier League, a Tevez-inspired West Ham romped to a 3-1 defeat of Bolton. Wigan lost to Middlesbrough, while Fulham managed to confound the odds and beat Liverpool 1-0 - a result which surely seals safety for the Cottagers, and which dumps us right in it. I wonder what appetite Fulham would have for legal action now?

Off the field, the Premier League insists all is above board regarding West Ham, but today's Observer reports un-named clubs which aren't involved in the relegation dogfight are also lining up to take action against West Ham - or as Sheffield United's chairman Kevin McCabe says:

"Now that one-third of the Premier League is together, it may have an effect on the League in terms of asking for a review of the decision-making process from the tribunal. That could lead to a different ruling. It seemed obtuse.

'West Ham have admitted that they fielded players illegally. Tevez is a brilliant player and that gives them an advantage. Hopefully Sheffield United will not be relegated, but we will support any club in whatever they might pursue."

What are the possibilities? Charlton are in an awkward position because Alan Pardew was manager when Tevez was signed. Which would leave Wigan to take the lead. But is all this bluster futile? The Premier League left the inquiry to an independent commission, so it can wash its hands of responsibility for any decision made. All 20 clubs are shareholders in the Premier League, so clubs would effectively be suing themselves.

But the staggering sums involved make some form of legal action likely, if only to uphold a principle or to ensure that this situation can never happen again. It is, still, quite staggering to think the Premier League could blunder into this mess in the first place.

Of course, this shouldn't hide the fact that we've been crap all season and thoroughly deserve to go down - as Richard Murray knows to his cost. But it seems that a sense of injustice as well as financial pain could prolong the West Ham fiasco long into the summer.

Looking forward to Spurs tomorrow? Me neither, and the lap of "honour" after will be... interesting. But chin up, sing up, and don't dare let the TV cameras catch you crying.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Ready, steady... JUMP!

Nearly a week after Blackburn, the feeling is weird. Most Charlton fans have accepted something that it isn't in the media's interest to accept - relegation is very, very likely. The dream four-point scenario's still a possibility, but in 24 hours' time we'll know if this is worthless, and whether or not we can leap for safety at the very last moment.

We knew the damage was done before Alan Pardew arrived - the new captain had to steer a badly-holed ship home before it sank. Remember this season's nadir, against Wycombe? This video will remind you of our darkest hour. It looks like we'll fall just short, but we know we're no longer a basket case. And should we be playing in another league next season, Pards is prepared - and takes heart from Cork's most famous dog-walker.

"It is all about the politics of what happens if you are relegated. The one thing I know about the Championship is that you need a strong spirit and if you do not have that, you will not come up.

"Birmingham and Sunderland have managed to cull their squad and keep the players that have that spirit.

"Personally, I think relegation is something we get carried away with. It is very important, but it is not the be all and end all and in some ways it can even be a blessing because it gives you the chance to re-address the issues at the club.

"Certainly, it is not the end of the world if we go down, we will be strong and we will bounce back if the worst happens - but the top priority is staying up this season."

Off the field, and as Pardew acknowledges, the P45s are already out of the drawer. Cry not for the pampered players and the fans who'll still have each other, but the poor bloody infantry who'll get it in the neck because of... well, I'll save the scapegoating until later.

At a higher level, there's still talk of suing the Premier League over the West Ham debacle, with Sheffield United's chairman Kevin McCabe following Wigan's Dave Whelan in talking of legal action, while press reports today claim Charlton representatives have joined Fulham executives as well as the Blades and Latics in talks. As I type this, the BBC is reporting that the four clubs have written to the Premier League to outline their unhappiness at the decision and demand "futher action" against West Ham. Whether or not legal action is wise is another matter, but this is what happens when you let one league get obscenely rich at the expense of all the others.

Funny, though, to see Curbs moaning about the loan system (as if he'd just read Martin Samuels' Times column) - do the names Alexei Smertin and Carlton Cole mean nothing to you, Alan?