Thoughts post CAST meeting
I heard a lot of good things about last night. The fan’s meeting was expertly arranged by CAST and it sounded constructive and, importantly, respectful, with the overriding agreement from those present that we need much more engagement from the owner.
My hope was that a plan of intention was scoped out by the end, but that was probably asking for too much, and I support the view that we need to be ready for the long game by being organized, smart, rational and lucid. We also need to separate results from fan actions and back Luzon and the team.
I won’t dwell on the meeting because I wasn’t there, but these people were – Dave, Kyle, Blackheath and Ted. Video’s of the opening speeches are on VOTV, including Rick Everitt’s impassioned address to the 400 or so that were at the Woolwich Grand Theatre, a very impressive number that tells it’s own story.
From a personal point of view I also find myself in the group asking what is it I really want today as a Charlton fan?
My love and intensity in following Charlton Athletic has never once dimmed even though I moved away from the UK in 2003. Unlike many of you, Charlton does not take up a big chunk of my family time and money, however it would be fair to say, that it does take up a lot of space in my head, and my heart but in the past 12 months I have felt more estranged than ever before.
I have always been proud to be an Addick and everything that the club has ever stood for. I love the sense of belonging, and I admit it, the drug of how Charlton turns me from a normally placid and imperturbable bloke into a completely irrational one, I love.
I am part of the crumbling, empty Valley generation, the Selhurst and Lennie years and the Back to The Valley movement. The world was different then, kids were different, football was different.
One thing that came out of last night was the lack of twenty-somethings in the room. Where have they gone? Does the blindness of following a football club such as Charlton still run as deep? I always enjoy reading Kyle Andrews lengthy and fervent blog posts because if I had a computer in the late 80’s I would have been compelled to write heartfelt missives about a hobby that sends me from the depths of despair to happiness and back again on a weekly basis.
Kyle gets it, or it has got him, but what about his peer group? Sky TV, Football Manager and football chairman charging an arm and a leg for families to see a game of poxy football have all got a lot to answer for.
Perhaps Katrien Meire instead of looking for Charlton fans in Streatham, could develop ways to not just bring kids to games for a fiver, but to keep them there. Maybe she is already, who knows.
After the sour ending of the Jimenez and Slater period, I will always be thankful for the financial stability that Roland Duchâtelet brought. I have always been intrigued by the network idea, and think with a vision, clear strategy and a buy-in it could work in the modern game. Certainly Watford are a better illustration of it than we are.
My interest since Duchâtelet bought us has always been about his blueprint for the network, and how it was to operate. My annoyance is that we have not been deemed important enough to communicate with, other than the desultory, heavily edited and fluff laden video clips.
You can look at my archives and read tens of posts exposing flaws in the network system, asking how he is going to pull together his different footballing interests, scepticism of the long term plan and questioning continuously the hideous lack of engagement with the fan base.
Through Meire, Duchâtelet talks incessantly about community and stadiums being meeting places, but all the time witnessing more and more empty seats, alienating long term supporters and although adding financial security, taking away at a rapid rate of knots the heart and soul of everything Charlton stands for.
And we are not alone, Standard fans hate him, so do St Truiden’s, and Alcorcón’s are growing increasingly suspicious.
Charlton fans as proved last night are a tolerant and welcoming lot, but I am fed up of being fobbed off, and that is why I support wholeheartedly the CAST led efforts to bring about some, any dialogue.