Friday, October 17, 2008

Cardiff preview

Usually two-week international breaks offer an interminable respite from Charlton news, in favour of fascinating coverage of the way Frank Lampard feels about the challenge posed by the mighty Belarus.

We still had to put up with Lampard of course, but a Charlton story emerged from nowhere last Friday, the potential implications of which can quite simply not be overestimated.

Those that do not favour foreign ownership of clubs in any form have a valid point, but given that the English game has clearly moved in this direction, it was not clear what the future held for Charlton in this context. Moreover, it implied an assumption that our current owners would wish to remain so forever, an unrealistic one given the effort and capital they have poured in over the years.

The timing of the Zabeel bid is fabulous, in light of the perhaps unprecedented wealth destruction that is currently taking place across the globe. The possibility of securing a deep-pocketed, and hopefully well-intentioned new owner at this time bodes extraordinarily well for Charlton in both an absolute and relative sense.

The 'absolute' implications are obvious; in the near-term perhaps some January squad additions, and an end to budget-balancing firesales. However the 'relative' implications are truly whetting my appetite at this point.

Although the average fan may not realise it yet, but the 'football boom' is well and truly over. The Premiership model, which layers enormous debts upon a business which essentially redistributes the bulk of its revenues to players with no loyalty, is wholly unsustainable.

The assumption that these debts can always be refinanced, or that some other billionaire will be the 'greater fool' and take over the club, will now be severely challenged.

The present global economic bust is unusual so far, because its first victims have been the very wealthiest. Entire fortunes have been wiped out in Russia for example, whilst the ongoing carnage in equity markets generally reminds one of that old adage that it's only when the tide goes out, that one finds out who's been swimming naked.

I would find it very difficult to believe that a wealthy enough individual, currently has a Premiership club high on his shopping list. Many of these acquisitions were achieved via leverage (now impossible to obtain), whilst any investor worth his salt today will surely favour cash and liquidity, over the uncertainty of sport. The universe of potential buyers is thus greatly reduced, with potentially devastating consequences for many clubs.

In this context then the cash emanating from Zabeel, and Dubai more generally, is both rare and welcome, because it is both largely unleveraged, and will be invested with more than a mere near-term profit goal in mind (the long-term marketing of the 'Dubai' brand is key here too in my view).

As a result, I find myself literally lying awake at night, wondering how deflated I would feel if this deal does not get completed. I'm not usually prone to hyperbole, but I really do believe that this would be the defining moment in the history of Charlton Athletic FC.

Returning to The Valley in 1992 was a special moment too of course, but mere emotional sentiment compared to the possibilities herein (although the latter would not have been possible without the former of course). Not surprisingly therefore, it is not easy to get overly excited about a trip to dilapidated Ninian Park.

My mantra that draws are the most overrated outcome in the modern game, is best emphasised surely by the Bluebirds. Despite just one defeat all season (the same number as leaders Birmingham), they would be leapfrogged by a win from stuttering Charlton (five defeats so far).

Cardiff may include former Addick, Jay Bothroyd an uninspiring free transfer acquisition towards the end of Curbishley's reign. Best known for his free-kick abilities, he has surely re-found the level which he always belonged.

The club confirmed this week that Zheng will undergo a foot operation, and whilst not usually one to promote conspiracy theories, I sense there is something rather odd about the whole situation. Thus I believe it is a fair assumption that he has played his final game for Charlton, whether Zabeel complete their acquisition or not.

I expect Pards to line them up as follows: Weaver, Semedo, Youga, Hudson, Primus, Bailey, Holland, Ambrose, Bouazza, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliot, Cranie, Shelvey, Dickson, Sam.

NY Addick predicts: Cardiff 0, Charlton 1 (Varney). Att: 11, 282.

3 Comments:

At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Johnny73 said...

I understand your excitement. Personally i find it hard to comprehend my mere frugal existence with the wealth which could be available to the club.

Your financial assessment is spot on. Those who are against the takeover (not many that I can see) should consider our future without an owner with unlimited funds. Gloomy would be the simplest term.

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Dubai is not immune from financial challenges and there has been talk this week of the unwinding property boom leading to refinancing risks, but I'd be amazed if any banks risked not rolling. The boot is squarely on the wrong foot for that.

Notwithstanding this comment I think the proposed deal is almost too good to be true. My guess is that if Zabeel complete they will be less extravagent with their cash than some might hope, but I'd expect them to be in it for the long haul and to act with integrity. They will be very conscious of the impact of what they do with Charlton on the image of the UAE. Contrast that with the who cares less thuggery of Mr Abramovich. I don't think we could do any better.

Hope you are wrong about Zheng. I'm a big fan but I thought he was poor last week (haven't seen him play worse) so perhaps he was injured. Also, if any PL clubs really fancied him he would have gone in the summer I reckon.

Anyway, fingers and everything else crossed on both counts!!

 
At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Dubai is not immune from financial challenges and there has been talk this week of the unwinding property boom leading to refinancing risks, but I'd be amazed if any banks risked not rolling. The boot is squarely on the wrong foot for that.

Notwithstanding this comment I think the proposed deal is almost too good to be true. My guess is that if Zabeel complete they will be less extravagent with their cash than some might hope, but I'd expect them to be in it for the long haul and to act with integrity. They will be very conscious of the impact of what they do with Charlton on the image of the UAE. Contrast that with the who cares less thuggery of Mr Abramovich. I don't think we could do any better.

Hope you are wrong about Zheng. I'm a big fan but I thought he was poor last week (haven't seen him play worse) so perhaps he was injured. Also, if any PL clubs really fancied him he would have gone in the summer I reckon.

Anyway, fingers and everything else crossed on both counts!!

 

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