Thursday, October 23, 2008

Goodbye Dubai

Should we be surprised that Zabeel terminated takeover talks? In all of the comments I made on this blog and others, it was the amazing timing of the deal that struck me the most.

Unfortunately it seems that it was the very timing (in the midst of a global financial meltdown), that was ultimately really too good to be true.

I guess what is unusual is that the indicative deal was announced on Friday October 10th, the very day upon which the world's financial system was closest to collapse. Surely whatever is known now was known then, although there have indeed been several recent news stories suggesting that Dubai's ruling families are pulling in their horns and focusing domestically.

The quote about the 'worsening economic climate in the UK' sounds like PR b*llshit however. After all, if the fate of English football was truly correlated to the parlous state of the wider UK economy, then several clubs would already have collapsed upon their own contradictions.

If one assumes that Zabeel are true to their word, and will not imminently confirm talks with Everton or West Ham, then their decision bodes very ill for the domestic game given the enormous leverage that now infests so many clubs.

The speed with which this leverage is now unravelling globally is astounding, and the great unwind is taking down every asset class which relied upon it literally one-by-one. If virtually every single global bank can be nationalised in some form, then major football clubs can certainly go to the wall.

Where does it leave Charlton? Well, exactly where we were all along - a Championship club in the midst of a realignment to new more realistic goals, and led by a manager who is struggling to maximise the still considerable talents at his disposal.

Any hope that the risk of relegation this season would be avoided via a huge January transfer budget, has now clearly been dashed. The pressure on Pardew to deliver at least midtable security is now enormous, because the future would indeed be bleak if he does not. Watching League One football in a less than half-full stadium is not a particularly edifying thought.

However should he manage to turn this season around, I see no great reason to be overly pessimistic about the future. A quick look at the Championship table whilst depressing for us right now, also suggests that if we take a step back from our moroseness, we should realise we are actually on a pretty stable footing, at least in a relative sense.

It's hard not to feel sympathy for the likes of Richard Murray and those fellow directors that have toiled for years, to build a club whose structure, community spiritedness and finances would represent even a potential investment proposition for the likes of Zabeel.

One would hope that they do not lose the faith, and consider flogging the club to literally anyone willing to buy it, particularly those who fail to understand that Charlton is about more than simply the 11 players who happen to be wearing the shirt right now. However in this type of environment, who knows what financial demons lurk today in their personal finances, lending greater urgency to such a forced sale?

Coincidentally and flight delays notwithstanding, I will be at The Valley on Saturday where I had been hoping to be present to hear the deal announced.

Nonetheless, when the Red Red Robin begins to echo around our fabulous little stadium, I'll get that same old shiver down my spine and I'll remember just why I love the club as much as I did the very first time I heard it, as an expectant 4-year old kid back in 1977. Nothing that happened today changes any of that.


At 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good article , but
The trouble is that your comment about the still considerable talents available to him unfortunately is just not true.
Youga is poor , Holland great but past it, Sam , not good enough, Gray , not good enough & slow !!,
Bouzza, not really good enough, Varney , not good enough ( can't score goals at this level), Ambrose , shockingly depressingly awful and the rest of them are either here on loan , out on loan , injured and about to go ( ZZ) or near the end of their career , Todorov .
The only way we can progress now is to play Shelvey, Basey , Mou2 , Dickson to see if they can form the spine if a team for the future , but Shelvey will be off to pay the wages as soon as he starts performing .........
Oh woe, woe , woe . WE need a Warnock or a Gary Johnson to make a slik purse out of a sow's ear , but you do have to recognise that a sow's ear is what we have now in playing terms.

At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Nug said...

Great article NYA, our club is about more than the 11 players on the pitch, our future star player starts his climb to the first team on saturday. My 3 year old son has his first session with the Charlton Community Scheme.....a great club it is today as it was 2 weeks ago and it will be in 15 years time when my little one scores his first at The pressure there then!

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the crystal ball is smash once again no surprise than pulled out a very grey day , for charlton athletic.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger Second Division And Proud said...

another excellent summary nya - thank you

just clocked your tag line ... If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking

lets's all face together and JOIN THE REDVOLUTION !!!

At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

"I guess what is unusual is that the indicative deal was announced on Friday October 10th, the very day upon which the world's financial system was closest to collapse. Surely whatever is known now was known then, although there have indeed been several recent news stories suggesting that Dubai's ruling families are pulling in their horns and focusing domestically."

My guess is that this is a huge climb down from Zabeel who almost certainly received orders from above to abandon the deal. It would be interesting to know when they got that instruction.

Dubai is not oil rich like big brother Abu Dhabi and has been investing aggressively to become the financial centre for the region (UAE and GCC) as well as in the tourist industry (witness the spectacular Palm Island). Perhaps inevitably given the failure of the global financial system, Dubai has run into liquidity problems and whilst the position is probably very manageable the situation has given Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s defacto lender of last resort, the chance to rein in its upstart little brother. Abu Dhabi has long thought Dubai to be a little too aggressive and no doubt made its point during a recent weekend long, “crisis” meeting of the UAE leadership. Against this background, the leadership in Dubai probably concluded that “sponsoring” an investment company to make a high profile acquisition of an English Football Club wasn’t smart politics (the trivial sum of money wouldn’t have been the issue) and told Zabeel to extricate themselves. Zabeel are probably very embarrassed, but credit to them for complementing Charlton and rubbishing the media talk that they were looking at other clubs.

On the subject of other clubs, I have no doubt that Zabeel are being honest in what they say, but there is a slight possibility that they are being a little disingenuous. An alternative explanation for their withdrawal is that another Dubai based company or consortium is still interested in buying an English Club, almost certainly Liverpool, and that the conflict of interest accusation risk, notwithstanding the different legal entities, ruled out a bid by Zabeel for Charlton. On balance, I doubt this possibility somehow and am more inclined to conclude that the American owners of Liverpool are “stuffed”. Anyway, if this is what is going on we'll find out soon.

Bottom line is we’ve been very unlucky. Had Zabeel made their indicative offer two weeks sooner the deal would probably have been done. Such is fate, but life goes on and many clubs have much bigger challenges than we do.


Post a Comment

<< Home