Thursday, July 09, 2009

Wrap of the Week

After an uncomfortably quiet summer on the Charlton front, the news engine has finally kicked into gear.

With apologies for the tardiness of my responses, here's a wrap of the week:

Ambrose to Palace

A decent deal for the player; a questionable deal for Crystal Palace; an indifferent shrug of the shoulders from Charlton fans.

Ambrose is a fine example of the way that one can not easily predict a talented young player's development. A fact worth remembering when we think of some we would like to keep (Shelvey), and some we have recently let go (Wright, see below).

Already valued at £1million at the tender age of 19 (and surely more in truth, given Ipswich were in administration at the time), if he had developed in a linear fashion, he'd be on the fringes of the England squad by now.

Infact he's merely a Championship player, and an average one at that. Something is clearly amiss in the player's make-up, because he is blessed with considerable flair.

His body language does not suggest any semblance of arrogance, so perhaps he's just happy in the comfort zone. Nothing wrong with that of course, but it's a potential factor worth considering when seven-figure bids come in for our own youngsters.

Hudson sold down the river

Our skipper's departure for a hefty initial £1.075m probably signals the final time I can use the Hudson River pun, which as a temporary New Yorker is a terrible shame.

When the phone rings at The Valley, there can be few more welcome first words than, "Hello, it's Peter Ridsdale and I'd like to bid for one of your players."

Given he signed for a free transfer only a year ago, it seems outstanding business although one should bear in mind he was probably paid around half of that fee in wages, to captain us to League One.

His Charlton career got off to a dream start, scoring just minutes into his debut. But putting aside any inherent limitations (lack of pace etc.), his ability to inject some leadership qualities was curtailed somewhat by a myriad of defensive partners, and of course the managerial shambles he reported to.

Nonetheless, unlike some of Pardew's signings, at least you could understand the rationale, even if it didn't quite work out as planned.

Chris McGinty to Man Utd

It's rare that a Charlton player leaves for Manchester United, especially a 15-year old you've never heard of. Even Ralph Milne had to go via Bristol City before ending up at Old Trafford.

Not much to say here really except to welcome Richard Murray's confirmation that United behaved 'entirely honourably'.

I'm always slightly surprised at the vitriol Charlton fans reserve for Jermaine Defoe. He was only 16 years old when he left the Addicks (so it was hardly his own decision), whilst we ended up getting £1.4million in compensation.

The fact that he went on to earn considerable success is somewhat irrelevant, since this was hardly guaranteed (see Ambrose above).

I've no idea how good McGinty is, but his decision to join United whilst easy to understand, is not obviously the right one longer-term.

For every Paul Scholes or David Beckham, there's a Ronnie Wallwork and countless others we never even hear of.

Unfortunately situations like this are simply an inherent potential cost for Charlton, when running an efficient Academy.

It's worth acknowledging the fact that Jonjo Shelvey agreed to sign professional terms, despite presumably having other offers. This may be ultimately be a good thing for Jonjo, but at some level it's also a free gift to Charlton, for which we should be grateful.

Josh Wright joins the Iron

As a 19-year old with only three first-team appearances to his name, Wright certainly ignites a disproportionate amount of debate amongst fans.

On the one hand, there are those (like me) that see a talented young player who may lack pace, but who has considerable composure on the ball.

Moreover he was willing to not only knuckle down on three separate loan deals, but to have earned some considerable plaudits in the process (not least a hand in two promotions).

On the other hand, some are uncomfortable with his penchant for the tabloids, whether comforting his friend Jack Tweed, or planted stories advertising his availability to interested clubs.

His rumoured fallout with Phil Parkinson meanwhile was viewed (probably rightly), as a premature show of insolence for player who's not achieved anything yet in the game.

However putting aside any inherent biases, the bottom line is that we've let a 19-year old with 44 senior appearances under his belt and England honours, leave for nothing and he's already been snapped up by a respected manager at a higher level.

Somehow, that just doesn't feel (w)right. I was quite taken by the lad, so I hope he proves the club wrong.

Q&A forum cancelled

Regardless of the outcome of any takeover talks, the way the club has handled the situation has frankly been appalling.

Either there are no talks ongoing, in which case why on earth would the clubs lawyers have recommended a cancellation (hence unlikely)?

Or what is stopping the Board from issuing a brief statement (several weeks belatedly), on the lines of "..negotiations with one or more parties are ongoing, which may or may not lead to an offer for the club."

It is decidedly vague, but such announcements are not only common amongst publicly listed companies, but required by law.

The regulations that govern non-listed companies may be less robust, but as 'captive' customers (and in many cases shareholders too), we deserve far better than this continued game of smoke and mirrors.

Assuming something productive is indeed going on behind the scenes however, what might explain the delay?

One can't speculate upon the motives or finances of any potential buyers, except to note the shambolic process that Southampton have gone through, which happily for them had a satisfactory ending.

However, with the SLP reporting that Murray is willing to sell his equity for nothing, and perhaps even write-off his debts, then therein lies an obvious stumbling block.

The equity frankly is effectively worthless in my view, notwithstanding the 'greater fool' theory ie. there will always be another fool to buy you out at some later date.

How else can you value a club with barely positive book value, most of which represented by a stadium and players of questionable value, and with an operating business that continues to bleed cash? So for possible reasons for the delay, perhaps one needs to look closer to home.

The interests of the directors are represented by a combination of equity and debt. The relative interest of each individual director in each of these parts of the club's capital structure, may determine their willingness or otherwise to follow Murray's lead.

There are also the qualitative aspects of their involvement. How much are they willing to put the club before themselves? And more importantly, how much can they afford to do so?

For example, according to the most recent accounts, Bolstrom Ltd (Murray) 'only' contributed £504k to the £14m debt issue, but Messrs Chappell and Hatter contributed £4.1m and £3.1m respectively.

Meanwhile, Murray owns seven times more equity than Hatter, and nearly three times more than Chappell.

The timing of each director's investment is relevant too. Some have enjoyed eight seasons of Premiership hospitality; others have known only managerial stress and relegation.

I'm not smart enough to predict how all of the above might play out, except to note that it likely suggests the main owners may be acting based on individual incentives, rather than in unison and in the supposed best interests of the club. And unfortunately perhaps, rightly so.

The new kit

I've reviewed the timeline of Charlton's home kit, and I can see little evidence of a random white stripe having sentimental value.

The new kits of Everton and Man Utd may look ridiculous, but at least they're steeped in some vague commercially-minded view of history.

I happen to look quite good in red. Red screams anger, passion and love, which just happen to be the three feelings most Charlton fans are experiencing right now. If I want 'White Stripes', I'll buy their latest album.

Why do kit designers feel an obligation to exercise some artistic license? I want a red shirt, not one that looks like I've simultaneously been shat on by a bird and spilt mayo down my front. I won't be buying it; I'll wait for the blue away kit.

Chicago Addick has had an annoying recent habit of stealing my ideas. He obviously doesn't have much work on. When that baby comes along, let's see how prolific his blogging is.

As he quite rightly pointed out with unnatural promptness, if I was a building society, I wouldn't be describing myself as 'innovative' right now. How about 'conservative', 'boring' or 'unimaginative'?

However there's finally something truly Charlton-like about finally having a local business on our shirts (well, Chatham), as opposed to a speculative Spanish property developer, or a chav High Street fashion brand.

With assets at 30 Sep 2008 of £2.3bn, it's not a minnow and indeed comparable with the Dunfermline Building Society that was saved by a combination of the government and the Nationwide.

And with provisions of only £5m against those assets, they must be uniquely gifted underwriters.

Anyhow with its top three executives taking home over £300k each, you'd have to hope they're suitably incentivised and credible not to go the same way. We could do without another new shirt.

Welling 1, Charlton 1

The result is meaningless, but the 22-man squad we utilised was far from encouraging, with our over-resourced central midfield merely emphasising the lack of defensive options.

It's certainly great to have a centre-back called Mambo ('Mambo No.5' anyone?), but who fancies starting a League One season with the additional likes of Youga, Semedo and Basey as partners for new signing Llera?

Meanwhile we don't have a recognised senior right-back, with Yassin Moutaouakil clearly not having shown the type of promise that a coach could eke out for this level. It's no wonder France are so unsuccessful at international level.

Upfront meanwhile, we are similarly lightweight lacking a true target man (assuming Gray moves on), leaving only Deon Burton plus three unproven potential partners.

How's this for an opening day line-up? Elliot, Solly, Youga, Llera, Semedo, Shelvey, Racon, Bailey, Sam, Burton, Fleetwood. Subs:Randolph, Basey, Spring, McLeod, Dickson. Confident? Neither am I.

Zheng Zhi leaves

As Chicago Addick predictably pointed out, he could ask Jessica Biel on a date but she'd probably say no (but virility is a very attractive trait you know?).

Anyhow, as the Captain of a country of 1.4billion people, it's fair to assume he can play a bit, enough at least not to have to partner Matt Spring in midfield on a wet Tuesday night in Hereford.

Rumours of some sort of marketing-led deal that would see us retain Zheng were clearly and not surprisingly flawed, so we bid him farewell.

As a player he was quite good at everything, but not very good at anything. Kind of like the Tim Henman of the football world.

The peak of his Charlton career coincided with the first half of the 2007/8 season under Pardew, scoring nine goals by mid-January and putting us in promotion contention.

However the goals dried up as our season fell by the wayside, and he leaves us with the fond memory of a 25-yard pearler at Molineux in March. Hao yun as they say in China.


At 11:57 AM, Blogger Confidential Rick said...

Re the new shirt sponsor,I can't have been be the first person to notice that krbs sounds like text speak for curbs..

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Chicago Addick said...

LOL. When the baby comes I'll have to resort to posts on child proofing ;-)

Excellent round up NYA. Like a sap I started 'following' last night's game on Charlton Life, but realised after half an hour why I never used to attend friendlies, even when I could.

Your comments on the takeover and the directors personal interests is one I subscribe to as well.... damn you beat me to it.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

NYA-do you really believe the Board will write-off £30 million of their own money-I don't . There will be provisos in place to get some form of compensation once the club become successful again -when ever that might be


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