Friday, September 25, 2009

Exeter preview

The latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains a new entry for the word 'meh'.

It was popularised by The Simpsons, and used more latterly on a regular basis by the likes of Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. It's certainly a word that's entered the regular New York vernacular.

One of the internet definitions of meh is: Apathetic; unenthusiastic; uninspiring.

The club's announcement of a £7million cash injection was a meh moment for me I'm afraid.

It wasn't disclosed in what form the investment was made, but I'm willing to assume it was in some form of convertible debt, similar to the £14million issue from March 2008.

The fact that the newly consolidated Board now solely comprises participants in the latest investment round, suggests a certain degree of understandable 'horse trading'. Money talks.

It's harsh on those directors relegated to 'Vice President', but reflective of these financially-strained times. Streamlining the decision-making process is however sensible, regardless of whether it was achieved under duress.

Just like our shored up banking system, the problems haven't gone away but we're no longer in a 'death spiral' for the timebeing.

The two obvious negative implications of the announcement are firstly, why was the club unable to convert any of the outside interest into a hard investment?

The rumours were so strong that frankly this must be considered a surprise, although from a rational investment perspective, the club is a pretty tough sell. Perhaps potential investors are lurking, so it's just a bridging loan to tide us over.

Second, whilst the deep-pocketed willingness of our directors to continue to fund the operations is most welcome, what is the end game here? Their motives are not entirely altruistic of course; they also trying to protect any equity value left in their investments.

What most worryingly is the implication if we fail to win promotion this season (an outcome that must at best be considered 50/50 at this stage)?

The fundamental financial problems will remain (excessive fixed costs, declining revenues), but the club will now be saddled with £7million more debt, further reducing its appeal to newcomers.

Unless the short-term finances of the club were so dire that we couldn't even see out the season without January firesales or perhaps administration, then this injection seems effectively a £7million bet that the club wins promotion.

If so, Phil Parkinson seems sanguine about it all: "As I understand it, it's an investment from the current board to stabilise the club as we go forward for the rest of the season. They didn't want to put us in a situation where we had to sell players. But they're still looking for new investment."

All true, but if my interpretation is correct then we don't just need to 'go forward', but 'go up'. Not a criticism of course; based on the first eight games, he's certainly going about it the task in the right way.

Next up for Parkinson's men is Exeter City, a club that has spent its entire 89-year history outside domestic football's top two divisions.

Their relegation to the Conference in 2003 appeared to signal the start of an irresistible decline, but the surprise appointment of Paul Tisdale (from Team Bath) in 2006 turned things around.

An amazing double-promotion has seen them catapulted to fixtures like Saturday's at The Valley, which were inconceivable until Tisdale arrived. This weekend two years ago, they earned a 1-1 Conference draw at Woking.

The teams have only met three times since the War, most recently a 3-1 FA Cup victory at The Valley in January 2003.

Two goals from Jonatan Johansson and a Jason Euell penalty were enough to see off a spirited Grecian side that day, in front of an 18,107 crowd that is unlikely to be exceeded this time around.

Indeed Charlton have not lost any of their 13 League and Cup home fixtures against Exeter (albeit mainly occurring in the 1920s), a good omen for Saturday.

They have made a steady but unspectacular start to life in League One, during a season where surely survival would represent an achievement.

They will however be without ace marksman Stuart Fleetwood (surely some mistake? - Ed.).

Norwich's late equaliser was a disappointment, but commentary suggested they were good value for their point.

Rob Elliott's case for a foul was not a strong one in my view, although television evidence was inconclusive.

He is clearly an excellent shot-stopper, but is not strong enough in precisely those situations, an issue I've brought up here before. Whether or not this prevents him becoming a top-class keeper remains to be seen.

If website comments about several injury worries are correct, then Saturday's fixture will give fans some clues about the depth of the squad, and Parkinson's flexibility.

Coming on the heels of two somewhat controversial draws, and with a Chris Dickson-inspired Bristol Rovers side ready to leapfrog us, it seems a game of some considerable importance.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 2 (Burton, McLeod), Exeter 0. Att: 16,991.


At 12:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Dickson thing just makes no sense to me whatsoever. How can he score goals everywhere but Charlton. Why can't he even get a game for us? He can't possibly be worse that Mcleod can he?


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