Friday, May 14, 2010

Play Away

Thanks to the events of May 1998, the play-offs will always hold a special place in the heart of Addicks fans.

However despite the excitement evidenced by Charlton’s allocation of tickets selling out within hours, promotion to the Championship would not have anything like the same impact on the club.

Revenues in the Championship would barely be higher (perhaps a 10% increase in attendances, and a small increase in TV rights), but the cost base might conceivably rise even quicker as the wage bill increases to compete effectively.

Whilst it would obviously take us one step closer to the holy grail of the Premiership, from a purely financial perspective the benefits of promotion are not entirely clear, even more so if we find ourselves facing a likely relegation battle again next season.

For this reason, I’m really not too fussed whether we triumph or not. The long-term stability that the club desperately needs may not be synonymous with promotion this season.

In the same vein I suspect Leeds will be better served by having won promotion this season, rather than in either of the previous two.

Having said all that, for a few precious minutes on Saturday, it looked as though Charlton might still snatch the 2nd place they barely deserved, but we do not enter the play-offs feeling hard done by.

Interestingly it is the sixth place team (Huddersfield) that are unquestionably the form side with six wins in their final eight games, scoring 17 goals in the process.

With five wins in their final eight matches meanwhile, Charlton can claim greater winning momentum than Millwall (four) and Swindon (three), but the lack of goals may present a fuller picture.

Most fans were hoping to avoid Millwall at the semi-final stage, and by comparison an away leg at the County Ground in Swindon will be an immeasurably more civilised affair.

The two League matches against the Robins were characterised by a pair of desperate late Charlton equalisers.

Yet interestingly whether only one or even neither equaliser had been scored, we still would have faced Swindon in the play-offs (albeit with the home and away legs switched around).

Given that the apparent advantage of playing the second leg at home is not obviously clear to me, ultimately those Llera and Bailey goals might be deemed irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

I did not attempt to secure a ticket for tonight’s game, mainly because the prospect of watching it in the comfort of my living room accompanied by a couple of bottles of Sharp’s Doom Bar is considerably more appealing.

However many fans will involuntarily be faced with the same prospect, having unexpectedly been unable to secure a ticket given the club’s decision to virtually put the tickets on general sale.

As Kings Hill Addick has eloquently described, there is no easy solution to this problem of ticket ‘entitlement’.

I might add a controversial view though, which is that it’s actually the occasional away fans rather than the regular ones who should be rewarded.

I’m willing to accept for example that 3,000+ Addicks strewn across one side of Leyton Orient’s ground in August may have lifted the team.

However I’m equally confident that the couple of hundred who travelled say to Hartlepool or Stockport made not a jot of difference.

It is thus precisely those fair-weather travelling fans that come out of the woodwork for games like tonight’s, who can actually swing results in the team’s favour.

It is they who should be rewarded, not the ones who go to games where their presence makes no impact.

Unfortunately those fans who blindly go to every game home and away are rather inviting themselves to be treated like mugs I'm afraid (and this is of course true of all clubs, not merely Charlton who frankly treat their fans better than most).

I would also add more generally however that fans ought to remember again that football is unlike any other industry.

With only a handful of exceptions (like fans of Fulham it seems), we can choose only to consume our football via our beloved club of choice, or not at all. We do not suddenly switch our allegiances.

Thus rewarding loyal fans over irregular ones is merely a kind gesture by the club, not obviously a commercial decision.

Obviously annoying your most loyal customers on a frequent basis is not recommended (because they may choose to consume zero football instead), but I can understand them knowingly doing so occasionally.

Conversely, as a very frequent flyer on Virgin Atlantic for example (with nearly a million miles to my name), I have reached the pinnacle of their loyalty program and am thus treated like royalty.

The difference of course is that if they did not treat me this way, I would have the realistic option of switching to British Airways, on the very rare occasions when they actually fly.

If you don’t like it, support Crystal Palace. Go on, I dare you :-)

Up the Addicks!


At 1:08 PM, Blogger Hungry Ted said...

A fine beer, Doom Bar. You have decent taste...

At 3:45 PM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

The television income increase is more than small and there will be a much bigger gap in the future in 'solidarity' payments to the Championship compared with League 1.

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty controversial viewpoint with regards to the entitlement of erstwhile away followers for tickets ahead of people who go to every game NYA.

Both of my parents have bought these 5 year tickets where they get to go to every game, but if they hadn't have bought those, they'd have missed out on this playoff because they both work 9-5 and wouldn't have been able to queue.

I can't remember the last time they missed a game, but it's been years. How would that have been fair?

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Anonymous, it wouldn't be fair but I wanted to make the point that the club is under no obligation (commercial or ethical) to 'be fair'.

Imagine you owned a restaurant - one customer always came back each week regardless of how poor the food and service was. Another customer meanwhile was much more discerning and would disappear for months if given a poor meal - which customer would you spend more time trying to impress on his next visit?

I do try on this blog to get people to think about issues in a different/contrarian way, even if I don't necessarily give both sides of the argument.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Surely one of the problems has simply been that the club infrastructure is difficult to sustain in the 3rd tier. The number of visiting supporters should also rise, especially as if we don't go up the three teams who probably will do were our biggest gates this year.
Football has got to become realistic and that means that you tie salaries more closely to results. Promotion also avoids two dodgy FA cup rounds.
Also back in the championship we should be able to get value fromthe Shelvey deal - can't see many liverpool youngsters wanting to come to league 1.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear NYA I have enjoyed reading your views on charlton and i just wonder if you have any idea how they are to sort out this huge debt problem and getting worse by the day .
thank you for your time

At 11:58 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It's my understanding that most of the debts are owed to directors, so a lot depends upon their own personal financial circumstances (which unlike the club's own accounts, are not a matter of public record).

But in short, the club's options are simple:

1. default upon/restructure the debts via administration (implying a 10-point penalty);

2. repay the debts by somehow making the club profitable/cashflow positive again (implying huge cost-cutting);

3. sell the club.

I think the assumption that the club will choose option 1. is flawed because theh same people owed the money are those required to make the decision to opt for admnistration (ie. the directors).

If they believe there remains a realistic possibility to sell the club and have their debts repaid, they may choose to continue in the current vein (personally as a mere fan, I think this is the worst of all worlds).


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